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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Obituary: Evelyn Lear (1926-2012)

Soprano acclaimed for Mozart, Strauss and modern music.
Evelyn Lear as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier.
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Evelyn Lear, the critically acclaimed American soprano who thrilled audiences in repertory ranging from Die Zauberflöte to Lulu died yesterday at a nursing home in Maryland. She was 86.

The death was reported by Ms. Lear's son Jan Stewart. The cause of death was not reported. A full obituary appeared in the Washington Post.

Ms. Lear enjoyed a long stage and recording career, often appearing with her late husband, bass-baritone Thomas Stewart. Her first Met appearance came in the house premiere of Levy's Mourning Becomes Electra. She ended her run at New York's largest opera house with the Marschallin in a 1985 Der Rosenkavalier.

Her silvery soprano could soar through Mozart's arias, and can be heard to wonderful effect in Karl Böhm's Berlin recording of Die Zauberflöte. Her acting skills allowed her to embody difficult parts such as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier and Marie in Berg's Wozzeck.

She enjoyed a long association with the title role of Berg's Lulu, portraying the femme fatale in the Vienna premiere of the two-act version of the work. She went on to sing Lulu around the globe. Later in her career, Ms. Lear switched to the role of the Countess Geschwitz in the same opera.

On a personal note, I had the honor of being introduced to Ms. Lear at a post-concert party at Carnegie Hall. There was a small reception for Susan Graham in the Rohaytn Room following her performance of Berg's Seven Early Songs with the Orchestra of St. Lukes.

Me: "You're...Evelyn Lear."
Evelyn Lear: "Yes I am."
Me: "You're my favorite Pamina!"

We then started talking at some length about the Böhm recording--and I had some nice words to say about Thomas Stewart, a wonderful Wagner baritone in his own right. We then  rode the elevator together down to W. 57th St.

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