The versatile American mezzo Risë Stevens was born in New York City on 11 June 1913 to Norwegian Lutheran and Polish/Russian Jewish stock. She studied at Juilliard and with Anna Eugenie Schoen-René, and in Vienna with Marie Gutheil-Schoder and Herbert Graf.
Within three years of her 1939 debut as Mignon in Prague, she had appeared at Teatro Colón, Glyndebourne and Metropolitan Opera. She was The Met's leading mezzo for more than two decades, and also appeared in various Hollywood films. There are many recordings, mostly on RCA.
Stevens lived to be nearly one hundred years old, dying at her home in Manhattan on 20 March 2013.