Category Archives: Sopranos

JANIS MARTIN, Soprano * 27 March 1940, United States of America + 3 September 2007, Danville, Virginia, United States;

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A powerful, energetic beauty best known for her performances in Wagner roles at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera and in Germany, Martin was a member of the Merola Program in San Francisco in 1958 and ’59.  She began her career as a mezzo-soprano, eventually switching to the soprano repertoire when she was in her early thirties.  Martin made her professional debut at San Francisco Opera in 1960, as the First Spirit in Die Frau ohne Schatten,and continued to sing a wide variety of comprimario roles — Lola, Flora Bervoix, Sister Anne in the 1961 world premiere of Dello Joio’s Blood Moon — for the company before moving on to higher-profile SFO assignments such as Ortrud, Brangäne, Sieglinde, Tosca, Marie in Wozzeck, the Mother in Il Prigioniero, Strauss’s Elektra and Senta in Der Fliegende Holländer.  Martin’s last San Francisco Opera appearance was as Brünnhilde in a 1990 Ring cycle.

Martin’s first Met appearance was as a finalist in the 1962 National Council Auditions concert. Later that year, she made her debuts at New York City Opera, as Mrs. Grose in the company premiere of The Turn of the Screw, and at the Metropolitan Opera, as Flora in La Traviata. Martin sang 148 performances for the Met in New York and on tour, including Singer in the U.S. premiere of The Last Savage (1964) and the Princess in the company premiere of Rusalka (1993).  Martin’s major Met assignments included Senta, the Dyer’s Wife, Kundry, and Marie in Wozzeck. Her last Met performance was in 1997, as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre.

Martin enjoyed particularly long associations with Deutsche Oper Berlin (1971–88) and the Bayreuth Festival (1968–97), where her roles included the Rheingold and Walküre Frickas, the Walküre Brünnhilde, Sieglinde and Kundry.  She also sang at La Scala, Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Paris Opera and Staatsoper Hannover, among other theaters.  She retired from the opera stage in 2000. spacer

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Posted by on August 16, 2017 in Sopranos


RITA SHANE, Soprano * 15 August 1936, The Bronx, New York City, New York, United States + 9 October 2014, New York City, New York, United States;

Image result for Rita Shane

Rita Shane, a dramatic coloratura who was much admired for her performances at New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and other theaters.
Shane studied at Barnard College and with Beverley Peck Johnson. She was a member of the apprentice program at Santa Fe Opera before making her debut as Olympia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann in 1964 at Chattanooga. The following year, Shane made her New York City Opera debut as Donna Elvira in an English-language performance of Don Giovanni in the company’s last full season at New York City Center. Shane’s performances with NYCO at Lincoln Center in the 1960s included Madame Lidoine in The Dialogues of the Carmelites, Fata Morgana in The Love for Three Oranges, Donna Anna and the Queen of the Night. After an absence of a few seasons, Shane returned to NYCO in 1979, to create Aurelia Havisham in the world premiere of Miss Havisham’s Fire, by Dominick Argento; in later seasons, she sang Dircé in Medée and Giselda in I Lombardi for the company.
Shane sang seventy-one performances with the Metropolitan Opera in New York and tour, beginning with her 1973 debut as the Queen of the Night. Her other Met roles in her eight seasons on the roster were Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera, Musetta, Lucia, Berthe in Le Prophète, Gilda, Pamira in The Siege of Corinth and Violetta. In the U.S. premiere of Aribert Reimann’s Lear, at San Francisco Opera in 1981, Shane was Regan, a role that she later sang at Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich opposite Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s Lear. Shane also appeared with Lyric Opera of Chicago, New Orleans Opera Association, Philadelphia Lyric Opera, the Salzburg Festival, La Scala, De Nederlandse Opera, Opéra du Rhin and Grand Théâtre du Genève, among other theaters.
Shane was a member of the voice faculty at the Eastman School of Music from 1989 to 2014.

