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Ten Minutes With Betty Jones



Betty Jones has been singing all her life, but never envisioned her voice would one day take her around the world. An internationally renowned opera singer, and Wilton resident, she launched her operatic career at 41, after singing for many years in the Wilton Congregational Church choir. Since then, she has performed leading roles with major American and international opera companies.

You come from a musical family. Growing up in New Jersey, my parents and I would sit on our front porch and sing spirituals. They both played the piano. When people came to visit, Dad would go to the piano, and I’d start singing “hot ginger and dynamite ...”

But you studied art in college. Yes, I went to Sarah Lawrence College as an art major; I love to paint, sculpt, and draw. While there, I played Bess in a college production of Porgy & Bess. When the school heard me sing, they gave me a music scholarship. 

What did you do after college?  After graduating in 1951—I was one of Sarah Lawrence’s first black graduates—I got married. We moved to Wilton in 1954, and our kids Jeff and Janet were born. I sang alto in the Wilton Congregational Church choir and got involved in the Wilton Playshop. If I hadn’t moved to Wilton, I don’t think I would have become an opera singer.

Why is that? The choir director arranged for me to sing for Georgiana Schenck Gregersen, a former Wilton resident and prominent voice teacher at the Mannes College of Music. After listening to me, Georgiana said, “Your voice is very beautiful, but you don’t know technically how to sing.” I started going into New York City to take voice lessons with her.

What was your first opera? Linda Cabot Black, another Wilton resident and founder of the Boston Opera Company, arranged for me to audition for Sarah Caldwell, the company’s artistic director and conductor. Sarah gave me two small roles in Charpentier’s Louise.

Where else have you performed? Since my debut in Boston, I have performed in operas all over the world—including the San Francisco and Seattle Opera companies, the Chicago Lyric Opera, and the New York City Opera.

Your favorite role? I always say, “When I sing a song, I love the song I sing,” but it is probably Aida; I always enjoyed that role.

Singing opera is physically demanding. It is an aerobic exercise and can be grueling. I do 100 crunches a day. You have to unhinge your jaw, keep your body very straight, and make a hole all the way down, like you have an elevator inside.

Do you do anything to protect your voice?   I am very careful about avoiding drafts. I don’t smoke or drink. And I exercise to stay in shape.

Do you still perform? No, I just turned 83. Now I give voice lessons. I still have a voice in there. 

Any advice for your students? I tell them ‘making music is like making love’; you give the audience joy when you perform for them.  

 

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September 2018

Explore three private gardens in Greenwich, Westport, and Wilton, open for self-guided tours to benefit the Garden Conservancy. Highlights include water features, terraced perennial gardens, a...

Cost: $7 per garden, children 12 and under free

Where:
Pixie Perennials
200 Nod Hill Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: The Garden Conservancy
Telephone: 888-842-2442
Contact Name: Open Days Program staff
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

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Inspired by the upcoming New York Fashion Week (September 5 - 12), the Wilton Historical Society is presenting a fashion exhibition "A Century of Style: 1860 - 1960", which will run...

Cost: suggested donation of $5 for non-member adults is welcomed

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The Wilton Rotary Club will again sponsor its traditional family carnival from Friday-Sunday, Sept. 14-16 at the corner of School Road and Route 7. The event is a fundraiser that benefits the...

Cost: Admission & parking free. unlimited rides $25. Individual ride tickets available

Where:
Wilton
, CT


Website »

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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Inspired by the upcoming New York Fashion Week (September 5 - 12), the Wilton Historical Society is presenting a fashion exhibition "A Century of Style: 1860 - 1960", which will run...

Cost: suggested donation of $5 for non-member adults is welcomed

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Inspired by the upcoming New York Fashion Week (September 5 - 12), the Wilton Historical Society is presenting a fashion exhibition "A Century of Style: 1860 - 1960", which will run...

Cost: suggested donation of $5 for non-member adults is welcomed

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Inspired by the upcoming New York Fashion Week (September 5 - 12), the Wilton Historical Society is presenting a fashion exhibition "A Century of Style: 1860 - 1960", which will run...

Cost: suggested donation of $5 for non-member adults is welcomed

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Show More...
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FREE community event: Join Dawn Kurth, of No Kidding Nutrition (www.nokiddingnutrition.com) for a workshop sure to be of interest for anyone who's dealt with the six o'clock scramble or had one too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Martin House Workspace
69 Westchester Ave.
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Martin House Workspace
Telephone: 914-764-3128
Contact Name: Erin Trostle
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Inspired by the upcoming New York Fashion Week (September 5 - 12), the Wilton Historical Society is presenting a fashion exhibition "A Century of Style: 1860 - 1960", which will run...

Cost: suggested donation of $5 for non-member adults is welcomed

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Woodcock Nature Center plans Under the Harvest Moon Benefit Event Friday, September 21 One of the largest fundraisers of the year for Woodcock Nature Center, Under the Harvest Moon on Friday,...

Cost: $80/person

Where:
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Rd
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

Wildlife trafficking generates more than $10 billion a year for transnational organized criminal networks. Join us to learn about the work our Nature Initiative is doing to further the strategic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Farms
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Inspired by the upcoming New York Fashion Week (September 5 - 12), the Wilton Historical Society is presenting a fashion exhibition "A Century of Style: 1860 - 1960", which will run...

Cost: suggested donation of $5 for non-member adults is welcomed

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Join Music on the Hill for "An Evening in Paris," its sixth annual auction fundraiser. All are welcome. The evening begins with a cocktail party and silent bidding, followed by a live...

Cost: $45

Where:
WEPCO Parish Hall
48 New Canaan Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Inspired by the upcoming New York Fashion Week (September 5 - 12), the Wilton Historical Society is presenting a fashion exhibition "A Century of Style: 1860 - 1960", which will run...

Cost: suggested donation of $5 for non-member adults is welcomed

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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