American mezzo-soprano Irene Dalis was born on 8 October 1925 and grew up in San Jose, California. She received a Fulbright Scholarship and went to Europe, where she studied in Milan and began her singing career.
She gave her first performance at Oldenburg in Germany and was offered a contract there, where she made her professional debut as Princess Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlo. Her rise to fame was fast - from Oldenburg she moved to Berlin's Stadtische Oper, sang in Jenufa and was spotted and invited to sing at New York Metropolitan Opera, where she stayed to give 274 performances over twenty seasons.
Other highlights of her career include singing Ortrud in Lohengrin and the Nurse in Die Frau Ohne Schatten. She was also the first American to sing Kundry in Parsifal at Bayreuth. She also founded and directed Opera San Jose, and established the Irene Dalis Vocal Competition.
Irene Dalis died in San Jose, California on 14 December 2014, aged eighty-nine.