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Gloria Davy, Prominent African-American Opera Singer, Dies at 81

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Gloria Davy, a Brooklyn-born soprano who was the first African-American to sing Aida with the Metropolitan Opera, died on Nov. 28 in Geneva. She was 81.

Her death, after a long illness, was confirmed by the soprano Martina Arroyo, a longtime friend.

Ms. Davy performed mainly in Europe from the 1960s onward. She was equally, if not better, known as a recitalist.

Though she was praised by critics for the beauty of her voice, the sensitivity of her musicianship and the perfection of her pianissimos — the elusive art of attaining maximum audibility at minimum volume — Ms. Davy sang with the Met just 15 times over four seasons, from her debut in the title role of Verdi’s “Aida,” opposite Leonard Warren, in 1958 to her final performance, as Leonora in Verdi’s “Trovatore,” opposite Giulio Gari, in 1961.

She graduated from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and in 1951 and 1952 received the Marian Anderson Award. The prize, for young singers, was established in 1943 by Ms. Anderson, the first black singer to appear at the Met.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1953 from the Juilliard School, where she studied with Belle Julie Soudent, Ms. Davy embarked on a career as a concert singer.

Ms. Davy was married several times. Survivors include a son, Jean-Marc Penningsfeld.

NaturallyMoi sends our thoughts to his friends, family, and those who were able to work with the gifted singer, mother and friend.