La Scena Musicale

Monday, 2 July 2012

In Memoriam: Evelyn Lear (Jan 8 1926 - July 1 2012)

Evelyn Lear (Jan. 8 1926 - July 1 2012)

by Joseph So

With the passing of American soprano Evelyn Lear, the opera world has lost one of its most esteemed artists. According to a report in the Washington Post, Lear died earlier today (July 1) at the Brooke Grove Nursing Center in Sandy Spring at the age of 86. Her passing was confirmed by her son, Jan Stewart. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Lear attended Hunter College and the Juilliard School, later at the Berliner Hochschule fur Musik on a Fulbright Scholarship, studying voice with soprano Maria Ivogun, who was also the teacher of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.  According to her official website < >, Lear's career spanned five decades and she sang a staggering 7,500 opera and concert performances.  She was renowned for her interpretation of the works of Mozart (Pamina, Donna Elvira, Contessa, Cherubino, Fiordiligi), Strauss (Ariadne, Komponist, Marschallin, Octavian), Mahler, and Alban Berg (Lulu, Marie), as well as contemporary composers the likes of Marvin David Levy, Leonard Bernstein, and Thomas Pasatieri. She created the role of Lavinia in Levy's Mourning Becomes Electra, a role that marked her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1967. Her silvery soprano and her musical intelligence were praised by audience and critics alike. She worked with many great conductors throughout her career, including Karl Bohm, who was instrumental in her career. She sang for many seasons at the Met, and made her farewell there as the Marschallin in 1985.  She sang in Toronto on a number of occasions, as Giulietta in Tales of Hoffmann and Countess Geschwitz in Lulu, and as soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She also taught masterclasses at the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio.  She married her second husband, bass-baritone Thomas Stewart in 1955 until his death in 2006.  After her retirement, Lear became a highly sought after teacher and jury panelist in competitions.  To remember this wonderful artist, here is a Youtube clip of her singing Richard Strauss' Morgen.



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