Rosalind Elias was born into a large Lebanese-American family in Massachusetts and studied first at the New England Conservatory and (after several years of operatic work in her home state) at Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. In 1954 she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Wagner’s Die Walküre (as Grimgerde), marking the beginning of a long association with the theatre which would amount to almost 700 performances over the next few decades, including roles in the premieres of two operas by Samuel Barber: Erika in Vanessa (1958) and Charmian in Antony and Cleopatra (a live recording of this performance is included on The Inaugural Season: Extraordinary Met Performances from 1966-7, released in 2016 on the Met’s own label). Other key roles included Laura La Gioconda, Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress, Amneris in Aida, and the title-roles in Carmen and La cenerentola.
Key recordings include ‘a touching Judit’ (BBC Music Magazine) on Eugene Ormandy’s English-language recording of Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle on Sony, Suzuki (opposite Leontyne Price’s Cio-Cio San) on Erich Leinsdorf’s multi-Grammy-winning Madama Butterfly, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Bernstein’s Songfest under the direction of the composer. Elias continued singing well into her 80s, making her Broadway debut in Sondheim’s Folliesin in 2011.