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The Metropolitan Opera Guild salutes Risë Stevens (Sep 18)

In the first public event of its 2013-14 season, the Metropolitan Opera Guild will pay tribute to one of the 20th century’s great singing legends, Risë Stevens, who died in March at the age of 99. Hosted by Frederica von Stade, “Risë: A Celebration of Risë Stevens” will take place in New York City’s Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College on Wednesday, September 18, at 7:30pm. Among the speakers will be Rosalind Elias (who appeared with Stevens at the Met), Harolyn Blackwell (whom Stevens mentored while running the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions), Isabel Leonard (among the newest generation of mezzos to have inherited her roles), and Stevens’s own son, actor Nicolas Surovy. Licia Albanese, Lucine Amara, and Roberta Peters will be among those of Stevens’s Met co-stars also in attendance. The evening will include the first screening of the Guild’s new video biography of Risë Stevens, as well as a generous sampling of video clips of her performances from films and television appearances. Rarest of these will be highlights from the Met’s historic 1952 Carmen, directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie and co-starring Richard Tucker and Robert Merrill. Proceeds from this important event will be used to inaugurate a Risë Stevens Memorial Fund to support future Guild education programs.
Risë Stevens died on March 20 of this year, just three months shy of her 100th birthday. Blessed with a sensuous, velvet-toned voice, she was the Metropolitan Opera’s leading mezzo-soprano for 23 years from 1938 to 1961, and the only mezzo of that time to command the top billing more usually associated with sopranos and tenors. The quintessential Carmen of her generation, Stevens sang Bizet’s title role at the Met no fewer than 124 times. Other signature roles included Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Dalila in Samson et Dalila, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, and the title role of Mignon. In addition to performing on the world’s leading opera stages, she was known internationally for appearances opposite Nelson Eddy and Bing Crosby in the popular Hollywood films The Chocolate Soldier and Going My Way. A favorite on radio and television, she made countless appearances on such variety shows as The Voice of Firestone and The Ed Sullivan Show. Stevens elected to retire from the stage while still in her prime, after which she served as General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera National Company, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and a Managing Director of the Metropolitan Opera. She was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Opera Guild, from 1974 until her death. A 1990 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, in 2011 she was recognized by the National Endowment of the Arts for her contributions to opera.
As Paul Gruber, the Guild’s Executive Director, Program Development, comments:
“Risë Stevens was one of the great Met artists of the 20th century. She left her mark on every role she sang, including Gluck’s Orfeo, Mozart’s Cherubino, Saint-Saëns’s Dalila, Strauss’s Octavian and – above all – Bizet’s Carmen. Following her retirement as a singer, she served on the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s board for nearly 40 years. We are proud and delighted to present this celebration of her life and work.”
Host Frederica von Stade, a legendary mezzo in her own right, adds:
“Risë Stevens showed us the best of what it is to be a singer. She had the most beautiful voice and the most beautiful manner – warmth, generosity, and artistry radiated from her. I am so grateful to have the privilege of hosting this event in her honor. She should be celebrated every day of the year.”
Tickets to “Risë: A Celebration of Risë Stevens” will be sold exclusively by the Guild. They are available online at, and by telephone at (212) 769-7009.
“Risë: A Celebration of Risë Stevens”
Wednesday, September 18 at 7:30pm
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in New York City
68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues, New York City
•  Performance-only tickets: $45 for Guild members and Met patrons; $50 for general public
•  Premium tickets (includes premium seating for the performance and admission to a post-performance Champagne and dessert reception): $150
For further information and tickets, call (212) 769-7009, or visit
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© 21C Media Group, June 2013



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