Reri Grist was a classical singer and teacher. In 1956, she played Cindy Lou in Carmen Jones, her first staged operatic role.
Grist was born on February 29, 1932, in Spanish Harlem, and grew up in the East River Housing Projects. She attended Music and Art High School and received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Queens College in New York City.
Grist had already appeared on Broadway in small roles and musicals with Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Eartha Kitt, and Helen Hayes by her early teens.
Her first opera role was as Madame Herz in an open-air concert performance of Mozart’s “Der Schauspieldirektor” in New York’s Washington Square Park in 1959. Grist made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Rosina in Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” on February 25, 1966. Gilda in “Rigoletto,” Norina in “Don Pasquale,” Olympia in “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” and several other roles she performed there over a twelve-year period.
Grist’s opera career came to an end in 1991. She appeared at the De Nederlanse Oper Amsterdam in Pierre Audi’s one-woman tour de force “Neither,” written by Morton Feldman and Samuel Beckett.
Grist has taught voice at the School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München. She has also served on several international juries and given Master Classes at Young Artists Programs such as the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program, the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and the San Francisco Opera Merola Program.