Opera singer Rosalind Elias, who made Broadway debut at 81, dead at 90

Rosalind Elias, a mezzo-soprano who at 24 began a 42-year association with the Metropolitan Opera but didn’t make her Broadway debut until she’d turned 81, died Sunday, May 3, in New York. She was 90.

Her death was reported by the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Opera News. No cause was given.

Elias, though long known to opera devotees, was a newcomer to many in the Broadway audience when she played Heidi in the 2011 Kennedy Center production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” (the limited engagement revival premiered at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center prior to it transfer to Broadway’s Marquis Theatre). Directed by Eric Schaeffer, the “Follies” revival featured a star-filled cast including, among others, Danny Burstein, Jan Maxwell, Elaine Paige, Bernadette Peters, Jayne Houdyshell, Mary Beth Peil and Kirsten Scott. (The show’s ensemble included Amanda Kloots, who recently has been updating Instagram followers on the condition of husband Nick Cordero, a Broadway actor suffering from COVID-19).

Even among such Broadway veterans, Elias received considerable public and press attention for her performance as Heidi Schiller, a Broadway legend who performs “Follies”‘ “One More Kiss” (the young version of the character was played in the revival by Leah Horowitz).

Rosalind Elias sings during a 2013 performance of Umberto Giordano's "Andrea Chenier" with the Opera Orchestra of New York.
Rosalind Elias sings during a 2013 performance of Umberto Giordano’s “Andrea Chenier” with the Opera Orchestra of New York.Getty Images

In a 2011 interview with Playbill, Elias said she identified with Heidi “because I am of the age of ‘Never look back’…It’s not an easy thing to do, because I keep looking back, but I try not to. When I do look back, I’m not bitter. I’m happy because I’ve had a blessed path.”

Elias sang 687 performances with New York’s Metropolitan Opera and on tour from 1954 to 1996, spanning 35 Met seasons. Occasional forays into musical theatre included the Follies revival, a 1984 New York City Opera staging of “Sweeney Todd,” and a 2008 Hawaii production of “A Little Night Music.”

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