Soprano Carmen Balthrop, best known for her role in Joplin Opera, has died at the age of 73.

Soprano Carmen Balthrop made her Metropolitan Opera debut on April 6, 1977. Thirteen days later, he made an entirely different kind of debut in a courtroom of the United States Senate.

Miss Balthrop was one of many people that day, just at the beginning of a career that would take her to opera and concert stages around the world. testify at a meeting A Senate Appropriations subcommittee to support the funding of the arts.

It was a dreary and low turnout meeting with Oregon Republican Senator Mark O. Hatfield and the subcommittee chair, the only member of the panel present. Somber, that is, until Senator Hatfield, who was skeptical of the funding request, challenged Miss Balthrop’s assertion that opera singers were a disciplined and hardworking bunch.

He then asked Knight-Ridder, “Come on, are you really that disciplined?” said. “And he said he wanted to hear some results. I said, ‘Why, absolutely.'”

He stood up and sang “Signore, ascolta” from Puccini’s “Turandot”.

“She was so happy and took a break,” he said, “and then we got the money.”

Balthrop, a famous Black star, died at her home in Mitchellville, Md., on September 5, while opera was just beginning its efforts to be more diverse. He was 73 years old.

Her husband, Patrick A. Delaney, said the cause was cancer.

Two years before this impromptu Senate performance, Miss Balthrop’s career took off after she won that pageant after captivating audiences at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition in April 1975. During the finals, the same “Turandot” quote and “Che sento? O Dio!” From Handel’s performances of “Julius Caesar” broadcast live on National Public Radio.

“The announcement of Miss Balthrop’s victory garnered applause from the audience, who openly approved of her singing.” The New York Times reported.

Later that year, she landed in perhaps her most prominent role, the lead character in Scott Joplin’s folk opera “Treemonisha,” about an 18-year-old Black girl trying to lead her people to a better life. Written before World War I, the opera was not performed during Joplin’s lifetime, but a version was staged in Atlanta in 1972, and three years later the Houston Grand Opera produced a production starring Miss Balthrop.

The opera has been performed seven times in Houston as part of a free opera series and has been attended by thousands. In the final performance, the finale of the opera, “A Real Slow Drag” It was repeated three times for the enthusiastic crowd.

This production moved to Broadway. At the time, Elizabeth McCann was the general manager of Nederlander Productions, which brought the show to New York. (Ms. McCann died this month.) HE told The Times It was a large part of the reason why Miss Balthrop, then 27, was able to portray a teenager.

“Carmen Balthrop, who plays the lead role, is tremendous,” he said. “This role needs a strong, charming and innocent girl. How often do you get such a combination?”

Carmen Arlene Balthrop was born on May 14, 1948 in Washington. His father, John, worked in the Justice Department’s printing house, and his mother, Clementine (Jordan) Balthrop, was a housewife.

As Miss Balthrop often tells the story, she set her career goal early – when she was 8 years old. His father had a hobby: He used to tune in to the radio and television in the basement of the family home. He had a Saturday job: cleaning the house while his mother went to the market.

“I was running the vacuum cleaner one Saturday and I heard something very unusual coming from the basement so I turned it off,” his father said while testing a radio and speakers. “Opera Diva Series” A web interview program in 2011.

“I climbed to the top of the steps and called out,” he recalled. ‘Dad, what is this?’ said. He said, ‘This is opera.

Specifically, it was the voice of the groundbreaking Black soprano Leontyne Price.

“Something awoke in me and from that moment I started recreating that sound myself,” Balthrop said.

He graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington in 1967 and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in 1971. The following year, he earned a master’s degree in music from the Catholic University of America.

The Met’s 1977 debut was with “Die Zauberflöte,” in which she sang the role of Pamina. He has performed with numerous other opera companies and symphonies, including the Washington Opera, Deutsche Oper in Berlin, and Columbus Opera in Ohio, and starred in the world premiere of ‘Vanqui’ in 1999. Two Slaves composed by Leslie Burrs and a libretto by John A. Williams.

Ms. Balthrop began her career as a teacher at the University of Maryland in 1985. There he also held administrative positions, including coordinator of the voice and opera department.

The marriage with Dorceal Duckens ended in divorce. In addition to Mr. Delaney, whom he married in 1985, Mrs. Balthrop has a daughter from her first marriage, Nicole Mosley; Camille Delaney-McNeil with her daughter, Mr. Delaney; and three grandchildren.

Inside a blog entry On the University of Maryland website, Ms. Balthrop wrote that she was once surprised by Ms. Price, who unexpectedly appeared at a rehearsal as Ms. Balthrop was preparing to perform in San Francisco.

“There was no one in the hall,” he wrote of their encounter. “I was standing there with the voice that inspired me to sing. Every time I think about it, I get better because I don’t think people will meet their idols very often.”

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