The American opera singer Grace Bumbry died in her adopted home of Vienna. The mezzo-soprano and soprano died in a hospital on Sunday at the age of 86, her adoptive son David Brewer told the German Press Agency on Monday. Bumbry sang in 1961 as the first black singer at the Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth and was considered a pioneer for other black opera colleagues.
Bumbry was born on January 4, 1937 in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in a musical family. After winning a local radio station's singing competition, scholarships provided her with a first-rate education as a singer.
In 1959 Bumbry gave her first concert in Europe in London, and a year later she was acclaimed at her operatic debut in Paris. This was followed by performances at the Salzburg Festival, in Hamburg, London, Tokyo and at the Vienna State Opera and the Milan Scala. Her signature roles included Salome in Strauss' opera of the same name, Lady Macbeth, and Princess Eboli in Don Carlos.