Janet Pavek, Opera Singer Who Also Played Fanny and Guenevere on Broadway, Dead at 72

Obituaries   Janet Pavek, Opera Singer Who Also Played Fanny and Guenevere on Broadway, Dead at 72
Janet Pavek, an actress and singer who performed major musical theatre and opera roles in New York, London and regionally, died Jan. 6 in New Port Richey, FL, her family announced.
Janet Pavek
Janet Pavek

She was 72, and the cause of death was complications resulting from liver failure.

The Bronxville, NY, native started studying voice at the age of 11. She would go on to sing at the Metropolitan Opera and play choice musical theatre heroines such as Fanny and Guenevere on Broadway and in London.

After being named "Miss Eastchester" in 1953, Ms. Pavek, at the age of 16, was cast in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway musical Me and Juliet.

At the end of the run of the Harold Rome Broadway musical, Fanny, she took over the title role. At 19 she played the part in its long run in London opposite Robert Morley.

In 1961 Ms. Pavek married journeyman musical theatre performer Joe Cusanelli. That same year, she made her operatic debut with the New York City Center Opera Company. By 1962 she took over the role of Queen Guenevere from Julie Andrews in the Lerner and Loewe musical Camelot. Her other Broadway credits include the musicals Christine (also the cast album) and Ankles Aweigh. In the spring of 1963 Ms. Pavek was signed to a contract by the Metropolitan Opera Company and made her debut in Puccini's La Boheme, where she won critical acclaim for her portrayal of Musetta.

Pavek sung leading roles with the Pittsburgh Opera Company, the Fort Worth Opera Company and the Cincinnati and San Francisco Opera companies. Her repertoire included the title role in Manon Lescaut, Liu in Turandot, Nedda in Pagliacci, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, and many other lead soprano roles.

In her youth Ms. Pavek was a recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation Award for musical achievement and the Sullivan Foundation Award for gifted singers. She appeared in concert and recital performances throughout the United States, Europe, Israel and South America. In her later years she taught voice to private students.

She is survived by her son, Joseph Cusanelli, Jr., a New York Police Department Detective and board officer with his union, the Detectives' Endowment Association, her daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Her burial is planned for Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY.

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