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Evelyn Lear (1926 - 2012)

Evelyn Lear was born Evelyn Shulman into a Russian Jewish family. Her grandfather was a cantor and her mother a coloratura soprano, while her father was a lawyer. She studied music at Hunter College, New York University and after graduating married Walter Lear, a doctor, and moved to Washington State. When the marriage collapsed during the early 1950s, she returned to New York and enrolled to study voice, piano, French horn and composition at the Juilliard School of Music. Here she was a voice pupil of Sergius Kagen and met her future second husband, the baritone Thomas Stewart, while working on a duet from Porgy and Bess. Immediately after graduating, Lear created the role of Nina in Marc Blitzstein’s Reuben, Reuben and married Stewart, both in 1955.

During the following year they moved to Berlin, having gained Fulbright scholarships to study at the Berlin High School for Music. Here Lear was a pupil of Maria Ivogün and in 1959 made her European debut as the Composer / Ariadne auf Naxos at Berlin’s Städtische Oper (of which she was a member from 1959 to1964). She made her British debut also in 1959, singing Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder under Boult with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.




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