One year ago: Betty Allen
Betty Allen sang "with a glory of sound that would honor any performance," Washington Post critic Paul Hume once wrote. Allen, one of the first African American opera singers to reach international prominence, died a year ago. She was 82.
Allen was a mezzo-soprano -- her voice was lower than that of a soprano -- so she didn't get the glamorous female roles that tend to go to sopranos. Mezzos are often cast in evil or brooding parts. She said Azucena, the raving gypsy in Giuseppe Verdi's "Il Trovatore," was her favorite role because "she's absolutely nuts."
Allen also was a distinguished teacher. She was the executive director of the Harlem School of the Arts and taught at the Manhattan School of Music, among other places.
-- Keith Thursby
Photo: Betty Allen