|Force of Nature: Dolora Zajick leads the next|
generation of large voices in opera
(Photo: David Sauer)
"Evelyn Lear (January 8, 1926 – July 1, 2012) was an American operatic soprano. Between 1959 and 1992, she appeared in more than forty operatic roles, appeared with every major opera company in the United States and won a Grammy Award in 1966. She was well known for her musical versatility, having sung all three main female roles in Der Rosenkavalier. Lear was also known for her work on 20th century pieces by Robert Ward, Alban Berg, Marvin David Levy, Rudolf Kelterborn and Giselher Klebe. She was married to the American bass-baritone Thomas Stewart until his death in 2006. Lear was born as Evelyn Shulman in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Nina (Kwartin), a coloratura, and Nathan Shulman and granddaughter of the distinguished cantor Zavel Kwartin.
Her family was Russian Jewish. She completed her musical education at Hunter College, New York University and the Juilliard School of Music studying voice, piano, French horn and composition. She married Walter Lear, a physician and later political activist, divorcing in the mid-1950s. While at Juilliard she studied under Sergius Kagen and met her future husband, baritone Thomas Stewart. Both Lear and Stewart won Fulbright scholarships to study at Hochschule für Musik in Berlin where she studied with Maria Ivogün. Lear started her opera career as a member of the Städtische Oper Berlin in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos playing the Composer, a lead role which she would later play at a number of leading opera houses. She played the title role in Alban Berg’s Lulu in 1960 in its Austrian debut in concert form. She had only three weeks to learn the role, having been called in as a late replacement. Her performance was so well received that she played the role in the first staged version since World War II at the Theater an der Wien at the Vienna Festival of 1962 with Karl Böhm conducting. The performance was repeated in 1964 and recorded by
Deutsche Grammophon. She also performed in Lulu in the late 1980s, albeit in the mezzo-soprano supporting role of the Countess Geschwitz. She appeared as Nina Cavallini in Robert Altman's 1976 film Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson. In 1989, she played the role of Queen Elizabeth I of England in the musical Elizabeth and Essex, based on Maxwell Anderson's 1930 play. Lear created a number of roles during her career. In 1955, having just graduated from Juilliard, she created the role of the heroine Nina in Marc Blitzstein's Reuben, Reuben – a role that would prompt Leonard Bernstein to name his daughter Nina. In 1961, she created the title role of Giselher Klebe's Alkmene in Berlin. Two years later, she created another role as Jeanne in Werner Egk's Die Verlobung in San Domingo in the reopening of the Munich Nationaltheater.Source]