From Development server
12 September 2021

Carmen Balthrop, 73, Soprano Who Found Acclaim in the Title Role of Joplin's Treemonisha, has Died


IN 1975, the soprano took first prize in the Met National Council Auditions and made her Broadway debut in the title role of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha. Originally produced at Houston Grand Opera in May 1975, Frank Corsaro’s staging of Treemonisha arrived on Broadway the following October and had a run of six previews and sixty-four performances. In a September 1975 OPERA NEWScover story, critic Robert Jones said that the Treemonisha production team wanted a star who was “strong, beautiful, feminine, intelligent, a good dancer and who sings like an angel … Carmen Balthrop was all that.” Balthrop’s lissome, sympathetic performance as the foundling Treemonisha and her glowing command of Joplin’s ragtime score were preserved on a Deutsche Grammophon cast recording, released in 1976, and a 1986 Great Performances broadcast of the opera, recorded in 1981 at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Houston. 

Balthrop was inspired to pursue a career in singing as a child, when she first heard the voice of Leontyne Price on a Saturday afternoon radio broadcast. Balthrop received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and her master’s degree from Catholic University.  

Balthrop appeared at San Francisco Opera in a 1973 Spring Opera Company staging of Bach’s Passion According to Saint Matthew and returned to SFO as Bess in Porgy and Bess (1976) and Roggiero in Tancredi (1979). Balthrop made her Met debut in April 1977, as Pamina in an English-language Metropolitan Opera Guild student performance of Die Zauberflöte and repeated the assignment on the company’s spring tour in Boston, Atlanta and Vienna, Virginia. Balthrop also sang at Washington Opera, Baltimore Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Deutsche Oper Berlin and La Fenice, among other theaters, and appeared in concert with the New York Philharmonic, the BSO, the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the National Symphony. In 1980, Balthrop recorded the role of Monteverdi’s Poppea with Alan Curtis and the Baroque Complex.

Balthrop was a longtime member of the voice faculty at The University of Maryland School of Music. She was formerly the school's associate director for academic affairs and undergraduate studies and the coordinator of the voice and opera division. spacer 

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