April 5, 1930 – Opera Singer, Actress, and Disney Legend Mary Costa is Born
“Walt Disney called me, and he said, ‘You have a warm, warm voice, and it expresses love from your heart. Also, your voice is so naturally placed that you can use your signing voice as an extension of speech…I want you to drop all of the colors and the things that you feel about Briar Rose to your vocal palette, and I want you to paint with your voice.’”
On April 5, 1930, Mary Costa was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her family moved to Los Angeles, California, where, after high school, she entered the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music, studying with Gaston Usigli. She was featured on Edgar Bergen’s radio show with his character Charlie McCarthy. In 1952, she auditioned for the role of Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. Walt Disney called her personally to let her know that she won the role. In 1958, Costa met acclaim when she filled in for Elisabeth Schwarzkopf at a concert in the Hollywood Bowl, and was then given the lead of her first operatic production, The Bartered Bride. Costa then made her debut at the Glyndebourne Festival. She would go on to perform at the Metropolitan Opera, the royal Opera House, and the Bolshoi in Moscow, as well as in several television appearances. In 1989, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, and in 1999, she was named a Disney Legend. In 2003, Costa was appointed to the National Council on the Arts by President George W. Bush, where she served until 2007.