Opera world loses another beloved star: Soprano Shirley Verrett dies at 79
The news of Shirley Verrett's death Friday at the age of 79 comes as the opera world is still mourning the loss of Joan Sutherland. Miss Verrett, ill for several months, died in her sleep in Ann Arbor, Mich., where she had lived and taught since 1996.
The singer gained fame first as a mezzo-soprano with an uncommonly lustrous tone, but she moved into the soprano realm with equal success, defying predictions that her voice would not survive the transition. Opera fans debated the matter anyway, of course, but no one could doubt Miss Verrett's commitment to anything she sang.
Beautiful, even regal, Miss Verrett delivered a combination of refined musicality and dramatic power that earned her comparisons with Maria Callas. Her contribution to the operatic art, and to the removal of barriers against African American singers, will long be honored and treasured.
I thought this live, richly expressive performance of
the "Liebestod" from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" would be an appropriate way to commemorate such a consummate artist: