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Marian Anderson's Groundbreaking Met Opera Moment
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Marian Anderson's Groundbreaking Met Opera Moment

NPR Staff

It was conductor Arturo Toscanini who said a voice like Marian Anderson's comes around only once in a century.

Sixty years ago Wednesday, Anderson became the first African-American soloist to sing at New York's Metropolitan Opera. She was in her late 50s when she appeared Jan. 7, 1955, in Verdi's Un ballo en maschera.

F. Paul Driscoll, editor-in-chief of Opera News, says Anderson was made for the role of Ulrica.

"The role of the sorceress is something that depends a lot on the charisma of the performer, the ability to suggest a world beyond what you are seeing in front of you," Driscoll says. "And that's what Marian Anderson did every time she walked onstage."


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