Grace Bumbry (1937-2023)

Grace Bumbry, who was a mainstay of the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, the Vienna State Opera and other major companies and was the first Black singer to perform at the Bayreuth Festival, has died at 86.

Denied admission to a segregated conservatory in her native St. Louis, Bumbry performed on Arthur Godfrey’s “Talent Scouts” program, an appearance that led to her enrollment at Boston and Northwestern universities and studies with the great German-American soprano Lotte Lehmann.

A mezzo-soprano who later took on soprano roles, Bumbry made her stage debut in 1960 at the Paris Ópera as Amneris in Verdi’s “Aïda,” and was dubbed the “Black Venus” after singing that role in Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” at Bayreuth in 1961. In 1962 she sang at a state dinner at the White House at the invitation of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and made her debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

She went on to sing many mezzo and soprano roles at major US and European opera houses through the 1990s, including the Met’s first staging of the Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess” in 1985, in which she co-starred with bass-baritone Simon Estes.

Initially retiring from the opera stage in 1997, she returned in a 2010 Paris production of Scott Joplin’s “Treemonisha” and a 2013 Vienna production of Tchaikovsky’s “The Queen of Spades.”

She also founded and starred in the Grace Bumbry Black Musical Heritage Ensemble, which toured in the 1990s with performances of spirituals.

An obituary by The New York Times’ Alex Williams:

Tuesday Evening Concerts 2023-24

The Dover and Arod string quartets, violinist Augustin Hadelich and pianist Orion Weiss, the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and pianist Paul Lewis are among the artists engaged for the coming season of the Tuesday Evening Concerts, the long-running chamber-music series in Charlottesville.

The concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall of the University of Virginia.

Ticket subscriptions are $65 to $250. For more information, call (434) 244-9505, or visit

Artists and programs for the 2023-24 Tuesday Evening Concerts:

Oct. 10
Augustin Hadelich, violin
Orion Weiss, piano

Beethoven: Violin Sonata in G major, Op. 96
Daniel Bernard Roumain: “Filter”
for solo violin
Amy Beach: Romance in A major, Op. 23, for violin & piano
Prokofiev: Violin Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 80
John Adams: “Road Movies”

Oct. 31
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble

Purcell: Chacony for strings (Benjamin Britten arrangement)
Nielsen: “Serenata in vano”
Howard Ferguson: Octet, Op. 4
Beethoven: Septet in E flat major, Op. 20

Nov. 28
Behzod Abduraimov, piano

Franck: Prelude, Fugue and Variations, Op. 18 (Harold Bauer arrangement)
Dilorom Saidaminova: “The Walls of Ancient Bukhara”
Ravel: “Gaspard de la nuit”
Florence Price: “Fantasie nègre” No. 1
Prokofiev: “ ‘Romeo and Juliet:’ 10 Pieces,” Op. 75

Feb. 20
Arod Quartet

Haydn: Quartet in D major, Op. 76, No. 5
Debussy: Quartet in G minor
Beethoven: Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 131

March 12
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

Jean-Marie Leclair: “Scylla et Glaucus” Overture
Vivaldi: Bassoon Concerto in A minor, RV 498
Pietro Locatelli: “Sinfonia funèbre” (or “Pianto d’Arianna”)
Michel Richard Lalande: “Les fontaines de Versailles” – Chaconne
Johann Christoph Pez: Suite in D minor
Telemann: Overture-Suite in B flat major, TWV55:B11 (“La Bourse”)
work TBA by J.S. Bach or Vivaldi

March 26
Dover Quartet
Haochen Zhang, piano

Mozart: Quartet in E flat major, K. 428
Brahms: Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34
solo-piano works TBA

April 23
Paul Lewis, piano

Schubert: Sonata in C minor, D. 958
Schubert: Sonata in A major, D. 959
Schubert: Sonata in B flat major, D. 960