Remembering Rosalind Elias '51, '82 Hon. D.M.

Rosalind Elias '51, '82 Hon. D.M. was a singular artist whose contributions to the opera field continue to inspire.

Rosalind Elias

Rosalind Elias '51, '82 Hon. D.M., who sang 687 performances and 54 roles at the Metropolitan Opera over four decades of her career, has died at the age of 90.

Elias was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1930 and attended New England Conservatory after listening to radio broadcasts of Met performances and persuading her parents to pay for voice lessons. She went on to an illustrious career marked by performances at the Met, Tanglewood, and a Broadway debut at age 81 in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.

She was noted for her portrayals of Bizet’s Carmen, Octavian in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte, and others, and originated roles in two Samuel Barber operas.

She also played a variety of cherished Sondheim roles, including Mrs. Lovett in the New York City Opera premiere of Sweeney Todd in 1984, and Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music in 2008.

Rosalind Elias smiles while wearing a gown on the Jordan Hall stage.
Rosalind Elias in Jordan Hall.

Elias graduated with her Bachelor of Music from NEC in 1951, having studied with director Boris Goldovsky, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in 1982.

Current Opera department chair Joshua Major remembers her warmth and attentiveness upon meeting her early in his own career:

"I remember meeting her as a young man and being overwhelmed by her interest and concern for me as a young director. Who was I next to this remarkable artist? The second time I met her I was overwhelmed that she had remembered the first time we met.

Rosalind was a great artist and leaves in her wake a beautiful legacy."

“I feel we were all put on earth for a purpose and mine was singing,” Elias told The New York Times in 1985.

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