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Shirley Verrett
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    (May 31, 1931-November 5, 2010)
    Born in New Orleans, Louisiana
    Opera singer
    Mezzo-soprano turned soprano
    Known for her roles in operas by Verdi and Donizetti
    Appeared on Broadway in 'Carousel' (1994)
    Wrote the autobiography 'I Never Walked Alone' (2003)
    Her parents were opposed to her becoming an opera singer.
    Many critics felt that her decision to switch from mezzo-soprano to soprano was a mistake.
    She turned down a long-term contract with La Scala in Milan.
    Her performances were inconsistent, which she blamed on a mold allergy.
    She left her abusive first husband after discovering a pistol under his pillow.
    Her second marriage, to artist Lou LoMonaco, lasted 47 years until her death.
    Leopold Stokowski had to withdraw an offer for her to perform with the Houston Symphony when the orchestra's board of directors refused to allow a black soloist to appear. (Stokowski made ammends by having her perform with the better-known Philadelphia Orchestra.)
    She refused to perform before segregated audiences during a tour of the south (1961).
    After a performance in Verdi's 'Macbeth' at La Scala, Italian critics dubbed her 'la Nera Callas' ('the black Callas').

Credit: C. Fishel

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    In 2010, Out of 236 Votes: 66.95% Annoying
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