Killebrew, Gwendolyn, black American mezzo-soprano; b. Philadelphia, Aug. 26, 1939. She studied at Temple Univ. in Philadelphia, and then in N.Y. at the Juilliard School of Music and at the Metropolitan Opera Studio. After winning 1st prize in the Belgian International Vocal Competition, she won a Metropolitan Opera audition and made her operatic debut with the company in N.Y. as Waltraute in Die Walküre on Nov. 21, 1967; made her first appearance at the N.Y.C. Opera as Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera (Sept. 11, 1971). She was a member of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf (from 1976); also appeared in Munich, Geneva, Salzburg, Bayreuth, and other European opera centers. She made numerous concert, oratorio, and lieder appearances on both sides of the Atlantic. Among her notable operatic roles are Gluck’s Orfeo, Azucena, Mistress Quickly, Amneris, Fricka, and Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire