Steber, Eleanor, eminent American soprano; b. Wheeling, W.Va., July 17, 1914; d. Langhorne, Pa., Oct. 3, 1990. She studied shtminging with her mother; then with William Whitney at the New England Cons. of Music in Boston (Mus.B., 1938) and with Paul Althouse in N.Y. She won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air in 1940; made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier on Dec. 7, 1940, andremained with the company until 1962; altogether she appeared 286 times in N.Y. and 118 times on tour; she sang 28 leading roles in an extremely largerepertoire. She performed brilliantly in the roles of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, as well as in other Mozart operas; her other roleswere Violetta, Desdemona, Marguerite, Manon, Mimi, and Tosca; in Wagner’s operas she sang Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Elsa in Lohengrin; she also performed the challenging part of Marie in Berg’s opera Wozzeck. She sang the title role in the premiereof Samuel Barber’s opera Vanessa on Jan. 15, 1958. After severalyears of absence from the Metropolitan Opera, she took part in the final gala performance in the old opera building on April 16, 1966. Her European engagements included appearances at Edinburgh (1947), Vienna (1953), and the Bayreuth Festival (1953). After partial retirement in 1962, she was headof the voice dept. at the Cleveland Inst. of Music (1963–72); taughtatthe Juilliard School in N.Y. and at the New England Cons. of Music (bothfrom 1971); also at the American Inst. of Music Studies in Graz (1978–80; 1988). She established the Eleanor Steber Music Foundation in 1975 toassist young professional singers. With R. Beatie, she pubi, the study Mozart Operatic Arias (N.Y., 1988). Her autobiography, written in collaboration with M. Sloat, was pubi, posthumously (Ridgewood, N.J., 1992).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire