DETROIT ( Associated Press) — Maria Ewing, a soprano and mezzo-soprano noted for intense performances who became the wife of director Peter Hall and mother of actor-director Rebecca Hall, has died at the age of 71.
Ewing died Sunday at his home in Detroit, spokeswoman Brianna Rifkin said Monday.
Born in Detroit to a Dutch mother and an African American father, Ewing was the youngest of four daughters.
“She was an extraordinarily talented performer who propelled herself to the rarest heights of international opera in the world,” her family said in a statement.
Ewing made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)” in 1976 and as Blanche de la Force in a new John Dexter production of Pollen’s “Dialogues des Carmelites” in 1977 . He sang 96 Met performances. Until her finale as Mary in Berg’s “Wozek” in 1997, a period that included a six-year interruption due to a dispute with Met artistic director James Levine.
Ewing met Peter Hall in 1978 when he sang the dorabella at the Glyndebourne Festival in Britain staged by Mozart, directed by Hall and led by conductor Bernard Hattink. Ewing married Hall, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and director of Britain’s National Theatre, in 1982.
Four years later, her husband directed her at the Met where she played the title role in a new staging of Bizzart’s “Carmen”.
Associated Press reviewer Mary Campbell wrote, “Far from the usual effort at a fiery sexpot, her Carmen was easily bored, even depressed, her commute was a challenge to men.”
But Ewing broke up with the Met when the company ended a deliberate airing of “Carmen” with him, then aired a 1987 performance of the production starring Agnes Baltsa. Ewing responded by withdrawing from appearances at the Ravinia Festival outside Chicago, where Levine was the music director.
“The weather has no etiquette,” Ewing and Hall told the Chicago Tribune.
Hall directed Ewing in the title role of Strauss’s “Salome” at the LA Opera in 1986, in which she took off her clothes completely naked at the end of the Dance of the Seven Veils. The staging moved to the Royal Opera in London and the Lyric Opera in Chicago in 1988, and a broadcast of the production was released commercially on DVD.
“Maria Ewing, who played the title role in Richard Strauss’ Salome for the new Music Center opera on Thursday night, is a theatrewitch,” Martin Bernheimer wrote in the Los Angeles Times, using a German word for “theater beast”. Happened. “Indeed, she is a prime and wondrous example of a rare breed. She is a sweet, vulnerable, nervous young woman, blessed with a destructive pout, hypnotic eyes and a pathetic mind. She is a soft, slender and ready Also commands the mezzo-soprano which is slightly tapered at the extended top.
Hall also directed Ewing in 1987’s Nose in Chicago.
They divorced in 1990 and Peter Hall passed away in 2017 at the age of 87.
Born in 1982, Rebecca Hall has starred in films such as Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon” and “The Awakening.” His directorial debut ‘Passing’ released last year.
Ewing is also survived by sisters Norma Coletta, Carol Pankratz and Francis Ewing.