Eleanor Steber

Listen to “Depuis le jour” from Charpentier’s Louise

Eleanor Steber

1914-1990, Wheeling, Ohio County

Wheeling native Eleanor Steber is considered one of the most important U.S. sopranos of the 20th Century. With a rich voice noted for its versatility, the day she sang Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello for a New York Metropolitan Opera matinee is still legendary. But she is most famous for her creation of the title role in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa and for commissioning his Knoxville: Summer of 1915.

After studying at the New England Conservatory of Music, Steber’s operatic debut was in the 1936 WPA production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, when she was 21. In 1940, she won the Metropolitan Auditions of the Air and made her Met debut later that year as Sophie in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. In addition to opera and recitals, she was a frequent guest on The Voice of Firestone television broadcasts. In the ’60s, Steber focused on recitals and concerts.

She and her husband started a record label and she made some Broadway appearances. Steber also gave one of the notorious bathhouse concerts in New York in 1973.

She died in Pennsylvania in 1990.