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Video Published: 05 Feb 2024

NEA Opera Honors: An Oral History with Risë Stevens

In 2011, mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens was awarded an NEA Opera Honors award and sat down for an interview about opera and their life.

This interview was originally posted by the NEA on November 2, 2011.
The Oral History Project is supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. 

Risë Stevens, mezzo-soprano

Risë Stevens (1913–2013) was a star mezzo-soprano of the Metropolitan Opera, appearing 353 times with the company from 1938 through 1961. She took on many of the great mezzo roles, including Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice, Dalila in Samson et Dalila, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, and the title role of Carmen, which she performed 124 times at the Met. Stevens appeared in the films The Chocolate Soldier (1941) with Nelson Eddy and Going My Way (1944) with Bing Crosby and performed frequently on early television programs like The Voice of Firestone and The Ed Sullivan Show. Following her retirement from the stage, Stevens was named co-director of the Met's newly created National Company, which was dedicated to taking opera on tour to dozens of American cities. She also served as president of the Mannes College of Music (1975–1978) and rejoined the Met as advisor on the Young Artist Development Program and executive director of its National Council Auditions (1980–1988).

Stevens was a 2011 recipient of the NEA Opera Honors, a program administered by the National Endowment for the Arts from 2008 to 2011. The NEA Opera Honors recipients are now recognized in OPERA America’s Opera Hall of Fame.

Oral History Project

Discover the full collection of oral histories at the link below.