There’s a great story in the New York Times about Lowell-born mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias. At the age of 82, Ms. Elias is veteran of the Metropolitan Opera singing over 45 roles in over 680 performances. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut on February 23, 1954. This past September she made her Broadway debut singing the role of Heidi in Steven Sondheim’s “Follies.” From all accounts she stops the show during every performance when she sings “One More Kiss.”
In his article Anthony Tommasini writes of how Ms. Elias’ musical life began in Lowell :
To become a singer, Ms. Elias said, she had to overcome the opposition of her stern father. Her parents, born in Beirut, Lebanon, were old-fashioned immigrants living in Lowell, Mass., where Ms. Elias was born, the last of 13 children and the only one with musical talent.
“I spoke Arabic before I spoke English,” she said, “because my mother was always home taking care of the children and hardly mingled in the neighborhood to learn English.” Ms. Elias, who had a natural singing voice, grew to love opera by listening to the Saturday broadcasts of the Met while doing her housecleaning chores.
Her father was successful in real estate, she said, though “the crash ruined him.” But he picked himself up and became successful again.
He still believed that “only bad girls go on the stage,” Ms. Elias said. She pleaded for voice lessons. He gave in, thinking it would come to nothing. She thrived, entered the New England Conservatory in Boston, then studied in Rome and returned to America primed for a career.
Read the full article here at nytmes.org.
Rosalind Elias was honored as a Distinguished Alumni of Lowell High School in 2007. Her biographical sketch notes:
Rosalind Elias graduated from Lowell High School in 1947. The American mezzo-soprano began her training at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where she sang with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After singing with the New England Opera, Rosalind Elias completed her training in Italy. Following engagements in Milan and Naples, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York in 1954. Rosalind originated roles in Barber’s Vanessa as Erika in 1958, and in Antony and Cleopatra as Charmian in 1966, and remained on its roster for over 30 years.