Can you tell me what Rise Stevens, the opera singer, has been doing the past few years?
—James H., Texas
After more than 20 years as one of the Metropolitan Opera's mainstays, the mezzo-soprano retired as a performer in 1961 but continued to serve the company in a number of significant positions. Stevens, 88, was named manager of the brand-new National Touring Co. soon after retiring and later directed the Met's National Council Auditions from 1980-88. Stevens was one of 1990's Kennedy Center Honorees and continues to serve as an active member of the Metropolitan Opera's Association board. Near the start of her career, the Juilliard-trained, New York native turned down a contract from the Met and chose to perform in Europe instead to hone her craft. She returned to accept the offer as World War II threatened and, while there, became perhaps most famous for her performance in the title role of Carmen, which she recorded and performed almost exclusively during the 1950s. Stevens also sang in a number of popular films, including Going My Way with Bing Crosby and The Chocolate Soldier with Nelson Eddy.