Maria Louise Ewing (March 27, 1950 – January 9, 2022) was an American opera singer. In the first half of her career she performed as a lyric mezzo-soprano, but she later assumed full soprano parts. Her signature roles were Blanche, Carmen, Dorabella, Rosina and Salome. She was regarded as one of the most compelling singing actresses of her generation.
|Died||January 9, 2022 (aged 71)|
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
(m. 1982; div. 1990)
|Relatives||Bazabeel Norman (great-great-great grandfather)|
Early life and educationEdit
Maria Louise Ewing was born in Detroit, Michigan, on March 27, 1950. She was the youngest of four daughters of Hermina Maria (Veraar) Ewing, born in the Netherlands, and Norman Ewing, an electrical engineer at a steel company. Her mother, Hermina Maria (née Veraar), was Dutch, and her father, Norman Isaac Ewing, was African-American. Appearing on the television show Finding Your Roots, Ewing's daughter Rebecca Hall discovered that, while Norman had performed as a Sioux Native American figure and was reported as a Sioux chief in newspapers, he had been born to mixed race African-American parents, and had no Native American ancestry; his own father, John William Ewing, had been born into slavery, and became a prominent figure in Washington, D.C.'s black community. Ewing's great-great-great-grandfather was Revolutionary War veteran Bazabeel Norman, a free black man.
Ewing appeared as Maddalena in Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto at a music festival in Michigan while still in her teens, but her professional debut was at the Ravinia Festival in 1973. Her operatic repertoire included Mercédès in Georges Bizet's Carmen (San Francisco Opera, 1973); Sicle in Francesco Cavalli's L'Ormindo (San Francisco Opera, 1974); Dorabella in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Così fan tutte (Santa Fe Opera, 1975; Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1978; Metropolitan Opera, 1982); La Périchole in Jacques Offenbach's La Périchole (San Francisco Opera, 1976; Geneva Opera, 1982 and 1983); Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (Salzburg 1976, 1979 and 1980; Metropolitan Opera, 1976 and 1977); Rosina in Gioachino Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia (Houston Grand Opera, 1976 and 1983; Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1981 and 1982; Metropolitan Opera, 1982); Blanche in Francis Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites (Metropolitan Opera, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1987); Idamante in Mozart's Idomeneo (San Francisco Opera, 1977); Mélisande in Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (La Scala, 1977; San Franciso Opera, 1979); Charlotte in Jules Massenet's Werther (San Francisco Opera, 1978); Angelina in Rossini's La Cenerentola (Houston Grand Opera, 1979; Geneva Opera, 1981); Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni (Geneva Opera, 1980; Metropolitan Opera, 1984); the Composer in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos (Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1981; Metropolitan Opera, 1984 and 1985); Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro (Geneva Opera, 1983; Lyric Opera of Chicago, 1987); Poppea in Claudio Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea (Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1984 and 1986); Carmen in Carmen (Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1985 and 1987; Metropolitan Opera, 1986; Royal Opera House, 1991); Salome in Richard Strauss's Salome (Los Angeles Opera, 1986; Royal Opera House, 1988; Lyric Opera of Chicago, 1988; San Francisco Opera, 1993); Hanna Glawari in Franz Lehár's Die lustige Witwe (Lyric Opera of Chicago, 1986 and 1987); Tosca in Giacomo Puccini's Tosca (Royal Opera House, 1991); Cio-Cio-san in Puccini's Madama Butterfly (Los Angeles Opera, 1991); Dido in Hector Berlioz's Les Troyens (Metropolitan Opera, 1993 and 1994); Katerina Ismailova in Dmitri Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Metropolitan Opera, 1994); Dido in Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas (Hampton Court, 1995); Marie in Alban Berg's Wozzeck (Metropolitan Opera, 1997); Fedora in Umberto Giordano's Fedora (Los Angeles Opera, 1997); and the Queen of the Fairies in Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe (Gielgud Theatre, London, 2008).
Although primarily a theatrical artist, Ewing performed as a concert singer and recitalist too. Among the orchestral works that she sang were Berg's Sieben Frühe Lieder, Berlioz's La damnation de Faust, Mozart's Great Mass in C minor, Maurice Ravel's Shéhérazade and Verdi's Quattro pezzi sacri.
Ewing made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1976 as Cherubino in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. She was particularly well known for her portrayal of Salome. Oscar Wilde's stage directions for the play from which the opera's libretto was adapted specify that, at the end of the Dance of the Seven Veils, Salome lies naked at Herod's feet: Ewing appeared nude at the end of this sequence, in contrast to other singers who have used body stockings.
In 1982, Ewing married the English theatre director Sir Peter Hall; during her marriage she was formally styled Lady Hall. The couple divorced in 1990. Their daughter is the actress Rebecca Hall. In 2003, Ewing lived in Sussex, England. She died of cancer at her residence near Detroit on January 9, 2022, at the age of 71.