Courtesy: The Metropolitan Opera Guild

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Posted by on August 16, 2017 in Sopranos


MARGARET RITCHIE, Soprano * 7 June 1903, Grimsby + 7 Feb 1969, Ewelme, Oxon;

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Margaret Ritchie (1903-1969). She studied at the Royal College of Music and with Plunket Greene, Agnes Nicholls (two notable British singers of the early years of the 20th Century) and Sir Henry Wood. She first attracted attention as a student in a Royal College production of The Magic Flute in which she sang the role of Pamina. She then established a reputation as a concert singer and as principal soprano of the Intimate Opera Company which was founded by Frederick Woodhouse which was to remain in being until the 1970s and to inspire and revive many small-scale operatic works by British (and other) composers. In 1944 she joined Sadler’s Wells, and in 1946-7 she sang for Glyndebourne Opera, taking in 1946 the role of Lucia in Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia”. In 1947 she joined the English Opera Group where her performance as Miss Wordsworth in another Britten opera, Albert Herring. displayed her musical qualities and feeling for comedy. She was also admired in Handel, recording Galatea, and Elmira in “Sosarme”. She made one film in 1945 where she played the part of Adelina Patti. The film was ‘Pink String and Sealing Wax’.

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Posted by on August 8, 2017 in Sopranos


PATRICE MUNSEL, Soprano * 4 May 1925, Spokane, Washington, United States + 4 August 2016, Schroon Lake, New York;

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Affectionately known as “Princess Pat,” Patrice Munsel was a singer and actress known for her many talents including singing, ballet, tap-dancing, and even rhythmic whistling. One of Munsel’s major accomplishments is that she was the youngest singer/soprano accepted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. By the age of 27, Munsel had starred in more than 12 roles with the Metropolitan Opera.

Patrice Munsel was born in Spokane, Washington, to a dentist father and a mother who enthusiastically encouraged her. Musically inclined herself, Eunice Munsel helped her daughter achieve fame any way she could. At 12, Patrice took singing lessons. She sang for the conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, who advised her to take lessons in New York. A premature move, Munsel returned to Spokane to mature her voice. Besides being musically gifted, she was also athletically inclined. Attending Lewis and Clark High School, she was the captain of the girls’ football team. She also played the lead in the school’s version of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.

Her mother again took her to New York when she was 16. This time the young singer succeeded, taking voice lessons with William Herman and Renato Bellini, acting with Antoinette Stabile, and taking operatic lessons from Giacomo Spadoni. During this time she was also taking on French and Italian as foreign languages. In 1943, Munsel entered the Metropolitan Auditions of the Air, a radio show designed to offer young singers an opportunity to perform. For winning on the radio show, she won a plaque, $1,000, and a contract with the Met; thus her striving operatic career began.

Before starting at the Met, Munsel returned to Spokane to give her first professional concert. She also performed for servicemen, singing both operatic and popular tunes. She finally made her Metropolitan debut in December 1943. She portrayed Philine in the opera Mignon. Her roles included Olympia in Tales of Hoffmann and Gilda in Rigoletto. Reviewers criticized her performances, claiming her voice was not mature enough for the roles she was cast. Finally in December of 1944 when she was cast in The Barber of Seville did Munsel get the recognition she deserved. She portrayed Nellie Melba in the 1953 United Artists film Melba. In 1955, Munsel starred with Alfred Drake in Max Liebman’s Naughty Marietta. She made television guest appearances on The Wild, Wild West and The Alcoa Hour.

Following her operatic debut in 1943, Munsel sang on-stage, in film, and on television. Because she started a professional career at such a young age, she nurtured her voice to fit any operatic role. With a regimen of singing and acting lessons daily, she could attain the highest quality in her singing. She died at her home in Schroon Lake, New York in August 2016 at the age of 91, but will always be remembered as the youngest soprano of the Met.

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Posted by on August 4, 2017 in Sopranos


ANNY FELBERMAYER, Soprano * 24 July 1927, Vienna, Austria + 05 September 2014, Vienna, Austria;

The Austrian soprano, Anny Felbermayer, studied at the Vienna’s Musikakademie with Josef Witt and Elizabeth Rado. She won the Ceborati Prize in Vienna as well as singing competitions in Geneva and Verviers.

