Death of a favourite Met mezzo, 90

Death of a favourite Met mezzo, 90


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2020

Rosalind Elias, who sang 687 times in more than 50 roles over 35 seasons at the Metropolitan Opera and on tour, has died aged 90.

The youngest of 13 children of Lebanese immigrants, she made her Met debut in 1954 as Grimgerde in Die Walküre. Her last performances were on Broadway in 2011 as Heidi Schiller in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.

Abroad, Elias sang in La Cenerentola for Scottish Opera in 1970, Carmen at the Vienna State Opera in 1972, and Baba the Turk in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress at Glyndebourne in 1975.

She married a fellow-Lebanese-American, Zoyhayr Moghrabi.



  • Greg Bottini says:

    Ah, that’s tough to read. Rosalind was a beautiful singer (and woman), and an all-time all-star Met stalwart.
    And I must mention this as a Bartok fan: she sang a beautiful and touching Judith in Ormandy’s recording of “Duke Bluebeard’s Castle”.
    You will be missed, dear Rosalind.

  • MezzoLover says:

    Rosalind Elias will no doubt be forever remembered as Erika in Barber’s kitschy Vanessa, but I lament the fact that her stupendous talent was never fully exploited by major record labels when she was at the peak of her power. Her wonderful Dorabella (which she sang in Salzburg in 1969) and Octavian, for example, were never recorded commercially.

    A tremendous loss. They don’t make ’em like that anymore…

  • Edgar Self says:

    I’ve heard her name all my life, and must have heard her many times on records and the Met broadcasts. Fifty roles! 684 performances at the Met! And the youngest of 13 children in an immigrant family from the Levant. Imagine what a life she must have lived, and was still singing nine years ago. I pay bewildered homage to the singer, artist, and woman. Ave atque vale.


    This will make her immortal, the role she created along with Brenda Lewis:

  • Joe Pearce says:

    I go back a long way with Rosalind Elias. She was in the very first Met Opera performance I ever attended, a student one of RIGOLETTO back in 1956. She became something of a star singer thanks to her Erika in VANESSA, and had a reasonably successful world career in the decade that followed, when she also recorded a few leading mezzo roles for RCA Victor, Columbia and the Met Opera Record Club. Although a fine singer and actress, her voice was really not all that exceptional in comparison to some other American mezzos of the period – Stevens, Thebom, Dalis, Rankin – maybe on a par with Mildred Miller’s, but she held her own as a total artist. A very nice woman, and the last time I saw her was when we both attended a 90th birthday party for Lucine Amara. One way or another, she was part of my life for over 60 years (I’d heard her even before I saw her in ’56), and all of New York’s opera community will miss her.

    • Edgar Self says:

      Good memories, Joe Pearce, and a fair estimate of Rosalind Elias’s career. Are you Jan’s brother? Different spelling, but it was a stage name, like Tucker, London, and Warren.

      I loved seeing the names Blanche Thebom, Judith Rankin, Ireme Dalis, but missed Gladys Swarthout.

      I saw Blanche Thebom in a concert “Lohengrin” with Fabian Sevitzky and the Indianapolis Symphony. It was pretty static. like even staged Lohengrins. She sang Brangaene in Furtwaengler’s “Tristan” with Flagstad and “Suthaus.

      Mildred Miller did some great Mahler with Bruno Walter. I remember “Song of the Earth” with, I think with Ernst Haefliger.