The Met’s legendary Carmen passes away at her Manhattan home at the ripe old age of 99.
Born Risë Steenberg, of Norwegian, Polish and Russian descent, Stevens studied at the Juilliard School before travelling abroad to complete her training in Vienna.
She made her debut in Prague as Thomas’ waif-like heroine Mignon in 1936 and soon secured contracts with the Vienna State Opera, which lead to her first appearance as Octavian – a part, which with Carmen, soon became a signature role. In 1938 she returned to America to make her Metropolitan Opera debut as Mignon on a Met tour to Philadelphia. Three days later she sang Octavian in New York with Lotte Lehmann as the Marshallin.
In 1939 Stevens married Walter Surovy, an Austrian screen actor who had fled the Nazi’s to New York. From that point onwards Surovy became her manager, expanding her career and handling a highly successful publicity campaign. Performances in the 1940s and 1950s included London, La Scala, Paris and Glyndebourne. In 1945 Stevens’ voice was famously insured for $1 million by Lloyds of London.
As a result, alongside her performances onstage, Stevens had a highly successful Hollywood career, appearing in popular films of operetta including...