Ella Lee, a pillar of opera in LA

Ella_Lee_inrehSad news this week, reported on the Facebook page for LA Met:  opera singer, teacher, producer and co-founder of Los Angeles Metropolitan Opera died on Monday, September 16.  She was beloved by her students, collaborators and proteges, and her passion for opera impacted and inspired many. Texas-born, the soprano was raised and educated in Los Angeles, and she clearly thought of herself as an Angeleno.  Lee’s career was most active in the 1960s, unusual for an African-American woman at the time, and her first major appearance was in Israel, singing the title role in Verdi’s Aida, a role she performed more than 500 times.  She sang with major houses in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and all over Europe, and has been repeatedly honored for her achievements as a performer and promoter of opera.  For more details about her career, click here.  Here’s a particularly fine video from YouTube that shows the shimmering vitality she was capable of:

Please leave comments and share with us your memories and appreciation of Ella and what she’s given to our community.  She’s left quite a legacy.

Additional resources:

Biography page — Los Angeles Metropolitan Opera website

Performance archive — San Francisco Opera

View a Seattle Opera program from their 1968/69 season

3 thoughts on “Ella Lee, a pillar of opera in LA”

  1. I remember her guest appearance in Portland, Oregon with Robert Nagy and Lili Chookasian in Il Trovatore. It was the best Trovatore I have ever seen (and I have seen many). After a powerful “Tacea la notte,” Ella Lee delivered the cabaletta that followed full-throttle with amazing agility, with her back to the audience as she walked to the door of Aliaferia castle.


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