Gloria Davy

Gloria Davy Brief Biography

Gloria Davy
Gloria Davy (March 29, 1931, Brooklyn - November 28, 2012, Geneva) was a Swiss soprano of American birth who had an active international career in operas and concerts from the 1950s through the 1980s. A talented spinto soprano, she was widely acclaimed for her portrayal of the title role in Giuseppe Verdi's Aida; a role she performed in many of the world's top opera houses. She was notably the first black artist to perform the role of Aida at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1958. While she performed a broad repertoire, she was particularly admired for her interpretations of 20th-century music, including the works of Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten and Paul Hindemith.

Davy was part of the first generation of African-American singers to achieve wide success and is viewed as part of an instrumental group of performers who helped break down the barriers of racial prejudice in the opera world. She first drew notice in 1952 when she won the Marian Anderson Award, and then as Bess on an international tour of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess from 1954-1956. Concert and opera engagements with major orchestras and opera houses in the United States and Europe soon following. In 1959 she married Swiss stockbroker Herman Penningsfield; at which point she left New York to reside in Geneva, Switzerland. After this point her singing career was mainly based in Europe, with only occasional appearances in the United States.

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