Maria Ewing American soprano 1950 – 2022

Maria Ewing American soprano born 1950 Photo: Christian Steiner
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Maria Louise Ewing (23.3.1950 – 10.1.2022) is an American opera singer who has sung both soprano and mezzo soprano roles. She is noted as much for her acting as her singing.

Maria Ewing American soprano 1950 – 2022

Life and career

Ewing was born in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. the youngest of four daughters. Her mother, Hermina M. (née Veraar), was Dutch, and her father, Norman I. Ewing, was an American of Sioux Native American, Scottish, and African-American ancestry. She studied in Cleveland, Ohio and New York City.

Maria Ewing made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1976 in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Her first European performance was at La Scala, Milan as Mélisande in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. Her repertoire includes Carmen, Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Salome, Marie in Berg’s Wozzeck and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

Ewing is particularly well known for her sensitive interpretation of the title role in Richard Strauss’s Salome, where Oscar Wilde’s stage directions for the original play specify that, at the end of the so-called Dance of the Seven Veils, Salome lies naked at Herod’s feet. Ewing appeared fully nude at the end of this sequence, in contrast to other singers who have used body stockings.  She also sang and appeared in Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.

Ewing’s discography includes video versions of Salome and Carmen and audio versions of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Pelléas et Mélisande. She has also recorded concert music by Ravel, Berlioz and Debussy and programs of popular American song. She played Rosina in a Glyndebourne production of Il barbiere di Siviglia (1982), available on DVD.

Maria Ewing has also sung jazz in live performance, including appearances with the band Kymaera at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London.

In 1982, she married the English theatre director Sir Peter Hall. The marriage ended in 1990; during this period of her life she was formally styled Lady Hall. Their daughter is the actress Rebecca Hall. Ewing makes her home near her birthplace.

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