Mattiwilda Dobbs, Met Opera Soprano

“Caro nome” from Verdi’s Rigoletto

Mattiwilda Dobbs was the Roger Maris of opera: an exceptional talent who was unfortunately somewhat overshadowed by superstars before and  during her career. (In Maris’s case, it was Mantle, Ruth, DiMaggio; for Dobbs, it was Marian Andersen, Maria Callas and Leontyne Price.)

Mattiwilda Dobbs Sings Handel Arias, 1955

Still, she was a formidable presence as a coloratura soprano with the Met, having earlier appeared at La Scala and Covent Garden. Her career kicked off when she won first prize at the Geneva Competition in Switzerland in 1951.

Recital at Her Alma Mater, Spelman College, 1988

Dobbs (July 11, 1925-December 8, 2015) bravely refused to perform for segregated audiences, and she was not heard in her hometown of Atlanta until 1962. In 1974, she performed at the inauguration of Atlanta’s first African-American mayor, Maynard Jackson,  her nephew.