Music: Command Performance

"If I go to dinner," said the diva. "I'll eat and not sing very well." But this was no ordinary invitation, and so Mezzo-Soprano Grace Bumbry, 25, took her place at President Kennedy's table in the state dining room of the White House, dutifully nibbled at the first course and at the dessert. Then she adjourned with the other guests to the East Room and soared flawlessly through the most important recital of her career.

Singing magnificently in her rich, bronzelike voice, she began with O del mio dolce ardor, by Gluck, went on to Quella fiamma che m'accende, by Benedetto Marcello,...

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