Teresa Stich-Randall (above) sang Donna Anna in DON GIOVANNI in the first performance I ever attended at the Old Met, in 1963. It took place only a few days after the assassination of John F Kennedy, but the plans had been made, the hotel booked, and opera tickets paid for, so my parents decided we should go ahead and make the trip to New York City. On the evening following the DON GIOVANNI, we saw FAUST.
Teresa Stich-Randall was a native of New Hartford, Connecticut. She studied at Columbia University where, in 1947, she created the role of Gertrude Stein in THE MOTHER OF US ALL by Virgil Thomson.
Arturo Toscanini 'discovered' Stich-Randall, calling her "the find of the century". He engaged her for a series of performances with his NBC Symphony Orchestra, including the High Priestess in AIDA and Nannetta in FALSTAFF (1950), both of which remain available commercially. She also sang regularly for him in his last years, as a soprano soloist in many choral works.
She went on to become a beloved star of the Vienna State Opera, where she performed regularly for two decades. In 1963 the Austrian government conferred on Stich-Randall the honorary title of Kammersängerin; she was the first American to be so honored. She was renowned for her Mozart interpretations.
Today, Stich-Randall is perhaps best-known for her participation as Sophie in the classic 1959 recording of DER ROSENKAVALIER conducted by Herbert von Karajan and featuring Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Christa Ludwig.
It was from Stich-Randall's LP on the Westminster label that I became familiar with the great Mozart soprano arias.
There is a brief post-script to my Stich-Randall story. In 1980, she returned to Connecticut to care for her aging mother. One Sunday morning, I read in the Hartford Courant a small notice that Stich-Randall was giving a recital that afternoon at a church in New Hartford. It was impossible for me to get there, but I sent her a letter and was surprised to receive a charming reply from the soprano. After her mother passed away, Stich-Randall returned to Vienna where she died in 2007.