Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rise Stevens, Anyone??

The name Rise (ree-sah) Stevens may not be familiar with many of my readers; however, she was a musician of considerable import during the preceding century.
She was one of the Met's most durable and noted mezzo-sopranos, and sang innumerable roles during the period of her tenure with this famous operatic enterprise. I'm sure that her name will pop up if one goes to the Internet.
The reason I bring her name up now is; one, the obvious - namely, for you to become acquainted with this illustrious singer - the other reason is a story going back to my high school days:
As a sophomore, I became acquainted with a student in my classes whom we shall call "Bernice." Although she neither sang, nor played an instrument, she was a devotee of serious music, and she and I exchanged countless conversations about the great music and musicians of the day. We went together to many concerts, and enjoyed bathing in the musical world surrounding us.
One day, walking back from school, Bernice told me that she had been writing letters to someone named Rise Stevens, and was getting letters back from her regularly. I did not know the name Rise Stevens, and was thrilled to find out from Bernice who and what Rise Stevens was. The two never met; only letters were the base of their friendship. I'm still not sure how and why that exchange got started - I never asked Bernice about that. But I know that the famous singer and the high school sophomore we call Bernice wrote to each other for the next two years or so. We went to see Stevens twice in concert, but Bernice never indicated to me that she ever attempted to establish direct contact with one of the world's eminent singers of the time.
A childhood memory that remains with me.

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