American soprano Phyllis Curtin was born Phyllis Smith in Clarksburg, West Virginia on 3 December 1921. She studied singing at Wellesley College with Olga Averino, then with Boris Goldovsky at the New England Conservatory.
From 1953 until 1960 she was one of New York City Opera's principal sopranos, where she first sang in the first US performance of Gottfried von Einem's The Trial, and later sang the title role in Salome. At Brandeis University she sang Thérèse in the first American performance of Poulenc's Les mamelles de Tirésias, and also sang the title role in Milhaud's Médée.
From 1961 until 1973 she sang regularly at New York Metropolitan Opera, and her singing career continued into the 1980s.
She took the soprano role in the first American performance of Britten's War Requiem at Tanglewood in 1963, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Erich Leinsdorf, a performance available on a 2007 VAI DVD.
She taught at Yale, at the College of Fine Arts School of Music and the Opera Institute, both at Boston University, and at Tanglewood.
Phyllis Curtin died on 5 June 2016, aged ninety-four.