George Shirley

born 18 April 1934 Indianapolis
When he was six years old, his family relocated to Detroit, where he began music lessons. He became active as a vocalist at churches in the area and as a baritone-horn player in a local band.

Shirley entered Wayne State University in Detroit as a music education major, receiving his bachelors degree in 1955. He was drafted into the military the following year and became the first African-American member of the United States Army Chorus. After his discharge in 1959, he continued studying voice with Therny Georgi, then he moved to New York where his professional career began. It was in New York that he also had voice lessons with Cornelius L. Reid RED FLAG.

He made his debut with a small opera troupe at Woodstock, New York, as Eisenstein in their production of Die Fledermaus. He went to Italy to make his European debut as Rodolfo in the Puccini opera, La bohème.

In 1961, he won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions by performing Nessun dorma, beginning an eleven-year association with the house. While at the Met, he sang twenty-eight different roles from twenty-six operas, especially those of Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Strauss and Wagner. From 1961 (in La bohème) to 1977, he also sang at the New York City Opera.

He taught at the University of Maryland College Park from 1980 until he accepted a position at the University of Michigan in 1987.

George Shirley sings Das Rheingold: Immer ist Undank Loges Lohn
Audience approval of this Berlin Rheingold performance (see picture section for reviews in German and cast)
Both in RA format

George Shirley sings Madama Butterfly: Dovunque al mondo, with unknown baritone
In RA format

George Shirley sings Madama Butterfly: Bimba dagli occhi (end only), with Pilar Lorengar
In RA format

George Shirley sings Idomeneo: Fuor del mar
In RA format
I would like to thank Daniele Godor for the recordings (Butterfly).
I would like to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recording (Idomeneo).

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