In 1951 Anny Felbermayer was appointed it to the Wiener Staatsoper, whose member she remained until 1982. Since 1952 she appeared for some successive years at the Salzburg Festival. There she sang in 1952 and 1956-1957 Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro as well as roles in portions in the Zauberflöte and in the premiere of the opera Die Liebe der Danaë by R. Strauss (August 1952 as Xanthe). In 1956 she participated in this festival in Mozart’s Idomeneo, in 1957 in Elektra by R. Strauss. She appeared as a guest, among other things, at Milan’s La Scala and at the opera (Théâtre de la Monnaie) of Brussels, at the Teatro Liceo Barcelona and at the Stadttheater of Graz.

As a beautifully formed, lyric soprano, Anny Felbermayer appeared on the stage in multiple roles, such as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, as Pamina in Zauberflöte, as Marzelline in Fidelio, as Ighino in Palestrina by Hans Pfitzner, as Nannetta in Falstaff by Verdi, in addition in numerous smaller roles. In the concert hall she excelled particularly as an oratorio singer.

Recordings: Decca (Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro, small roles in Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos, Frau ohne Schatten, Freischütz), Columbia (Zdenka in Arabella, Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Hänsel und Gretel), Cetra (Elektra, Salzburg 1957), beautiful oratorio and Lieder recordings on Amadeo-Vanguard.

Resulta ng larawan para sa Anny Felbermayer (Soprano)

Resulta ng larawan para sa Anny Felbermayer (Soprano)

Resulta ng larawan para sa Anny Felbermayer (Soprano)

Resulta ng larawan para sa Anny Felbermayer (Soprano) Bach Cantatas Website

Courtesy: Bach Cantatas Website

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Posted by on July 24, 2017 in Sopranos


AMY SHUARD, Soprano * 19 July 1924, London + 18 April 1975, London;

Amy Shuard

Amy Shuard CBE was an English dramatic soprano who achieved great acclaim in the roles of Elektra, Turandot and Brünnhilde.

Following studies at the Trinity College of Music she took lessons under the great Eva Turner and made her debut in South Africa in 1949 playing Aida and then Guilletta in The Tales of Hoffman. She also sang and Tannhauser.

Returning to Britain she sang at Sadler’s Wells before undergoing further studies in Italy. She returned to Britain again and remained based there, singing regularly at Covent Garden till her passing at the early age of 50.

Her roles included both title roles in Janáček’s Káťa Kabanová and Jenůfa (she played both leading roles in their British premieres). She also sang a wonderful Turandot in London with Franco Corelli following his enormous success in the role of Calaf the year previous in Italy with Birgit Nilsson.

She sang Carmen, Tosca, Turandot, Elektra, Madama Butterfly and Aida as well as Santuzza (Cavalleria Rusticana), Eboli (Don Carlos), Tatyana (Eugene Onegin), Magda Sorel (The Consul), Lady Macbeth (in the very first production of Verdi’s Macbeth at Covent Garden), and the Kostelnička in Jenůfa.

Noteably she recieved wide acclaim singing the heavier roles of Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, Elektra and Turandot.

She also sang Turandot, and Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung, Isolde, Sieglinde and Kundry.

Amy Schuard also sang at Bayreuth, La Scala, Vienna, Buenos Aires and San Francisco and she was the first soprano ever to sing Brünnhilde at the Royal Opera Covent Garden.

Described as “the best English dramatic soprano since Eva Turner” (her teacher) Amy Shuard was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
She died in 1975, at the early age of 50.

Amy Shuard made very few recordings but there are many recordings that were taken of her in live performance. They are testament to an exceptional voice.

Courtesy: Opera Arts

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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Sopranos


ELEANOR STEBER, Soprano * 17 July 1914, Wheeling, West Virginia, United States + 3 October 1990, Langhorne, Pennsylvania, United States;

The eminent American soprano, Eleanor Steber, grew up in a musical family. Her mother was an accomplished amateur singer and taught her voice and piano, took her to concerts, arranged for coaching, and strongly encouraged her to study and to sing in school and community shows. Eleanor later studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston, originally intending to major in piano, but her voice teacher, William Whitney, persuaded her to focus on singing, instead. She received Bachelor of Music in 1938. At the beginning she did a lot of radio, oratorio, and church work. Steber’s opera debut was in 1936, appearing as Senta with the Commonwealth Opera in a WPA production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, a demanding role indeed for a 21-year-old. In 1939, she went to New York to study with Paul Althouse who had a great influence on her. In 1940 she won first prize at the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air, earning a Met contract.

