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“No matter where or how often I traveled the world for
nearly half a century, I have remained a daughter of Wheeling with my spiritual
roots sunk deeply into that unique corner of America.”
So wrote opera singer Eleanor Steber (1916-1990) in her autobiography. In the book, she
lovingly refers to her hometown as “Wheeling West-by-God Virginia.”
Steber sang around the world, most notably at the
Metropolitan Opera in New York. She sang a wide variety of roles in many
different languages, and she particularly recognized for her performances of Mozart
operas and her premieres of music by American composer Samuel Barber, including
debuting the title role in the opera Vanessa.
You can find more about Steber’s career from the Wheeling Library
or this write-up (which includes lots of pictures). You might also be able to track down a copy of her out-of-print autobiography.
Last week, my dad took me to see Elektra by Richard Strauss at the Metropolitan Opera, while
I was in New Jersey visiting my family.
At the Met, I saw Eleanor Steber (well, I saw her picture – I didn’t
meet any ghosts at the opera!)
In their downstairs lobby, the Metropolitan Opera has created
a gallery of pictures of their stars throughout their history. Eleanor Steber is shown in the role of Vanessa.
From the world of classical music, the WV Music Hall of Fame
has inducted George Crumb, Phyllis Curtin, and Larry Combs. My vote for our next nominee in 2010 is
Eleanor Steber singing Mozart -- you can find more of her
singing on YouTube and in recordings .