American artist Grace Bumbry, considered one of the most important mezzo-sopranos of the 20th century, will hold a master class for opera singers on Jan. 25-28 in Istanbul as part of the Grandi Voci International Singing Competition. The competition, held in Salzburg every year, is being held for the first time this year in Istanbul from Jan. 22-25 with the support of the Sabancı Foundation and the Sakıp Sabancı Museum. The award ceremony for the contest, in which 62 contestants have been accepted, will be held on Jan. 25 at The Seed hall in Sakıp Sabancı Museum. Following the award ceremony, the master class for opera singers will take place immediately under the guidance of Bumbry. Opera singers trained by the artist during the master class will perform a concert under the direction of Bumbry at The Seed on Tuesday, Jan. 28.
Born in 1937 in the U.S., Bumbry began her career as a mezzo-soprano and studied at Boston University and Northwestern University. She performed her first concert at London's Wigmore Hall when she was just 22 years old. In 1960, she first sang the role of Amneris in Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida." In 1961, she became the first black singer to sing in the role of Venus from "Tannhäuser" at the Bayreuth Wagner Festival in Germany. She has sung at the Vienna State Opera, Palais Garnier in Paris, La Scala, the Buenos Aires Theatre, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Metropolitan Opera and has worked with the most prominent conductors at festivals such as the Salzburg Festival and Verona.
She was awarded the Vincenzo Bellini Prize for her performance in the opera "Norma," in which she sang for the first time in Italy, as well as the Giuseppe Verdi Prize for her outstanding contribution to Italian opera.
In 2009, she received the Kennedy Center Honor Award from then-President Barack Obama for her lifetime achievement. In 2012, she sang as the Old Woman in Bernstein's "Candide" at the Deutsche Opera in Berlin. She has taught master classes at universities and various institutions to date.