title_and_official_site.gif (3686 bytes)


image link to http://www.amazon.com

Link to About page
Link to News page
Link to Autobiography page
Link to Recordings page
Link to Photos page
Link to Links page




As an internationally renowned opera singer and recitalist, Shirley Verrett has achieved recognition as one of the world's great artist. Her orchestral appearances, films, concerts, and recordings have garnered her accolades from The New York Times, Opera Magazine, Courier Della Sera, Opernwelt, Chicago Times, Musical America, Newsweek, and The Washington Post, among other international news organizations.

Ms. Verrett's rare combination of vocal gifts, unequaled presence, and elegant style has made her a star at the world's great opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Bolshoi Opera, the Paris Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Vienna Staatsoper, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Shirley Verrett has appeared at the Metropolitan as both Norma and Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma in the same season. Her other roles included Tosca, Carmen, Eboli, Lady Macbeth, Amneris, and Azucena. She has also appeared with that company in new productions of La Favorita, L'Assedio di Corinto, Bluebeard's Castle and Les Dialogues des Carmelites. Miss Verrett made musical history when she sang both Cassandra and Dido at the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Berlioz's Les Troyens. The New Yorker commented it was " . . . a landmark in American opera history." That company honored Shirley Verrett by presenting her with a twenty-fifth anniversary watch two years before she reached that career milestone.

Throughout her long and distinguished career, Miss Verrett has been acclaimed for her exceptional gifts as a singing actress, and has won special praise for her unique and varied repertoire. Verrett's vocal artistry comfortably embraces the great roles of Carmen, Eboli, Amneris, Dalila, Azucena, and Orfeo, as well as some of the most demanding roles for dramatic soprano such as Norma, Lady Macbeth, Medea, Tosca, Aida, Desdemona, and Leonore in Beethoven's Fidelio. Her mastery of this wide range of vocal literature has earned her a unique place in operatic history.

Ms. Verrett is equally beloved at the Paris Opera, where she starred in a series of operas staged especially for her, including Rossini's Mose, Cherubini's Medee, Verdi's Macbeth, and Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride and Alceste. In 1990, she opened the Bastille Opera in a widely hailed production of Les Troyens commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution's Bastille Day.

At the Teatro alla Scala, where she has been a favorite for many years, Ms. Verrett opened the 1975 season appearing as Lady Macbeth with Claudio Abbado, conductor and Giorgio Strehler, metteur en scene. This was one of her greatest triumphs and firmly established her as a leading dramatic soprano. Other highlights of her Italian career include her memorable portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda at the Maggio Musicale in Florence. More recently she appeared as the heroine of Cherubini's Medee at the Teatro Comunale in Florence and Tosca at the Arena di Verona.

Ms. Verrett performed regularly with the world's greatest orchestras and conductors, including Igor Stravinsky, Josef Krips, Eugene Ormandy, Thomas Schippers, Sir Georg Solti, Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Fiedler, James Levine, Erich Leinsdorf, Zubin Mehta, Claudio Abbado, Sir Colin Davis, Julius Rudel, Bruno Bartolletti, Ricardo Chailly, Georges Pretre, Carlo Maria Guilini, Lorin Maazel, Raymond Leppard, Bernard Haitink, Nicola Rescigno, Rafael Kubelik, Herbert von Karajan, Carlo Felice Cilario, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Sarah Caldwell, Eve Queler, and Seiji Ozawa.

Shirley Verrett has also sung and recorded with other renowned singers including Leontyne Price, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballe, Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills, James McCracken, Jose Carreras, Jon Vickers, Alfredo Kraus, Marilyn Horne, Grace Bumbry, George Shirley, Sherrill Milnes, and Simon Estes among many others. In spite of a busy opera schedule, Shirley Verrett has appeared in recitals in major musical capitals of the world, including London (Covent Garden), New York (Carnegie Hall), Paris (Theatre des Champs Elysees), as well as significant tours throughout the United States and Europe every season. She has remained committed to this medium throughout her distinguished career. She has appeared several times in the "Live from Lincoln Center" series in both opera and recital.

Born in New Orleans and raised in Southern California, Shirley Verrett graduated from the Juilliard School of Music in New York. She has won many honors and awards, among them the Marian Anderson Award, the Achievement Award of the Women's Division of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine; fellowships from numerous foundations including Ford, John Hay Whitney, Martha Baird Rockefeller; the Naumburg Award; and the Sullivan Award. She has received honorary doctorates from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts and Northeastern University in Boston. In 1970, she was decorated with the French Government's highly coveted Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, and in 1984 was recognized with the more prestigious Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. She is a life member of the NAACP, Mu Phi Epsilon, and the Century Club. She was recently named as a board member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Having always had a love for Broadway, Shirley Verrett performed the role of Nettie Fowler in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City during the 1994-95 season. This production was under the direction of Nicholas Hytner and won five Tony Awards. It also garnered Ms. Verrett a nomination for the Out of Critics Circle Award. She was also an honoree of the Drama League. In 1999 she appeared in an off-Broadway revival of the turn of the century musical comedy, In Dahomey at the New Federal Theatre in New York.

Shirley Verrett joined the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Music as Professor of Voice in September 1996. The following excerpts are from a speech she gave to a recent class of freshmen at the University of Michigan:

. . . Not all of you who come through these portals will
become major opera singers or renowned scholars. However,
every one of you should leave this university as an educated
person . . . I have now come to believe specializing too
early is counter-productive and can stunt your growth. I have
heard many a voice professor talk about "the voice" as if it were
detached from the physical body, the emotions, and especially
the mind. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
Your mind is your greatest asset. . . My mother, Elvira Verrett,
always told my brothers, sister and me to "learn everything
you can because you'll never know when you will need it. . . ."
You may face your own moral crisis where your personal
development or views may place you in conflict with those of
your family, your friends, or "tradition." I can't advise you
how to handle such a dilemma should it arise, however I can
encourage you to be honest in your reflections. But don't let the
fear of rejection slow down your intellectual curiosity or your
personal development.

An internationally acclaimed opera singer, Shirley Verrett has participated in numerous charitable and humanitarian activities throughout her career. As a life member of the NAACP, she gave a benefit recital at Carnegie Hall and donated the proceeds to the organization's general fund. In 1989, she and Placido Domingo sang a major benefit concert for UNESCO in Paris to aid refugee children in Latin America, Asia and Africa. In this country, she has regularly sung benefit concerts to raise funds for AIDS research.

Ms. Verrett has also served on two White House commissions to preserve American Antiquity under the Carter and Reagan administrations. She served on the National Endowment for the Arts and on the board of the Harlem's Boy's Choir. In 1995, she was among the "First Ladies of Song" a benefit to raise money for an Eleanor Roosevelt statue. The event featured former First Lady, and current New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the keynote speaker.

Shirley Verrett continues to be a model of a professional woman, combining a stellar career with a commitment to public service. For this and similar activities, Essence Magazine recognized her as an African American Woman of Distinction. She is listed in the national and international Who's Who directories. Her voice was featured in the1999 academy-award winning film, La Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful). She was also appointed in 1999 as the James Earl Jones Distinguished Professor at the University of Michigan. Shirley Verrett's autobiography is titled I Never Walked Alone (with Christopher Brooks).

Ms. Verrett continues to offer vocal Master Classes throughout the United States and Europe.