I was 16 and sneaked into the backstage area at the old Met. I suddenly found myself in a hallway on the way to the dressing room of the first singer I ever met, Rise Stevens, who had just sung Carmen. To this DAY I can see her smiling face and actually feel the "greasepaint on my hand" I joined her music club and went every year to her home, where we had a beautiful time always.
    I have just returned from a breathtaking memorial tribute to Rise at the Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. I was in the lobby and I perceived someone who might have been Nicky Surovy because I recalled him from a TV show;I had not seen him since he was about 15, and went over to him, my eyes beginning to fill with tears, because of what Rise was and what a life she had enjoyed with her fans, and Nicky was a "connection" to her.
   We spoke briefly and then I entered the sold-out theatre, to witness a truly heartwrenching tribute to Rise, who came close to 100, but passed away a few months ago. The hostess was Federica Von Stade and we had speeches by Rosalind Elias, Harolyn Blackwell,Ann Ziff, and of course Nicholas Surovy.
   The number of film clips, some never before available, was astounding, including a remarkable dance sequence with Ray Bolger, and she KEPT UP with him. There were arias, family photos and just so much that it was something extraordinary to behold. Her whole life passed by us and in many ways she "was there" tonight.
  Elias told a funny tale about how she adored Rise and STOLE Rise's Chesterfield cigarette poster once (They allowed those ads then.). Nicky told many tales of their lives and he was as charming as anyone could be. They showed selections never before seen, like the Jean of Arc aria and other material from various TV shows. This was a "class act" and no one deserved it more than the beloved lady whpo brought opera to so many including yours truly.
    I saw Nicky again at the end of the show, shook his hand, and again felt that same "connection" and left the theatre reflecting on the life of this dear lady, who made my young life so joyous.
     There so many tales and so many clips that I could go on and on but I have given you a fairly good idea of this evening at it will stay with me forever. Bless Rise, the beautiful Rise , who shook this teenager's hand so many years ago.  With all my deepest feelings  Charlie
Category:general -- posted at: 1:40am EST


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