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Jessye Norman

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Jessye Norman (born September 15, 1945) is an American opera singer. Norman is one of the most admired contemporary opera singers and recitalists, and one of the highest paid performers in classical music. A true dramatic soprano with a majestic stage presence, Norman is associated in particular with the roles of Aïda, Cassandre, Alceste, and Leonora in Fidelio. Norman has been given the nickname ‘Just Enormous’ for her powerful voice and range.

Norman was born in Augusta, Georgia in a family of amateur musicians; her mother a pianist, her father a singer in a local choir. She attended Charles T. Walker Elementary School, A.R. Johnson Junior High School, and Lucy C. Laney Senior High School, all in downtown Augusta.

Norman received a scholarship to Howard University, graduating in 1967 with a degree in music, and from the University of Michigan with a Masters Degree in 1968. The following year, she won the ARD International Music Competition in Munich. She made her operatic debut in 1969 as Elisabeth in Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser at the Berlin State Opera, and in subsequent years performed with various German and Italian opera companies. She returned to the US to make her professional concert debut at Lincoln Center in 1973.

Norman made her debut in 1983 at the Metropolitan Opera in Berlioz’s Les Troyens in a production which marked the company’s 100th anniversary season.

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