Jessye Norman

Jessye Norman

Jessye Norman American singer soprano mezzo

The award-winning, critically acclaimed dramatic soprano, has wowed audiences and critics all over the world, especially in he performances of the music of Wagner, Richard Strauss and Mozart.

  • Born on 15 September 1945, Norman was singing gospel songs in church from the age of four.
  • At nine, she heard opera for the first time on the radio and was immediately converted. At 16, she won a scholarship to Howard University in Washington. 
  • She won the 1969 ARD International Music Competition in Munich and made her operatic début in Berlin in Tannhäuser.
  • In 1970, she sang the role of the Countess in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and recorded the role under Sir Colin Davis.
  • She debuted at La Scala in 1972 where she sang the title role of Aida.
  • She only made her U.S. opera début in 1982, appearing in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex.
  • She made her début at the Met in 1983 in The Trojans.
  • In 1986, she appeared as a soloist in Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs with the Berlin Phil during its U.S. tour. 
  • In the mid-1990s, she began to move into singing mezzo parts.
  • On 11 March 2012 she performed America the Beautiful at a service unveiling two columns of light at the site of New York's twin towers.

Did you know?

Norman may actually have a rare voice type known as a Falcon, close to a mezzo soprano in tone, but a dramatic soprano in range.