The Met loses a persistent autograph hunter

The Met loses a persistent autograph hunter


norman lebrecht

April 08, 2021

The NY Times has an obit for Lois Kirschenbaum, 88.

For more than a half-century, nearly every prominent singer to perform at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera could expect to be approached backstage afterward by a wispy woman in thick glasses, who held piles of memorabilia to be autographed while she praised their performance in a raspy Brooklyn accent…..

… few prominent singers went home without signing numerous items for Kirschenbaum, whose constant desire to get backstage helped her befriend some of the world’s most famous opera singers, from Beverly Sills to Plácido Domingo…..

“It was like getting a special type of approval,” mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade said. “I never met anyone who didn’t welcome her backstage and want to hang out with her.”




  • Tiredofitall says:

    It is easy to dismiss Lois as a mere autograph hunter, but her omnipresence at the Met was reassuring that opera was somehow still a popular art form and singers mattered.

    I remember when we had both the Met and City Opera, often competing on the same evening. The atmosphere on the Plaza was electric…fueled by Lois and a small army of like-minded fanatics.

    Sadly, those halcyon days were decades ago.

  • phf655 says:

    I ‘knew’ her, though she probably didn’t know me. She represents a fierce allegiance to an art form – singer driven – that no longer exists. In her heyday, the early years of the ‘new’ house, there were constant cast rotations; during a run of an opera, there would usually be several different singers in a role. This made it exciting for people like her, and made her store of information invaluable. There are stories about the house management reaching out to her to find out if a singer was available on a certain night. I had little contact with her in recent years, but I often wondered how she reacted to the stagione/regieoper regime of the house as it has existed for several decades now. And for that matter, the obvious decline in vocalism and operatic ‘personality’. Thus, I find the news of her passing very sad, and symbolic of a lot of things.