When she began her career in 1940, Eleanor Steber was as gorgeous a slip of a girl as ever graced the Met stage.
Steber won the Metropolitan Opera "Auditions of the Air" in the spring of 1940. This led to her Met debut on Dec. 7, 1940, as Sophie in "Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss. She remained a leading soprano with the Met until 1963.
She was known especially as a Mozart interpreter, portraying such heroines as the Countess in "Le Nozze di Figaro," Fiordiligi in "Cosi Fan Tutte," Pamina in "Die Zauberflote," Donna Elvira in "Don Giovanni" and Constanze in "The Abduction From the Seraglio" at the opera's Metropolitan premiere in 1946.
Steber appeared throughout the world in recitals and musicals and as a featured soloist on television's "Voice of Firestone." Her weekly radio hour in the 1940s blended classical and pop music.
She made one final appearance at the Met in 1966, replacing Dorothy Kirsten, in Puccini's "Girl of the Golden West."
Steber headed the voice department at the Cleveland Institute of Music from 1963 to 1973, then taught at The Juilliard School. In 1975, she established the Eleanor Steber Music Foundation to help the careers of young singers.