Skip to main content

Hilda Harris lectures at the University of Connecticut

 Digital Record


  • 1974 December 3


Opera singer Hilda Harris spoke on 12/3/1974 (2015-0002/RR176).

Biographical / Historical

Harris is well-known for being one of the first African Americans to play “trouser” roles in the mezzo soprano repertoire. At the Metropolitan Opera she made her debut as the Student in Lulu and went on to play Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, the Child in L’Enfant et les sortileges, Siebel in Faust, Stephano in Romeo et Juliette, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, and Sesto in Giulio Cesare, all featured at The Met. Harris would also go on to sing such roles as Carmen in St. Gallen, Switzerland; Brussels; and Budapest. Harris sang as Dorabella, in Cosi fan tutte, in opera halls throughout Holland and Belgium.

In addition, Harris sang in 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 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.

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, which she has been on faculty since 1991. 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.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original audio recordings reside in the University of Connecticut, Black Experience in the Arts Collection, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library.

Repository Details

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

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US