Rysanek, Leonie , distinguished Austrian soprano; b. Vienna, Nov. 14, 1926; d. there, March 7, 1998. She studied at the Vienna Cons. with Rudolf Grossmann, whom she later married. She made her operatic debut as Agathe in Der Freischütz in Innsbruck in 1949; then sang at Saarbrücken (1950–52). She first attracted notice when she appeared as Sieglinde at the Bayreuth Festival in 1951; became a member of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in 1952, and went with it to London’s Co vent Garden in 1953, where she sang Danae; in 1954 she joined the Vienna State Opera; also sang in various other major European opera houses. On Sept. 18, 1956, she made her U.S. debut as Senta at the San Francisco Opera; later made a spectacular appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. on Feb. 5, 1959, when she replaced Maria Callas in the role of Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s opera on short notice; she continued to sing there with notable distinction for some 35 years. She received the Lotte Lehmann Ring from the Vienna State Opera in 1979. In 1984 she toured Japan with the Hamburg State Opera. In 1986 she appeared as Kostelnička in Jenůfa in San Francisco. She sang Kabanicha in Kat’á Kabanovâ in Los Angeles in 1988. In 1990 she appeared as Herodias at the Deutsche Opera in Berlin. In 1992 she sang the Countess in The Queen of Spades in Barcelona, a role she repeated for her farewell appearance at the Metropolitan Opera on Jan. 2, 1996. Her younger sister Lotte Rysanek (b. Vienna, March 18, 1928) attained a fine reputation in Vienna as a lyric soprano.
P. Dusek and P. Schmidt, L. R.: 40 Jahre Operngeschichte (Hamburg, 1990).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire