Monday, June 6, 2016

Phyllis Curtin (1921-2016)

Phyllis Curtin, the West Virginia-born soprano for whom Carlisle Floyd wrote his opera “Susannah” and who essayed roles ranging from Salome in the Richard Strauss opera to Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata,” has died at 94.

Curtin made her debut at the New York City Opera in 1953, sang regularly at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1960s and early ’70s, and performed internationally until her retirement from the stage in 1984.

She sang in the US premieres of Benjamin Britten’s “Peter Grimes,” with the young Leonard Bernstein conducting, in Boris Goldovsky’s 1946 production at the Tanglewood Music Center; Francis Poulenc’s “Les mamelles de Tirésias” at Brandeis University in 1953; and Britten’s “War Requiem,” with Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra, at Tanglewood in 1963.

Curtin also was active as a concert singer in recitals and with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra.

She conducted master classes at Tanglewood for 51 years, retiring in 2015. She taught at Yale University, serving as dean of its School of Music (1974-81), and Boston University, where she was dean of its School of The Arts (1981-91).

An obituary by Andrew L. Pincus in the The Berkshire (MA) Eagle: