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Harris, Hilda , 1974 December 3

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Opera singer Hilda Harris spoke on 12/3/1974 (2015-0002/RR176). Harris is well-known for being one of the first African Americans to play “trouser” roles in the mezzo soprano repertoire. Harris has taught at Howard University (1991-1994), the Chautauqua Institute for sixteen years, maintained a private studio in New York City, and is currently teaching at Sarah Lawrence College as well as the Manhattan School of Music College.


  • 1974 December 3

Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.

Biographical / Historical

Hilda Harris, a native of Warrenton, North Carolina, received her B.A. and Doctor of Humane Letters from North Carolina Central University. She is the recipient of the President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service from the Manhattan School of Music. Mezzo-soprano Hilda Harris, formerly a leading artist of the Metropolitan Opera, has performed throughout the United States and Europe. Harris is known for her portrayals of the "trouser" roles in the mezzo repertoire. She has established herself as a singing actress and has earned critical acclaim in opera, on the concert stage, and in recital. At the Metropolitan Opera, she made her debut as the Student in Lulu and also sang Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), the Child (L'Enfant et les sortilèges), Siebel (Faust), Stephano (Roméo et Juliette), Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), and Sesto (Giulio Cesare). During her extensive career, she has sung such roles as Carmen in St. Gallen, Switzerland; Brussels; and Budapest. In Holland and Belgium she sang the roles of Dorabella (Così fan tutte) and Rosina (Barber of Seville), and the title role in La Cenerentola.

She has also sung leading roles with the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Seattle Opera, Spoleto USA, and the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in Italy. She has appeared extensively in symphonic and oratorio repertoire with the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Quebec Symphony, Helsinki Orchestra, Sweden's Malmö, Symphony and the radio orchestras of Hilversum in the Netherlands. Ms. Harris is a member of the Chicago-based Black Music Research Ensemble, whose purpose it is to discover, preserve, promote and perform music of black composers. Her accomplishments have been documented in And So I Sing, by Rosalyn M. Story; Black Women in America, an Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Darlene Clark Hines; The Music of Black Americans by Eileen Southern; and African-American Singers by Patricia Turner. Ms. Harris's discography includes Hilda Harris (a solo album); The Valley Wind (songs of Hale Smith); Art Songs by Black American Composers (album); X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X (CD); From the South Land, songs and Spirituals by Harry T. Burleigh (CD); and Witness, Volume II, compositions by William Grant Still (CD).

Ms. Harris taught voice at Howard University (1991-1994) and is presently a member of the voice faculty of Sarah Lawrence College and Manhattan School of Music. She maintains a private studio in New York City and is on the voice faculty at the Chautauqua Institution during the summer months.

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1 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recording ) : RR 176 1 reel, 0:44:27; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.

Language of Materials

From the Series: English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
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