|ROSE BAMPTON (1944 file/ap)|
WAYNE, Pa. -- Rose Bampton, a soprano who performed 18 seasons at the Metropolitan Opera and established herself as a premier voice in American opera, died Tuesday in Bryn Mawr. She was 99.
Ms. Bampton, who made her professional debut in 1929, appeared several times with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra and sang with such opera immortals as Lauritz Melchior, Helen Traubel, Rosa Ponselle, Jan Peerce, and Ezio Pinza. She recorded with Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, and a broadcast version of their "Fidelio" remains in print.
"I think I lived in the most wonderful period, really, of singing and other things," she had said.
Composer Arnold Schoenberg called her voice a "miracle," and she gained attention for her portrayal of the Wood Dove in his "Gurrelieder." Ms. Bampton also played the role of Kundry in Wagner's "Parsifal" at the Met, where she had made her debut in 1932.
After retiring from the opera stage in 1963, she taught at Juilliard and other schools.
Born in Ohio, Ms. Bampton began her career as a soprano, but later was pushed toward the lower mezzo-soprano range by her teachers after she suffered from laryngitis. She debuted at the Chautauqua Opera in 1929 as a mezzo in the role of Siebel in Gounod's "Faust."
The next year she moved to Philadelphia, where she sang with the Philadelphia Grand Opera and enrolled in the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. Among her classmates were famed composers Gian Carlo Menotti, who died earlier this year, and Samuel Barber, who had Ms. Bampton premiere some of his works.
When she auditioned at the Met, she found her register -- soprano or mezzo-soprano -- again in question. After she sang, members of the panel laughed. "They said, `We're laughing because we don't think that you are a mezzo. We're quite sure that you are going to be a soprano,' " she said.
Her husband, Wilfrid Pelletier, a Metropolitan Opera conductor and the first music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, died in 1982.