NEW YORK - Showcasing the dynamic career of African-American mezzo-soprano Betty Allen, City Opera will honor this extraordinary woman, artist, and pioneer in a special evening filled with historic video excerpts, rare sound clips, live musical selections by City Opera artists, and personal tributes from Betty Allen’s family, friends, former students and colleagues. Ms. Allen achieved international success and played an influential role in breaking down the barriers of racial discrimination in opera. This program follows the success of last season’s collaboration between City Opera and the Schomburg Center celebrating the African-American experience in great operatic repertoire and distinguished African-American artists who have enriched the opera world.
An active singer during the 1950s through the 1970s, Ms. Allen [17 March 1927 - 22 June 2009] made her City Opera debut in 1954 as Queenie in Show Boat, followed by performances of several roles at City Opera including Azucena, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, Jocasta in Oedipus rex, and Eurycleia in Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria. She later went on to appear at major opera companies and concert halls around the globe, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Teatro Colón, among others. She also served on the boards of numerous arts organizations, including City Opera, and served as executive director and president emeritus at the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) for nearly 20 years. On February 28, City Opera, HSA and the Schomburg Center will honor Betty Allen and her legacy as an influential force in arts education.
The tribute will be moderated by Nimet Habachy, writer and lecturer best known for hosting WQXR’s “New York at Night”, and feature performances by City Opera artists and students from the Harlem School of the Arts.