Renowned American Soprano Evelyn Lear died in Sandy Spring, Maryland at the age of 86. Born in Brooklyn, New York her exposure to music began in the home. Her mother was a professional singer and her maternal grandfather had been a Jewish cantor.
While studying at the Julliard School of Music she met baritone Thomas Stewart. In 1955, the two were married. The couple travelled to Berlin, looking for more opportunities for study and work. Both became members of the Deutsche Oper and in 1959 she made her opera debut in Ariadne auf Naxos.
The next year she took on one of her most noted roles.
“In 1960 Lear took on the role of Lulu at extremely short notice (‘an American never says no’) in a concert performance at the Vienna Festival conducted by Karl Böhm. It launched her international career, and was followed by stage performances and a DG recording withDietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Dr Schön. Schwarzkopf called her Lulu ‘one of the supreme achievements of the operatic stage anywhere in the world’. She was seen in the role in Britain at Sadler’s Wells and for Scottish Opera in Glasgow.”
Roger Pines, of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, said of her “She had it all: Beautiful woman, very fine actress, wonderful with languages.” She continued to work in Germany and in 1965 she returned to the United States to debut in her native land. Her American debut was in Kansas City as Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare. She went into retirement in 1985.
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Evelyn Lear with Orchestre Philharmonique et Chœurs de l’ORTF conducted by Karl Richter
Image | Erich Auerbach – Getty Images