Patrice Munsel, Opera Singer Who Worked in Theatre, Dies at 91

Obituaries   Patrice Munsel, Opera Singer Who Worked in Theatre, Dies at 91
The Met Soprano took on Broadway roles across the U.S.
Patrice Munsel
Patrice Munsel

Patrice Munsel, an coloratura soprano who performed often at the Metropolitan Opera, and who took on theatre roles later in her career, died on Aug. 4 at her home in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. She was 91.

Ms. Munsel, who was born May 14, 1925, in Spokane, WA, was only 17 when, 1943, she won a audition at the Met through a program called “Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air." She became the youngest singer to make a debut at the opera house.

She went on to perform on the Met stage more than 225 times over a 15-year period. Her credits include Lucia di Lammermoor, La Traviata, Romeo and Juliet, Tales Of Hoffman, Rigoletto, Cosi Fan Tutte, and La Perichole. Her best-known role was Adele in Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus, which she first performed in 1950.

When she tired of the light, comedic roles the Met kept assigning her, she left the company in 1958 and began doing a wider range of operatic parts, as well as taking theatre parts around the U.S. She sang in shows like The Sound of Music, A Little Night Music, Kismet and The King and I. She acted in I Do! I Do! at both the Cape Playhouse in Massachusetts and the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine. At the latter company, she also essayed Mame and The Play’s the Thing.

On Broadway, she was seen in the 1975 musical revue, A Musical Jubilee, directed by Morton Da Costa, and co-starring Lillian Gish, Tammy Grimes, Larry Kert and John Raitt.

She sang on many of the popular talk and variety shows in the 1950s, and, during the 1957-58 season, she had her own television variety show, The Patrice Munsel Show.

Munsel was married advertising and public relations executive Robert Schuler in 1952. He predeceased her in 2007, as did their son Rhett. She is survived by three other children, daughters Heidi Schuler Bright and Nicole Schuler, and son Scott Schuler.

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