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Frances Lillian Bible, a former mezzo-soprano for the New York City and San Francisco operas and for the Chautauqua Opera Company in a career that spanned more than four decades, has died.

Bible died Jan. 29, 2001, of a heart attack in Hemet Valley Medical Center. She was 82.

During her long career, Bible performed more than 50 roles, also singing at opera houses in England, Germany, Austria, Ireland and Canada, conducted a 45-concert tour of Australia in 1964 and had a televised appearance with Leonard Bernstein in 1961.

Bible also created two roles -- that of Augusta Tabor in the Douglas Moore-John LaTouche opera "The Ballad of Baby Doe" in 1956, and Elizabeth Proctor in "The Crucible."

Born Jan. 16, 1919, in Sackets Harbor, N.Y., Bible began singing in church choirs and attended the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, where she won the Alice Breen Memorial Prize for the highest rating in singing. She also received a graduate degree from Juilliard and studied with Metropolitan Opera soprano Queena Mario for a decade before making her first operatic appearance in 1946.

Bible spent four summers with the Chautauqua Opera Company and made her debut with the New York City Opera in 1948 as Cherubino in "The Marriage of Figaro." In her second year in New York, Bible received the Woman of the Year merit award for her performance of Octavian in "Der Rosenkavalier."

After leaving the New York City Opera, Bible was an artist-in-residence in voice at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music in Houston. She moved to California in 1991.

Bible, the only singer in New York City Opera history to receive an award commemorating her artistic contribution to the company, returned to upstate New York several times to perform.

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