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Teresa Stratas Biography, Career, Filmography and Personal Life

Teresa Stratas Biography

Teresa Stratas , is a retired Canadian operatic soprano of Greek descent ,born in May 26, 1938, Toronto, Ontario. She is especially well known for her award-winning recording of Alban Berg’s Lulu. Stratas was born Anastasia Stratakis to a struggling immigrant Cretan family in Oshawa, near Toronto, Ontario. At age 13, she performed Greek pop songs on the radio. She graduated from The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. At age 20, Stratas made her professional opera debut as Mimì in La bohème at the Toronto Opera Festival. One year later in 1959, she co-won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, appearing later that year with the Metropolitan Opera as Poussette in Manon.

She created the title role in Peggy Glanville-Hicks’ Nausicaa at the Herod Atticus Theatre in Athens in 1961, made her Covent Garden debut as Mimì that same year and in 1962, she made her La Scala debut as Isabella in Manuel de Falla’s L’Atlántida. She continued her career with the Metropolitan Opera, moved into leading roles and performed with leading opera houses around the world, including the Bolshoi, Vienna State, Berlin, Bavarian State (Munich), Paris and San Francisco Operas as well as the Salzburg Festival.

Teresa Stratas Career

In the year 1974, she made a film (directed by Götz Friedrich) of Strauss’ Salome with the Vienna Philharmonic under Karl Böhm. Pierre Boulez chose her to sing the title role in the first performance of Friedrich Cerha’s completed version of Alban Berg’s Lulu (Paris, 1979). In 1981 she performed the role of Mimi in La bohème at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. On 26 September 1989, she sang all three soprano roles in Puccini’s Trittico, Giorgetta in Il tabarro, Angelica in Suor Angelica and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (Met). She created the role of Marie Antoinette in the premiere of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles (Met, 1991). At the opening night of the Met’s 1994 season, she sang Nedda in Pagliacci opposite Luciano Pavarotti and Giorgetta in Il tabarro opposite Plácido Domingo.

During her 36 year career at the Metropolitan Opera, she appeared in 385 performances of 41 different roles. Her most frequently performed roles at the house include Liu in Turandot  which included 27 performances between 1961 and 1995,  Nedda in Pagliacci (27 performances between 1963 and 1994) and Mimì in La bohème (26 performances between 1962 and 1982). Her final performance with the company was on December 9, 1995, as Jenny in The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. She was engaged to sing Marenka in a revival of The Bartered Bride during the 1996-97 season, but withdrew from all of the performances prior to opening night, and subsequently never returned to the house again.While rehearsing for Mahagonny in 1979, Stratas met the originator of her role, Lotte Lenya, who was also Kurt Weill’s widow. Lenya gave her the scores of previously unpublished Weill songs which she had hoarded until that time, some of which Stratas later recorded on two albums, The Unknown Kurt Weill and Stratas Sings Weill.She also starred in several film adaptations of operas, including Salome (1974), Amahl and the Night Visitors (1978), The Bartered Bride (1975), Pagliacci (1982) and La traviata (1983).

In the year 1988, she recorded the role of Julie La Verne in EMI’s 3-CD set of the complete score of Kern and Hammerstein’s classic musical Show Boat, conducted by John McGlinn. Also starring with her were Frederica Von Stade as Magnolia, Jerry Hadley as Gaylord Ravenal, and Bruce Hubbard as Joe. This was the first-ever complete recording of the score, using Robert Russell Bennett’s original 1927 orchestrations, Will Vodery’s vocal arrangements, and all of Oscar Hammerstein II’s uncensored lyrics. Critics acclaimed it as the finest recording of Show Boat ever made.In the 1980s Stratas travelled to Calcutta and worked with Blessed Mother Teresa in an orphanage and at the Kalighat Home for the Dying. In the 1990s she again took time from her career to move into a Romanian hospital to clean cots and wash and care for the sick and dying orphans. On September 25, 2008, Teresa Stratas returned to New York for an interview with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, her first public appearance in over a decade. She lives in Florida.

Teresa Stratas Personal Life

She has been married to Tony Harrison since the year 1984.

Teresa Stratas Awards and recognition

  1. Stratas’ star on Canada’s Walk of Fame
  2. Grammy Awards & Grammy nominations
  3. Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording and Grammy Award for Best Classical Album for Alban Berg’s Lulu (1981)
  4. Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording for Verdi’s La traviata (1984)
  5. Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress – Musical for Rags (1987)
  6. Nominee for Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for Rags (1987)
  7. Officer of the Order of Canada (1972)
  8. Artist of the Year Canadian Music Council (1980)
  9. Honorary LL D (McMaster University) (1986)
  10. Honorary LL D (University of Toronto) (1994)
  11. Honorary LL D (Eastman School of Music) (1998)
  12. Honorary D LITT (York University) (2000)
  13. Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement (2000)
  14. Star in Canada’s Walk of Fame (2001)
  15. MasterWorks recipient for Alban Berg’s Lulu (2005)

Teresa Stratas Filmography

  1. Giuditta (1970) – Stratas, Schock – operetta F. Lehar (movie made in Germany)
  2. Der Zarewitsch (1973) – Stratas, Ochman – operetta F. Lehar (movie made in Germany) directed by Arthur Maria Rabenalt
  3. Salome (1974) – title role, conducted by Karl Böhm, directed by Götz Friedrich
  4. The Bartered Bride (1978) – with Nicolai Gedda, and Jon Vickers, directed by John Dexter
  5. Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1979) – with Astrid Varnay and Richard Cassilly, directed by Dexter
  6. La bohème (1981) – as Mimì, with José Carreras and Renata Scotto, directed by Franco Zeffirelli
  7. Pagliacci (1982) – as Nedda, with Domingo, directed by Zeffirelli
  8. La traviata (1983) – as Violetta, with Domingo and Cornell MacNeil, directed by Zeffirelli
  9. Stratasphere: Portrait of Teresa Stratas (1989) – documentary
  10. Così fan tutte . Stratas, Edita Gruberová, Luis Lima, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Delores Ziegler, Vienna Philharmonic, cond. Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. Deutsche Grammophon
  11. The Blasphemers’ Banquet (1989)
  12. The Ghosts of Versailles (1991) – Stratas, Fleming, Horne, Hagegård, G. Quilico, Berberian, Met Opera, cond.James Levine. Directed by Colin Graham
  13. Under the Piano (1996) – Teresa Stratas, Amanda Plummer, Megan Follows.
Teresa Stratas Photo

Teresa Stratas Photo