Great American soprano Evelyn Lear died yesterday at 86. She was one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated American 0pera and concert singers, enjoying a long and remarkable career spanning 5 decades and including 7,500 operatic and concert performances.
Between 1959 and 1992, she appeared in more than forty operatic roles, appeared with every major opera company in the US and won a Grammy Award in 1966 for the recording of Wozzeck with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Fritz Wunderlich.
She was well known for her forays into contemporary music, and her performances as Lulu in Berg’s opera became a signature role. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf called Lear’s interpretation,
…one of the supreme achievements of the operatic stage anywhere in the world.
She was also a Strauss interpreter of note, and sang all three roles in Der Rosenkavalier.
Lear didn’t limit herself to just the more recent repertoire but sang Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She even tackled the title roles in Puccini’s Tosca and Manon Lescaut.
Lear retired from the stage in 1985 after a farewell performance at the Metropolitan Opera, but continued working. She taught extensively and gave master classes around the world.
Robert Jacobson, Editor of “Opera News”, said,
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Evelyn Lear is one of the most dynamic, most incisive teachers I have seen in action. She knows the key to unlocking the human psyche, so that a young performer’s gifts and personality can flourish freely and generously to make superb music