At the time of her retirement in 1984, MARY COSTA had 44 operas in her repertoire. Her singing career spanned four decades and included performances with the San Francisco, Metropolitan, Bolshoi, and Knoxville opera companies. Her long career crossed many genres of performance, including opera, concerts, recitals, musical comedy, motion pictures, radio, and television.
Costa's career began immediately after she graduated from high school in Los Angeles, where she performed on the Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show, performed with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in concerts at UCLA, and made numerous radio commercials for Lux Radio Theater. Her voice became known around the world for her portrayal of Princess Aurora in the 1959 Disney animated film classic, Sleeping Beauty.
Costa made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Verdi's La traviata in 1964, where she also sang leading roles in Massenet's Manon and Samuel Barber's Vanessa. She appeared on television shows with stars such as Jack Benny, Sammy Davis Jr., Merv Griffin, and many others. Other career highlights include a performance at the memorial service for John F. Kennedy, the premiere performance of the Kennedy Center Opera House in 1971 in a revival of Leonard Bernstein's Candide, and a performance at the White House in 1974 at the invitation of President Nixon.
In recent years Costa has divided her time between personal appearances for the Disney Corporation and a demanding schedule of motivational speaking engagements. She helps raise funds for charities such as Read Across America, Signal Centers of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Childhelp USA, of which she is a National Ambassador. She has received many awards, including the Puccini Award (1999) and Metropolitan Opera Guild recognition for distinguished Verdi performances of the 20th century (2001). She has served on the National Council of the Arts since 2003.