On February 12, 1958, opera singer Gloria Davy became the first black woman to sing the legendary performance of “Aida” at the New York Met. The role of Aida, (whose character was an Ethiopian princess), had always been played by white singers in dark makeup. Davy was a beauty of the stage and had already performed for many years in Europe. She was praised for the use of her soprano tone in a unique way. She knew how to attain maximum vocal ability at the lowest volumes.
The star performer often graced theaters with the music of Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten and Paul Hindemith. During the 1960’s, Davy toured in Berlin, Aachen, Geneva, Vienna, London, Strasbourg, Mannheim and Milan.
In 1954, Davy replaced the great Leontyne Price in the international tour of Porgy and Bess. Davy performed at the New York Met 15 times between 1958 and 1961. Her final performance was Verdi’s Trovatore opposite Giulio Gari.
Davy’s parents were immigrants from St. Vincent. Her father worked as a token clerk for the New York City subway. She studied in New York with Belle Julie Soudant and through the Julliard School.
Ironically, Davy had received the Marian Anderson Award in 1951 and 1952. Anderson was the first black woman to perform at the Met. This was nearly a decade before Davy would take on the role of Aida.
The diva opera singer passed away in Geneva, Switzerland on November 28, 2012.