The American lyric soprano, Betsy Norden, studied at Boston University, and began her career in musical comedy. However, she joined the Met chorus in 1969.
Betsy Norden made her solo debut at the Metrpolitan Opera in New York on January 27, 1972 as Barbarina in W.A. Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, opposite Cesare Siepi in the name part, with Karl Böhm conducting. Ever since her debut there, she has remained a favourite artist at the Met from 1971 to 1992, singing a variety of roles, including Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera, Despina in W.A. Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti, Zerlina in W.A. Mozart's Don Giovanni, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Musetta in La bohème, Liu in Turandot, Gretel in Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, Sophie in Werther, and Constance in Francis Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites, as well as numerous secondary roles. On December 27, 1975, she sang four different roles on the same day (possibly a Met record) during the matinee and evening performances of Hänsel und Gretel and Il trittico. She has also been on many ‘Live from the Met’ television broadcasts including the historical ‘Met Centennial’, Don Carlos (conducted by James Levine), Alban Berg's Lulu (directed by John Dexter), Il trittico (with Renata Scotto), Rigoletto, Hänsel und Gretel, Don Carlos again (with Plácido Domingo and Mirella Freni), and Dialogues des Carmélites (as Sister Constance of St Dénis, possibly her most successful role). In her 21 seasons with the Met, she sang in 522 performances, 39 roles and 35 works. Her final appearances at the Metropolitan were in the 1992 world-premiere production of The Ghosts of Versailles (with Teresa Stratas and Marilyn Horne), the televised performance of which was her last Met appearance.
Betsy Norden has appeared in leading roles with the San Francisco Opera, the Philadelphia Opera, the San Diego Opera, and the San Antonio Opera, as well as the Spoleto Festival Italy, where she sang Despina to unanimous critical acclaim. Her penchant for comedy was noted in her performance of Vespina in Infeldelta Delusa at New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival where the New York Times described her as an ‘18th-century Carol Burnett’.
An accomplished orchestral soloist, Betsy Norden has been heard in concerts various ensembles, including the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Miami Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and New York Choral Society, and in numerous recital and chamber music concerts throughout the USA.
In 1977, Betsy Norden recorded Arthur Shepherd's Triptych, for High Voice and String Quartet with the Emerson String Quartet for New World Records. In 1987, she recorded an album of "Cantatas & Arias," with trumpeter Bob Haley and Alexander String Quartet, for Crystal Records.