Valente, Benita, distinguished American soprano; b. Delano, Calif., Oct. 19, 1934. She began serious musical training with Chester Hayden at Delano H.S. At 16, she became a private pupil of Lotte Lehmann, and at 17 received a scholarship to continue her studies with Lehmann at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara; in 1955 she won a scholarship to the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia, where she studied with Singher. Upon graduation in 1960, she made her formal debut in a Marlboro (Vt.) Festival concert. On Oct. 8, 1960, she made her N.Y. concert debut at the New School for Social Research. After winning the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 1960, she pursued further studies with Margaret Harshaw. She then sang with the Freiburg im Breisgau Opera, making her debut there as Pamina in 1962; after appearances with the Nuremberg Opera (1966), she returned to the U.S. and established herself as a versatile recitalist, soloist with orchs., and opera singer. Her interpretation of Pamina was especially well received, and it was in that role that she made her long-awaited Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. on Sept. 22, 1973. She won praise for her performances in operas by Monteverdi, Handel, Verdi, Puccini, and Britten. Her extensive recital and concert repertoire ranges from Schubert to Ginastera.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire