We say goodbye to American mezzo Risë Stevens who passed away at 99-years-old in her Manhattan home yesterday. Below, a touching interview from her 2011 NEA Opera Honors.
Update 3/23/2013: The NEA's official statement
It is with great sadness that the National Endowment for the Arts acknowledges the passing of 2011 NEA Opera Honoree Risë Stevens. A mezzo-soprano who was trained in Europe, Stevens was known and respected worldwide for her vibrant career in opera. Stevens performed in 353 performances at the Metropolitan Opera – including 124 performances in the title role of Bizet's Carmen – before retiring from the Met in 1961. She went on to assume several important roles in the development of the future of opera in the United States, including co-director of the Met's newly created National Company in 1964, which was dedicated to taking opera on tour to dozens of American cities where opera was not available; president of the Mannes College of Music (1975-78); and as advisor on the Young Artist Development Program at the Met and executive director of its National Council Auditions (1980-88). The NEA joins many in the opera community and beyond in mourning this loss while celebrating Risë Stevens's life, career, and many contributions to the advancement of young opera singers.