Thursday, February 2, 2012

Camilla Williams (1919-2012)

Camilla Williams, the Virginia-born lyric soprano who was one of the first African-American singers to perform with leading opera companies, has died at 92.

A native of Danville and alumna of what is now Virginia State University, Miss Williams was especially well-known for her portrayal of Cio-Cio San in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” the role in which she made her debuts at the New York City Opera in 1946 and the Vienna State Opera in 1954. She also sang Bess in the first complete recording of The Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess.”

She taught voice at the Indiana University School of Music from 1977 until 1997.

An obituary by Margalit Fox in The New York Times:

Camilla Williams is remembered in her hometown, from Tara Bozick of WSLS-TV in Roanoke: