Opera Music Theater International
OMTI Lifetime Achievement Award
celebrated soprano Evelyn Lear has sung more than forty operatic roles
in the great opera houses of the world. She has appeared as a star with
virtually every major opera company in the United States, from the
Metropolitan Opera to San Francisco Opera, and in Europe has appeared at
La Scala, Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, Vienna State Opera, and the
Berlin, Hamburg and Munich Operas. She has sung with the Canadian Opera,
and in Buenos Aires with Teatro Colon. Miss Lear has also appeared in
major festivals from Edinburgh, Holland, Salzburg, Munich and Florence
to Tanglewood, Ravinia, Blossom, Aspen and the Hollywood Bowl.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Miss Lear was educated at Hunter
College, New York University, and the Juilliard School of Music, where
she studied piano, composition, French horn, percussion and voice. In
1957 a Fulbright fellowship enabled her to study at the Hochschule fur
Musik in Berlin. In 1959 she became a member of the Berlin Opera
Company. Her first performance there was as the Composer in Ariadne auf
Naxos, a role she later repeated at Vienna, Hamburg, Munich, and the
Metropolitan Opera. In 1960, on three weeks notice, Miss Lear learned
the title role in Alban Berg's Lulu for the Austrian premiere (in
concert form) in Vienna. The performance proved so successful that the
first staged version since World War II was presented at Theater an der
Wien during the Vienna Festival of 1962, with Miss Lear in the title
role, under the baton of Karl Böhm. The triumphant production was
repeated in 1964. In 1965 she made her Covent Garden debut as Donna
Elvira in Don Giovanni. That same year Miss Lear was invited to make her
American debut as Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare at the gala
opening of the Kansas City Performing Arts Center, as well as her debut
at the San Francisco Opera as Lulu. In 1966 she made her Chicago Lyric
Opera debut as Poppea in Monteverdi's Coronation of Poppea.
Evelyn Lear's debut with the Metropolitan Opera came in 1967 when she
created the role of Lavinia in Levy's Mourning Becomes Electra. In the
meantime, she was in constant demand throughout the world repeating her
success in Lulu, an opera she recorded along with Berg's Wozzeck. Her
extensive discography has included complete recordings of Der
Rosenkavalier, The Magic Flute and Boris Godunov, as well as song
literature from Schumann to Sondheim for such companies as Polydor, DGG,
Philips, EMI and CBS (see discography). In addition to Mourning Becomes
Electra at the Metropolitan Opera, Miss Lear has created leading roles
in world premieres including Klebe's Alkmene (Berlin), Pasatieri's The
Seagull (Washington, D.C.), Kelterborn's The Cherry Orchard (Zürich),
and Werner Egk's Verlobung in Santa Domingo (Münich).
The soprano's versatility was evident when she sang both Cherubino and
Countess Almaviva in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Despina and
Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Carmen and Micaela in Carmen, Lulu and
Countess Geschwitz in Lulu, the Composer and Zerbinetta in Aradne auf
Naxos, and the Dido of both Berlioz's Les Troyens and Purcell's Dido and
In Miss Lear's extensive career as a recitalist, Richard Strauss has
always been a favored composer. She made her London debut in a
performance of the Four Last Songs, which became an important part of
her orchestral repertoire. She has appeared with every major symphony
orchestra in Europe and America and worked with such renowned conductors
as Claudio Abbado, Karl Böhm, Pierre Boulez, Sir Adrian Boult, James
Conlon, Colin Davis, Carlos Kleiber, Erich Leinsdorf, James Levine,
Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Eugene Ormandy, Seiji Ozawa, Michael Tilson
Thomas, and Edo de Waart.
Miss Lear's association with Der Rosenkavalier in particular has been a
long one. Early in her career she sang the role of Sophie in provincial
German opera houses. Later she sang Octavian in the major opera houses
of the world such as Vienna, Berlin, and the Metropolitan. Miss Lear's
greatest triumph with Der Rosenkavalier came, however, with her
portrayal as the Marschallin. She made her debut in this role in Berlin
in 1971, and in the years that followed sang the Marschallin in
Brussels, Buenos Aires, the Metropolitan Opera, and La Scala among other
houses. It was at the Metropolitan that she sang her farewell
performance in this role in 1985.
The soprano appeared as Nina Cavallini in the 1974 Robert Altman film
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, and in 1984 starred in a new musical in
New York entitled Elizabeth and Essex, in which she portrayed Elizabeth.
Among her many awards, Evelyn Lear was honored with the title of "Kammersängerin"
by the senate of West Berlin, with the Max Reinhardt Award in Salzburg,
as well as many Grammy awards for her operatic recordings.
Evelyn Lear has received the Opera Music Theater International Lifetime
Achievement Award for her illustrious career in the history of opera,
and her commitment to a new generation of OMTI Emerging Artists, through
the OMTI Master Class Series at the National Museum of Women in the
Arts, as adjudicator of OMTI International Vocal Competitions, and
International Singers Forum.
USAir is an official sponsor of OMTI.