Arlene Saunders, Soprano With a Dramatic Flair, Dies at 89

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lennygoran
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Arlene Saunders, Soprano With a Dramatic Flair, Dies at 89

Post by lennygoran » Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:48 am

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Arlene Saunders, Soprano With a Dramatic Flair, Dies at 89


Those We’ve Lost
Arlene Saunders, Soprano With a Dramatic Flair, Dies at 89

Ms. Saunders, who had the coronavirus, was a charismatic performer who could sing “as easily as if she were conversing.”


By Joshua Barone

April 29, 2020

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Arlene Saunders, a charismatic soprano who was a fixture of opera companies in New York and Hamburg, Germany, died on April 17 at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx. She was 89.

Lisa A. Raskin, her stepdaughter, said the cause was complications of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Ms. Saunders was never wanting for praise for her musicianship, but she rose to fame as an affecting performer with dramatic authority. As Eva in Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” at the Metropolitan Opera, she was described in The New York Times as “singing as easily as if she were conversing.” And The Times, writing about a stadium concert in 1963, said she had “something rare and exciting in a soprano: a genuine flare.”


Arlene Pearl Soszynski was born on Oct. 5, 1930, in Cleveland to Walter and Julia Soszynski. She grew up there and went to college at Baldwin Wallace University in nearby Berea, Ohio.

Her career was sparked by two debuts in 1961, both as Mimì in Puccini’s “La Bohème”: at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan, and with New York City Opera.

The Times’s review of the City Opera production began, “Arlene Saunders is a soprano who can sing beautifully, act effectively and illuminate any operatic stage fortunate enough to be graced by her talents.” She would go on to star in more classics with the company, including Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West,” Bizet’s “Carmen” and Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.”

She continued to perform internationally in the 1960s, singing Pamina in “The Magic Flute” at the Glyndebourne Festival in Britain and becoming a regular at the Hamburg State Opera — where she performed in the premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti’s “Help, Help, the Globolinks!” in 1968 and was honored with the title Kammersängerin.

When the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts opened in 1971, Ms. Saunders starred in its inaugural opera, Ginastera’s “Beatrix Cenci.” She also made a belated debut with the Met that decade in “Meistersinger.” Her farewell came in 1985, in “Der Rosenkavalier” at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

In 1986, Ms. Saunders returned to New York and married Dr. Raymond A. Raskin, who died in 2017. She is survived by her stepchildren, Ms. Raskin and Dr. Jonathan M. Raskin, as well as two step-grandchildren.

Away from the stage, she was never far from opera. She led programs, including one at New York University, and for most of the 1990s ran a nonprofit group called Opera Mobilé, which packed a production of “Pagliacci” in a truck to be staged in parks throughout New York City.

Joshua Barone is a senior staff editor on the Culture Desk, where he writes about classical music and other fields including dance, theater and visual art and architecture. @joshbarone • Facebook


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/29/obit ... virus.html

Donald Isler
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Re: Arlene Saunders, Soprano With a Dramatic Flair, Dies at 89

Post by Donald Isler » Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:15 am

Her stepson, Dr. Jonathan Raskin, was a high school classmate of mine, and was also very ill from the Corona virus. During his recovery he did an interview with another classmate about his experience with the illness, and that can be found on YouTube. His mother was the soprano, Judith Raskin, after whose death his father married Ms. Saunders.
Donald Isler

barney
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Re: Arlene Saunders, Soprano With a Dramatic Flair, Dies at 89

Post by barney » Sat May 02, 2020 7:09 am

Donald Isler wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:15 am
Her stepson, Dr. Jonathan Raskin, was a high school classmate of mine, and was also very ill from the Corona virus. During his recovery he did an interview with another classmate about his experience with the illness, and that can be found on YouTube. His mother was the soprano, Judith Raskin, after whose death his father married Ms. Saunders.
I didn't know Ms Saunders but Judith Raskin is responsible for one of the most beautiful Urlichts of all in Mahler 4.

maestrob
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Re: Arlene Saunders, Soprano With a Dramatic Flair, Dies at 89

Post by maestrob » Sat May 02, 2020 11:16 am

Small world.

Judith Raskin studied voice with my voice teacher, Dan Merriman, during the early and middle 1980's. After her first bout with cancer, she lost her voice, and Merriman put her back together vocally, teaching her a vocal technique which she used while she was teaching at Manhattan School during that time. Raskin was known for her Mahler IV and the Mozart Exultate Jubilate, which she recorded with George Szell before her illness for Columbia records. She also chose to record Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress in the world premiere release with the composer conducting, over making her debut at Glyndebourne, as well as other major recordings with Columbia. I had the privilege of observing her lesions, in the studio as I was learning Merriman's technique at the time as well. After Merriman restored her voice, Raskin proceeded to give a recital of fiendishly difficult modern music in 1985(?): unfortunately, no recording exists of her extraordinary musicianship on that occasion.

Sadly, Raskin's cancer returned. I remember being present when, after her abdominal operation, she called Dan's studio and proceeded to sing scales from her hospital bed culminating in a high D that, she said, proved Merriman's technique worked, which made clear through anatomical study that singing took place only in the throat and did not need the "support" of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles! She passed soon after.

A truly great artist. I didn't know her husband had remarried, and offer my deepest condolences.

barney
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Re: Arlene Saunders, Soprano With a Dramatic Flair, Dies at 89

Post by barney » Sat May 02, 2020 5:55 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 11:16 am
I had the privilege of observing her lesions, in the studio as I was learning Merriman's technique at the time as well.
You obviously knew her more intimately than the rest of us, Brian. :D
But typos aside, that is an interesting story.

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