Obituary: soprano Mattiwilda Dobbs, 90

Posted on: December 15, 2015

“Atlanta native Mattiwilda Dobbs rose to international fame in the 1950s as one of the first African-American opera singers to perform on major stages around the world,” writes C.G. Freightman in Saturday’s 12/12) Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The coloratura soprano was acclaimed for a vocal technique described as pure and resonant as a bell, lively interpretations and stage presence. She is credited with paving the way for other black opera singers … Dobbs died Dec. 8 at her Atlanta home after a brief bout with cancer…. In 1953, she became the first African-American to perform a lead role, as Elvira in ‘L’italiana in Algeri,’ at La Scala Opera House in Milan. The following year, she made her American debut with the Little Orchestra Society in New York City…. Her father, civic and political leader John Wesley Dobbs, was known as the unofficial mayor of Auburn Avenue. Her nephew, Maynard Jackson, became Atlanta’s first black mayor. Dobbs and her five sisters all graduated from Spelman College, where she received a music degree and was valedictorian of her class in 1946…. She made her debut as Gilda in ‘Rigoletto’ with the Metropolitan Opera in 1956.” Dobbs is survived by her sister June Dobbs Butts.

Posted December 15, 2015