Caterina Jarboro

Caterina Jarboro

Caterina Jarboro

Caterina Jarboro (1903-1986) was a pioneering African American opera singer. In 1933 — twenty-two full years before Marian Anderson’s début at the Metropolitan Opera — impresario Alfredo Salmaggi hired Jarboro to sing with his opera company at the Hippodrome.

She was thus the first black opera singer ever to sing on an opera stage in America. (This milestone earned Salmaggi special recognition from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. 

Jarboro studied in North Carolina and then in New York. She sang in the theater musical Shuffle Along and in James P. Johnson’s Running Wild as well as several others. She debuted in opera with Verdi’s Aida at the Milan Puccini Theater. Many other opera appearances throughout Europe and the United States followed.