The Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History held a reception for the Camilla Williams exhibit Sunday highlighting the Danville native’s life and her distinguished career as an opera performer. Williams, who was born in Danville in 1919 and died in Bloomington, Indiana, in January 2012, was the first African American woman to appear in a major American opera house, performing the role of Cio-Cio San in “Madame Butterfly.” The show opened at the New York City Opera on May 15, 1946. Williams would also become the first black artist to receive a contract from the opera. She went on to achieve worldwide acclaim, becoming a cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department and touring 14 countries in Africa, performing at the White House and later touring parts of Asia, New Zealand, and Australia. She was also the first black singer in a major role at the Vienna State Opera in Austria. The exhibit is free and runs through May 24.


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