Delano, California, who began studying music whilst she was still in high
school and furthered her education at the Curtis Institute of Music and the
Music Academy of the West.
She had her
coming-out party at the Marlboro Music Festival, where she began a longtime
collaboration with Rudolf Serkin, and went on to become the resident
soprano at the storied festival.
In 1960, she gave her first performance in The Big Apple and aced
her audition for the Metropolitan Opera, although it would be several years
until she adorned its illustrious stage.
She spent much
of the ‘60s performing opera in Germany, including a stint as Pamina in The
Magic Flute, a role she would claim as her own. To date, she has embodied the role over
200 times, including her Met debut on 22nd September 1973.
1983, she performed at Alice Tully Hall in New York, alongside pianist
Richard Goode, in a set that included capriccios, intermezzi and songs by
Johannes Brahms, English canzonettas of Franz
Joseph Haydn, and “Six Songs of Gottfried Keller” by Hugo
The end of the
century marked the end of her recording career, and she went out with
style, premiering three new works for soprano and strings with the
Juilliard Quartet, including Alberto Ginastera’s
Third String Quartet, John Harbison’s “The
Rewaking”, and Richard Wernick’s
String Quartet No. 5. She
delivered her final performance in October 2000.
Her resume is
surely an enviable one. A
staple at The Metropolitan Opera in New York, she has portrayed Gilda in Rigoletto, Ilia in Idomeneo, Nanetta in Falstaff, and Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro.
whom she has worked include Claudio Abbado, Emmanuel
Ax, Leonard Bernstein, Christoph Eschenbach, Leon Fleischer, Nikolaus
Harnoncourt, Sharon Isbin,
Erich Leinsdorf, Raymond Leppard, James Levine, Yo-Yo
Ma, Kurt Masur, Riccardo
Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Cynthia Raim,
Leonard Slatkin, Robert Shaw, and Edo de Waart.
Add to that a
Grammy award for her rendering of “Quartet No. 2” of Arnold
Schoenberg, which she performed in tandem with The Juilliard String
Quartet. She also received the
most prestigious accolade handed down from Chamber Music America, the
Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, in
1999. At the time, Benita was
the first and only singer to have won the prize.
retirement in 2000, she devoted herself to teaching at the European Mozart
Academy, the Marlboro Music School, and the Stearns Institute for Young
Artists, among others. In 2009,
she appeared on the CD re-packaging, Great
Singers of the 20th Century, Vol. 1.
RCA 6559-2-RC (Gloria! Gloria!)
Fidelis (John Francis Wade)
Orchestra of Philadelphia