Argento, Carolyn Bailey Born in Baltimore On May 22, 1930 To the Rev. C. Carroll Bailey and Mrs. Margaret Bailey, died February 2, 2006, after a long hospitalization and a valorous struggle with an indeterminate neurological illness. She grew up in York, PA, where her father was pastor at the Church of St. Paul, EUB, and her pianist-mother served as accompanist for artists of the Chautauqua Circuit. Carolyn's inherited gifts were early evident and, at age 15, she was the youngest pupil ever to receive a personal scholarship from one of the Peabody Conservatory's principal voice teachers. While still an undergraduate, her professional career was developing through performances in recital, oratorio and opera in Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York. At Peabody, she met a fellow-student, Dominick Argento from York, PA, and married him September 6, 1954. Carolyn was awarded a fellowship in opera by the Eastman School of Music where her husband was pursuing doctoral studies. Howard Hanson, director of the School, selected her to be the soloist in his 1957 Festival of American Music where she premiered her husband's Ode to the West Wind, a 30 minute concerto for soprano and orchestra. After moving to Minneapolis in 1958 where Argento began to teach theory, composition, and opera history at the University of Minnesota, she premiered many of Dominick's works; most notably The Mask of Night, commissioned by the Minneapolis Civic Orchestra. She performed the leading role in The Masque of Venus and Adonis at the Guthrie Theater in the inaugural production by Center Opera Company (now the Minnesota Opera) and later the role of Pamina in The Magic Flute. She became soloist for several church choirs, for Frederic Hilary's Minneapolis Madrigal Singers, and George Houle's University Baroque Ensemble. During their fifty-one years of marriage, she and her husband usually spent the three months of summer—and often the entire year—in Florence, a city she happily regarded as a second home. Her many friends remember the gracious welcome she always extended to Minnesota travelers visiting Florence and to international musicians visiting the Twin Cities. Individual memorials preferred to the Carolyn Bailey Argento Graduate Fellowship, School of Music. Checks may be made out to and mailed to the University of Minnesota Foundation (Carolyn B. Argento Fellowship on the memorandum line), C-M 9407, P. O. Box 70870, St. Paul, MN 55270-9407
Published in Pioneer Press on Feb. 12, 2006.