Obituary: mezzo-soprano and arts administrator Betty Allen, 82

Posted on: June 26, 2009

In Thursday’s (6/25) New York Times, Margalit Fox reports, “Betty Allen, an American mezzo-soprano who transcended a Dickensian girlhood to become an internationally known opera singer and later a prominent voice teacher and arts administrator, died on Monday in Valhalla, N.Y. She was 82. … Ms. Allen was part of the first great wave of African-American singers to appear on the world’s premier stages in the postwar years. Active from the 1950s to the 1970s, she performed with the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and the opera companies of Houston, Boston, San Francisco, Santa Fe, N.M., and Buenos Aires, among others. Ms. Allen, who also toured as a recitalist, was known for her close association with the American composers Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem and David Diamond. At her death, she was on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, where she had taught since 1969. … The executive director of the Harlem School of the Arts from 1979 to 1992, Ms. Allen was on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the New York City Opera, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Theater Development Fund and the Manhattan School of Music.”

Posted June 26, 2009