(Born June 11, 1913, in New York City- March 20th 2013)
Rise Stevens was an American operatic mezzo-soprano who had a stellar career at the Metropolitan Opera during the forties and fifties commanding top billing with commensurate fees.
In 1939 she married Walter Surovy an Austrian actor and he became her manager skilfully manouvering her into areas that would possibly advance her career. One successful action attunded to publicity was to insure her voice for $1m with Lloyds of London in 1945.
She reigned as the Metropolitan's star mezzo for twenty years up until her retirment in 1961.
Hollywood produced several films as vehicles for her, including "The Chocolate Soldier" (41) "Going My Way" (44)
Her most successful roles included, "Cherubino," "Octavian," "Dalila," "Laura," "Hänsel and Gretel" "Carmen" and "Marina" in Boris Godunov.
Rise Stevens was an especially celebrated Carmen, which she performed (and recorded) several times over. She also appeared in Paris, London, at La Scala and at Glyndebourne. She was acclaimed for her great acting abilities as well as for her voice which had a rich lower register - and her beauty. In every sense she was a star and it was often said that she paved the way for other Mezzo Divas - because until she came along, Mezzos frequently did not get the recognition they deserved.
She also paired with Mario Del Monaco for a memorable Samson & Delilah- which was recorded by RCA. It is still regarded as one of the finest recordings of an opera ever made- with Del Monaco an excellent Samson and Rise Stevens in her prime, still considered by many today, as being the definitive "Dalilah".
Her last performance at the Met was as Carmen in 1961. Throughout her performing career she was famous for her versatility-She sang opera, excelled on radio and television , proved herself as an accomplished film and television actress, and on Broadway starred as Anna in The King and I, Lisa in Lady in the Dark.
She toured the U.S. annually for several decades doing recitals. In 1962, she recorded the voice of Glinda for Journey Back to Oz. After her retirement from the opera stage, Stevens served as General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera National Company until 1966 and later coached the new generation of singers at the Met. Rise Stevens made occasional television appearances too, including a guest-starring role on NBC's The Martha Raye Show. She died in her Manhattan home at the age of 99 - just three months short of becoming a Centenarian and was was cremated. Her only son Nicholas is a Broadway and screen actor.
Rise Stevens is one of the featured stars on our "Legends" product range.