Artist Profile: Soprano Teresa Stratas, An Incomparable Singing Actress

By David Salazar

Teresa Stratas, born on May 26, 1938, was a consummate singing actress.

Born in Canada to Greek parents, Stratas was destined for a career defined by brilliant combination of vocal and dramatic skills. Watch any performance of hers on video and you will immediately find yourself immersed in a world she creates all on her own.

At age 20 she made her professional debut as Mimì in “La Bohème,” and then in 1959, at age 21, she won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, becoming one of the youngest winners of all time. From there she would go on to perform at the Met regularly, as well as the Vienna State Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Salzburg Festival, among others.

She would become a major advocate for modern works, creating the role of Sardulla for the US premiere of Menotti’s “The Last Savage” at the Met. She also appeared in the premiere of “The Ghost of Versaille” by John Corigliano.

Her superlative acting abilities landed her roles in many opera films, including “La Traviata,” and “Pagliacci,” both by Franco Zeffirelli.

She would win a Grammy for her interpretation of “Lulu” and another for “La Traviata.” She would also earn Tony Nominations and would become an Officer of the Order of Canada. She also earned four honorary doctorates.

Signature Roles

The soprano was well-known for a wide-range of operas, but her two greatest interpretations are in Strauss’ “Salome” and Berg’s “Lulu.” Her recordings of those particular pieces are legendary. The roles suited her not only vocally, but her acting skills, which were always lauded.

Read More on Stratas

Her relationship with the role of “Lulu”

Watch and Listen

Here is a recording of her “Salome.”

And here you can see her incredible acting abilities in “Pagliacci,” another opera she performed regularly.


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