Metropolitan Opera Guild to Show Rare TV Footage at “Risë: A Celebration of Risë Stevens”
On September 18, the Metropolitan Opera Guild will celebrate the life and career of Risë Stevens with an evening tribute at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in NYC that will showcase the legendary mezzo-soprano in rare performance videos not seen since the 1950s. “Risë: A Celebration of Risë Stevens,” the Guild’s first event of the 2013-14 season, will benefit from extensive research that has yielded a wealth of television material not shown since the original broadcasts. Among the highlights: on the Voice of Firestone and the Steve Allen Show Stevens sings arias from Carmen, Samson et Dalila, Mignon, The Merry Widow and The Maid of Orleans, along with popular songs by Rodgers and Hart and Dietz and Schwartz. Also included is the fourth act of Carmen in the Met’s 1952 staging, with Stevens appearing opposite Richard Tucker, and popular tunes from her appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Guild will also show a new two-part video biography telling the story of her extraordinary life. The film uses photographs and moving images from her personal collection made available to the Guild by her son, actor Nicolas Surovy, who will also speak about his mother at the event.
The host for the evening will be the internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, who inherited a number of roles from Risë Stevens, including Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro. Other honored guests will be Licia Albanese, Lucine Amara, Harolyn Blackwell, Mignon Dunn, Rosalind Elias, Isabel Leonard and Roberta Peters. Proceeds from this important event will be used to inaugurate a Risë Stevens Memorial Fund to support Guild education programs. Ann Ziff is Chairman of the event.
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 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.
“Risë: A Celebration of Risë Stevens”
Wednesday, Sep 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