OPERA NEWS - Rosemary Kuhlmann, 97, American Mezzo Who Created Amahl's Mother in Menotti's Opera, has Died
From Development server
29 August 2019

Rosemary Kuhlmann, 97, American Mezzo Who Created Amahl's Mother in Menotti's Opera, has Died

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ONE OF THE LAST survivors of the first golden age of opera on television, the mezzo is best remembered for creating the role of Amahl’s Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, first performed by NBC Opera Theatre as a live Hallmark Hall of Fame broadcast on December 24, 1951. The story of a shepherd boy who meets the Three Kings on their way to the birthplace of Jesus, Amahl became a holiday television perennial: Kuhlmann appeared in twelve subsequent NBC broadcasts of Amahl. The 1952 original cast recording, conducted by Thomas Schippers and supervised by Menotti, preserves Kuhlmann’s firm, unsentimental, immaculately articulated performance. Other notable television credits for Kuhlman were the NBC Opera Theatre broadcasts of Menotti’s Saint of Bleeker Street (Desideria, 1955), Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites (Mother Marie, 1957) and Leonard Kastle’s Deseret (Sarah Young, 1961).

Kuhlmann served in the WAVES during World War II and later attended Juilliard on full scholarship through the G. I. Bill.  After graduation from Juilliard, Kuhlmann was a member of the Robert Shaw Chorale before joining the original run of Menotti’s The Consul, first as an understudy and then replacing Gloria Lane in the role of the Secretary. After a short run in the ensemble of a Broadway revival of Kern and Hammerstein’s Music in the Air, Kulhmann was cast in Amahl, which transformed her career. In April 1952, Kuhlmann made her New York City Opera debut in the company premiere of Amahl. Her other roles at New York City Opera in her three years on the roster included Magda Sorel in The Consul, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Carmen, Nicklausse, Meg Page in the company premiere of Falstaff and the Tsarina in the company premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Golden Slippers.


In 1961, when she was still in her thirties, Kuhlmann retired from singing to devote time to raising her family. She later returned to work as an executive assistant at PepsiCo, retiring from that company in 1994. spacer 

Photo credit: Rosemary Kuhlmann and Chet Allen in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. OPERA NEWS Archives

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