Obituary: Soprano Arlene Saunders Dies of Coronavirus

By Logan Martell

American soprano Arlene Saunders has passed away on April 17, 2020 at the age of 89, due to the coronavirus.

Born on October 5, 1930 in Cleveland, Ohio, her professional debut came in 1958, when she played Rosalinde in “Die Fledermaus” with the National Opera Company.

Three years later she made her New York debut as Giorgetta in “Il tabarro” with the New York City Opera. Other roles with the company include Micaëla in “Carmen,” Mimì in “La Bohème,” and Donna Elvira in “Don Giovanni.”

Saunders joined the Hamburg State Opera in 1964, where she would go on to perform a number of roles and make opera films of “Le nozze di Figaro,” “Der Freischütz,” and “Die Meistersinger.” In 1967, she was named a Kammersangerin in Hamburg.

Over the course of her career, Saunders appeared in venues such as the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, San Francisco Opera, Opera Australia, and Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

Among her most prominent roles included Senta in “Der Fliegende Holländer,” Eva in “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” and “La Fanciulla del West.” She also created roles in world premieres of Gian Carlo Menotti’s “Help, Help, the Globolinks!” and Ginastera’s “Beatrix Cenci.”

Her final performance came in 1985 as the Marschallin in “Der Rosenkavalier” at the Teatro Colón.

Saunders left a number of recordings including “Il Re Pastore” with Lucia Popp.

Here is Saunders in excerpts from “La Fanciulla del West” and “Lohengrin.”