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Biography: Eleanor Steber

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▼ Eleanor Steber Quick Links

 ▼ Biography  |  ▼ Hear Ms. Steber Sing   |  ▼ Photos   |   ▼ Library Resources

Opera Singer with the Metropolitan Opera in New York

July 17, 1914 - October 3, 1990

Eleanor Steber, Opera Singer

When Eleanor Steber sang for the 1940 Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air, a star was born.

Her triumph in the auditions launched a glorious career in Grand Opera. She became one of the first totally American-trained singers to become a headliner at The Met.

The Wheeling soprano made her Metropolitan debut as Sophie in "Der Rosenkavalier" and went on to sing more than 50 leading roles at the world famous opera company in New York. In fact, she holds the honor of having sung more premieres at The Metropolitan than anyone else.

Before her rise to stardom, The Metropolitan had never mounted such operas as "The Abduction from the Seraglio", "Arabella", "Vanessa", and "Wozzeck".

Miss Steber enjoyed a wide international following, in addition to having a multitude of American fans. She made cultural tours in behalf of the U.S. State Department and appeared in 15 Asian countries and has been heard in Europe at such music centers as Bayreuth, Edinburg, Salzburg, Vienna, Belgrade, and Brussels.Under the labels of RCA, Columbia, and Odyssey, she has made numerous recordings, which have been widely acclaimed.

Born in Wheeling on July 17, 1914, Eleanor studied piano as a child in Wheeling and also studied voice with her mother, Mrs. William Steber. After graduation from Warwood High School, she attended and was graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She studied under the tutelage of the late William L. Whitney.

For 10 years, Miss Steber starred on "The Voice of Firestone" radio and television shows. She was a soloist for the program's first telecast. She was a frequent guest on television shows.

Among her accomplishments was the singing of three such diverse operas as "La Traviata", "Lohengrin", and "The Girl of the Golden West" on three consecutive nights. She made front-page news when she sang Desdemona in "Othello" and Fiordiligi in "Cosi Fan Tutte" in one day at The Met.

In 1980, the year she celebrated the 40th anniversary of her Metropolitan debut, Miss Steber was inducted into the Wheeling Hall of Fame. Miss Steber has also been honored with election to the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and honorary degrees from West Virginia University, Bethany College, Florida Southern, Ithaca, Temple, and the New England Conservatory of Music. She taught at the Juilliard School of Music at Lincoln Center and held classes at her Ansonia Hotel apartment in Manhattan and at her estate on Long Island.

The Eleanor Steber Music Foundation has been established to provide financial assistance to young singers.

Miss Steber passed away October 3, 1990, in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. She is buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Wheeling. 

 Remember When: Eleanor Steber (Wheeling News-Register)

Listen Ms. Steber Sing

Puccini: Madama Butterfly, 'Un bel di vedremo'
Voice of Firestone: Eleanor Steber

Photographs of Miss Steber

Selected photographs from the Steber/Front Collection of the OCPL Archives
(Click on images to enlarge)

An early publicity photo of Eleanor Steber in her second year with the Metropolitan Opera, 1942.
Eleanor Steber Publicity Shot for Columbia Records
Eleanor Steber as Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte.
Eleanor Steber as Massenet's Manon in her Act 2 costume,
A portrait of Eleanor Steber taken by Wheeling photographer George Kossuth. Signed to Mrs. [Rosemary] Front, long time friend of Miss Steber.
To Rosemary, Seasons Greetings 1968, Eleanor Steber

Related resources in our library

LOCATION: ▼ Regular Stacks (circulating) ▼
Book Eleanor Steber: An Autobiography with Marcia Sloat (Steber, Eleanor, 1992)
CALL NUMBER:  782.10924 ST31AE
Book Legendary Locals (Duffy, Sean; Carney, Brent, 2013)
CALL NUMBER:  975.414 Duff 2013
CD/DVD Eleanor Steber, her first recordings [1940] (1993)
CALL NUMBER:  CD Classical St31e
CD/DVD Eleanor Steber sings Richard Strauss (1992)
CALL NUMBER:  CD Classical St82e
CD/DVD Eleanor Steber sings Mozart (1993)
CALL NUMBER:  CD Classical M877e
CD/DVD The Eleanor Steber collection, Vol. 1: The early career, 1938-1951 (1989)
CALL NUMBER:  CD Classical M877e
CD/DVD Vanessa/Barber [libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti] (1989)
CALL NUMBER:  CD Classical B233v
CD/DVD Madama Butterfly [ by Giacomo Puccini] (1998)
CALL NUMBER:  CD Classical P961m
LOCATION: ▼ Wheeling Room (non-circulating - public access) ▼
Book He Loves Me When I Sing: Remembering Eleanor Steber (Buffington, Judith, 1993)
CALL NUMBER:  Wheeling 782.10924 ST31BH
Book A Primative-Donna: A Survey of the Operatic Career of Eleanor Steber (Black, Cassandra Aaron, 2008)
CALL NUMBER:  Wheeling 782.1 St31Bp
LOCATION: ▼ Archives (non-circulating - access by appointment only) ▼
PDF Icon The Eleanor Steber/Rosemary Front Collection - View Finding Aid
CALL NUMBER:  Archives 2010-030 (Boxes 1-4)

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