Born: December 24, 1927; West Hartford, CT
Died: July 17, 2007; Vienna, Austria
While American-born sopranos have been making waves since the days of Lillian Nordica in the early 1900s, West Hartford, CN, native Teresa Stich-Randall may have been the first American soprano whose popularity abroad outstripped her reputation at home. Stich-Randall studied voice at the Hartt School of Music, Columbia University, and finally New York University, where she made her debut in 1947 creating the role of Gertrude Stein in the premiereRead more of Virgil Thomson's opera The Mother of Us All. In 1948 Stich-Randall also created the title role in Otto Luening's opera Evangeline. Stich-Randall's talents attracted the attention of maestro Arturo Toscanini, who cast her in a number of parts in the 1949-1950 season, fortunately so in the minor part of Nanetta in Toscanini's last performance of Verdi's opera Falstaff, leading to Stich-Randall's presence on one of the most celebrated recorded opera sets ever made.
In 1951 Stich-Randall made her European debut in Florence, Italy, and that same year took first prize in an international singing competition held in Lausanne. This established Stich-Randall's reputation in Europe, and although she would perform with the Chicago Lyric Opera, at the Metropolitan in New York, and on American concert tours as a soloist in the coming years, it was in Europe that most of her subsequent activity was centered. Stich-Randall was named an Austrian Kammersängerin in 1962 and was the first American accorded this particular honor; afterwards, she was contracted to the Vienna State Opera and sang there primarily until her retirement around 1980. Outside of much-heralded visits home to West Hartford in 1982 and 1983, Stich-Randall had been little heard from after that.
Although Teresa Stich-Randall is hardly a household name, she had many fans among those who collect vintage vocal recordings. In her concert career she frequently sang works by Handel and J.S. Bach. Stich-Randall's approach to Baroque music was signified by her light tone with no more than a subtle vibrato, clear enunciation, and an infallible sense of pitch. Stich-Randall was definitely ahead of the game in regard to latter-day period performance practice, and her best recordings generously bear this out, in particular her 1966 Vanguard recording of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater with alto Elisabeth Höngen. Read less