Eleanor Steber’s first role at the Met was Sophie in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier on December 6, 1940. During the next years she benefited from conductors such as Bruno Walter, Sir Thomas Beecham, Erich Leinsdorf and George Szell. She was a versatile artist and appeared in Italian, French and German operas. Things began to change for her at the Met when Rudolf Bing took over the company in 1950. By this time, her career extended well beyond New York (San Francisco, Chicago and Europe). At the Met, though, she began to feel that she was being passed over for mainstream Italian roles in favour of Tebaldi and Callas. Altogether she appeared 286 times in New York and 118 times on tour. She sang 28 leading roles in an extremely large repertoire. Her easy upper range, coupled with a rich, smoothly produced lower voice made her a natural for W.A. Mozart roles, which she sang brilliantly, such as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and even Konstanze in the Abduction from the Seraglio, with its vocal pyrotechnics, as well as in other W.A. Mozart operas. The 1951-52 season new production of Cosi fan tutte, Steidry conductor, Alfred Lunt director, with Steber as Fiordiligi, was a major event in the New York season and became a great hit, recorded on Columbia LP records.

As her voice matured, Eleanor Steber sang some of the spinto roles in both the German and Italian repertoire. Her roles in this repertoire included Violetta, Elisabetta, Desdemona, Marguerite, Manon Lescaut, Mimi, and Tosca, and the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. In Wagner’s operas she sang Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Elsa in Lohengrin. She was also the company’s first Arabella in 1955, and in 1959 was the first to perform at the Met the challenging part of Marie in Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck. Steber was perhaps most famous for her creation of in January 1958 of the title role in Samuel Barber’s opera Vanessa (but it was first offered to Maria Callas and Sena Jurinac who both declined), and for commissioning his Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Steber was one of the most important sopranos in the USA during the 1940’s and 1950’s, with a sweet and yet full voice, and outstanding versatility (her recitals were practically vocal pentathlons for their wide range of styles and vocal demands, and the day she sang Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello for a Met matinee and Fiordiligi in W.A. Mozart’s Così fan tutte that evening is still a legend). Her European engagements included appearances at Edinburgh (1947), Vienna (1953), and Glyndebourne. In 1953 she was amongst the first Americans to appear at the Bayreuth Festival after World War II. The very successful 1953 Elsa in the Bayreuth Lohengrin was recorded and issued by London/Decca; it is still in print on Sony CD.

In addition to opera and recitals, Eleanor Steber was a frequent guest on The Voice of Firestone’s television broadcasts. However, her career outlasted her voice, and most of her later appearances and recordings were gravely technically flawed.

Eleanor Steber’s relationship with the Met was not an easy one, for many reasons on both sides. In 1961, when Bing offered her a contract that only provided “covering” roles, she declined. After several years of absence from the Metropolitan Opera, she took part in the final gala performance of the old opera building in April 1966.

Eleanor Steber was not very happy in private life either, two marriages had fallen apart and she got into problems with alcohol and asthma. After partial retirement in 1962, she turned her attention more and more towards recitals and concerts. She made some appearances on Broadway, mostly in supporting parts, and also gave one of the notorious bathhouse concerts in New York in 1973. She and her husband opened and managed a record label, ST/AND (combining their names), but when they attempted to expand, it was a dismal flop.

Eleanor Steber was head of the voice department at the Cleveland Institute of Music from 1963 to 1972. She taught at the Juilliard School in New York, and at the New England Conservatory of Music (both from 1971), also at the American Institute of Music Studies in Graz (1978-1980; 1988). She established the Eleanor Steber Music Foundation in 1875 to assist young professional singers. With R. Beatie, she published study ‘Mozart Operatic Arias’ (New York, 1988). Her autobiography, written in collaboration with M. Sloat was published posthumously (New Jersey 1992).

Portrait (aged 23)

As Donna Elvira

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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Sopranos

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