- Bizet: Carmen, Covent Garden; d. Nuria Espert, c. Zubin Mehta; Arthaus DVD
- Bizet: Carmen, Earls Court; d. Steven Pimlott, c. Jacques Delacôte; Image Entertainment DVD
- Bizet: Carmen, Glyndebourne; d. Peter Hall, c. Bernard Haitink; Kultur DVD
- Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 4; Concertgebouw Orchestra, c. Bernard Haitink; Arthaus DVD
- Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di Poppea, Glyndebourne; d. Peter Hall, c. Raymond Leppard; Kultur DVD
- Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; d. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, c. Karl Böhm; Deutsche Grammophon DVD
- Mozart: Requiem; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, c. Leonard Bernstein; Deutsche Grammophon DVD
- Purcell: Dido and Aeneas, Hampton Court; d. Peter Maniura, c. Richard Hickox; Kultur DVD
- Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia, Glyndebourne; d. John Cox, c. Sylvain Cambreling; Kultur DVD
- Richard Strauss: Salome, Covent Garden; d. Peter Hall, c. Edward Downes; Pioneer DVD
- Various: Maria Ewing with Kymaera, live at Ronny Scott's; String Jazz Productions DVD
- Berlioz: La damnation de Faust; Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, c. Eliahu Inbal; Brilliant Classics CD
- Debussy: La damoiselle élue; London Symphony Orchestra, c. Claudio Abbado; Deutsche Grammophon CD
- Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, c. Claudio Abbado; Deutsche Grammophon CD
- Mozart: Don Giovanni; London Philharmonic Orchestra, c. Bernard Haitink; EMI Classics CD
- Mozart: Requiem; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, c. Leonard Bernstein; Deutsche Grammophon CD
- Purcell: Dido and Aeneas; Collegium Musicum 90, c. Richard Hickox; Chaconne CD
- Ravel: Shéhérazade; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, c. Simon Rattle; EMI Classics CD
- Richard Rodgers: Rodgers and Hammerstein at the Movies; John Wilson Orchestra, c. John Wilson; EMI Classics CD
- Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk; Orchestre de l'Opéra Bastille, c. Myung-Whun Chung; Deutsche Grammophon CD
- Various: From this moment on; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, c. Neil Richardson; IMP Masters CD
- Various: Simply Maria; BBC CD
- Millington, Barry (January 12, 2022). "Maria Ewing obituary". The Guardian.
- Genzlinger, Neil (January 12, 2022). "Maria Ewing, Dramatically Daring Opera Star, Dies at 71". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
- Anonymous (January 11, 2022). "Maria Ewing obituary". The Times; subscription required.
- Current biography yearbook, Volume 51. H. W. Wilson Co. 1990. pp. 227–230.
- Isenberg, Barbara (November 8, 1992). "MUSIC: No-Risk Opera? Not Even Close: Maria Ewing, one of the most celebrated sopranos in opera, leaps again into the role of Tosca, keeping alive her streak of acclaimed performances while remaining true to herself". Los Angeles Times.
- McLellan, Joseph (November 15, 1990). "Extra-Sensuous Perception; Soprano Maria Ewing, a Steamy 'Salome'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012.
- Marsh, Robert C. (December 18, 1988). "Article: Growth of Maria Ewing continues with 'Salome' // Role of princess proves crowning achievement". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012.
- "Hidden in the Genes". Finding Your Roots. PBS. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
- "68 Cairngorm "Maria Louise Ewing" (Finney Jr. Sr. High School, Detroit)". Ancestry.com. Generations Network. 1968. p. 30. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
- Garrett, Charles Hiroshi, ed. (2013). The Grove Dictionary of American Music. 3 (2d ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-19-531428-1. OCLC 774021205.
- "Maria Ewing". San Francisco Opera archive.
- Huscher, Phillip: The Santa Fe Opera: An American Pioneer; The Santa Fe Opera, 2006; ISBN 9780865345508; p. 144
- "Maria Ewing". Glyndebourne Festival Opera archive.
- "Home". Metropolitan Opera archive.
- "Home". Geneva Opera archive.
- "Maria Ewing". Salzburg Festival archive.
- Giesberg, Robert I., Cunningham, Carl, Rich, Alan and Sanders, Jim: Houston Grand Opera at Fifty; Herring Press, 2005; ISBN 0917001249; pp. 272, 275
- "Maria Ewing". Teatro alla Scala archive.
- Giesberg, Robert I., Cunningham, Carl, Rich, Alan and Sanders, Jim: Houston Grand Opera at Fifty; Herring Press, 2005; ISBN 0917001249; p. 273
- Skrebneski, Victor: Bravi: Lyric Opera of Chicago; Abbeville Press, 1994; ISBN 9781558597716
- "Maria Ewing". Royal Opera House archive.
- Bernheimer, Martin: Music Center stages a dazzling 'Salome'; Los Angeles Times, October 11, 1986
- "Dido and Aeneas, BBC Two, November 4, 1995". BBC Genome Project.
- "Home". Boston Symphony Orchestra archive.
- Jacobs, Arthur (1990). The Penguin Dictionary of Musical Performers. London: Viking. p. 62. ISBN 0-670-80755-9. OCLC 21080776.
- John Rockwell (April 20, 1989). "Review/Opera; Maria Ewing in Strauss's 'Salome' in Los Angeles". New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
- Anthony Holden (February 24, 2008). "Don't go and lose your head..." The Observer. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
- "The Met Opera's Two Weeks Of Black Opera Performances". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
- "Kymaera DVD". www.kymaera.co.uk. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
- Jeal, Erica (March 11, 2003). "I feel I belong". The Guardian. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
- "Opera singer Maria Ewing, wife of Peter Hall, dead at 71". Edwardsville Intelligencer. January 10, 2022. Retrieved January 10, 2022.