Patrice Munsel

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Patrice Munsel
Patrice Munsel 1962.JPG
Munsel in 1962
Patrice Beverly Munsil

(1925-05-14)May 14, 1925
DiedAugust 4, 2016(2016-08-04) (aged 91)
Known for Opera, coloratura soprano
Robert Schuler
(m. 1952;died 2007)
Children2 sons, 2 daughters
Parent(s)Audley J. Munsil
Eunice A. Munsil

Patrice Munsel (born Patrice Beverly Munsil; May 14, 1925 – August 4, 2016) was an American coloratura soprano. Nicknamed "Princess Pat", she was the youngest singer ever to star at the Metropolitan Opera. [1] [2]

A coloratura soprano is a type of operatic soprano voice that specializes in music that is distinguished by agile runs, leaps and trills.

Metropolitan Opera opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.


Munsel on the cover of Life magazine (February 21, 1944) Patrice-Munsel-LIFE-1944.jpg
Munsel on the cover of Life magazine (February 21, 1944)

Early years

An only child, Patrice Beverly Munsil (she later changed the spelling of her surname) [3] was born and raised until age 15 in Spokane, Washington. Her father, Audley J. Munsil, was a local dentist. [4] [5] [6] She attended Lewis and Clark High School before leaving at age fifteen, accompanied by her mother, to study in New York City, [3] [7] [8] [9] coached by Giacomo Spadoni (1884–1960). [10]

Spokane, Washington City in Washington, United States

Spokane is a city in Spokane County in the state of Washington in the northwestern United States. It is located on the Spokane River west of the Rocky Mountain foothills in eastern Washington, 92 miles (148 km) south of the Canada–US border, 18 miles (30 km) from the Washington–Idaho border, and 228 miles (367 km) east of Seattle along Interstate 90.

Lewis and Clark High School

Lewis and Clark High School is a four-year public secondary school in Spokane, Washington, United States. Opened 107 years ago in 1912, it is located at 521 W. Fourth Ave. in downtown Spokane, bounded by I-90 to the north and Deaconess Medical Center to the west. It replaced South Central High School, destroyed by fire in 1910, and was named for the two leaders of the Corps of Discovery.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


Munsel first sang at the Metropolitan at age 17 in March 1943. [11] She made her official Metropolitan debut on December 4, 1943, aged 18, singing Philine in Mignon , for which won popular praise but poor critical reviews. [12] Her first opera contract was for three years at $40,000 per year; with other appearances she was making around $100,000 annually. [10]

<i>Mignon</i> opera by Ambroise Thomas

Mignon is an opéra comique in three acts by Ambroise Thomas. The original French libretto was by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, based on Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. The Italian version was translated by Giuseppe Zaffira. The opera is mentioned in James Joyce's "The Dead" (Dubliners) and Willa Cather's The Professor's House. Thomas's goddaughter Mignon Nevada was named after the main character.

Perhaps best known for the roles of Adele in Die Fledermaus and Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte , Munsel sang 225 times at the Metropolitan Opera. Sir Rudolf Bing called her a "superb soubrette" and implied that she was the world's best. Her opera roles also included Rosina in The Barber of Seville and Gilda in Rigoletto . [13] [9]

<i>Die Fledermaus</i> comic operetta in three acts by Johann Strauss II

Die Fledermaus is an operetta composed by Johann Strauss II to a German libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée.

Sir Rudolf Bing, KBE was an Austrian-born opera impresario who worked in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, most notably being General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City from 1950 to 1972. He was naturalized as a British subject in 1946 and was knighted in 1971.

A soubrette is a type of operatic soprano voice fach, often cast as a female stock character in opera and theatre. The term arrived in English from Provençal via French, and means "conceited" or "coy". A soubrette is also defined as a young woman regarded as flirtatious or frivolous.

Her husband Robert C. Schuler (1917–2007) conceived and produced the ABC-TV primetime variety series The Patrice Munsel Show , which starred his wife, and was broadcast in the 1957–1958 season. Munsel appeared on many other TV shows during her career, including the role of Marietta (Countess d'Altena) in the January 15, 1955 live telecast of the operetta Naughty Marietta . She portrayed the title role in the 1953 film Melba , which chronicled the life of the great opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba. Munsel made frequent television appearances on The Bell Telephone Hour , and was the central singer in the Camp Fire Girls' famous TV commercial and song "Sing Around the camp fire (join the Camp Fire Girls)", aired in the mid-1960s. [14]

Robert Charles Schuler was an American advertising and public-relations executive, television producer and writer. He is best known for creating and producing the ABC-TV primetime variety series The Patrice Munsel Show. Schuler was married to Munsel for more than five decades.

Naughty Marietta is an American television version of the operetta Naughty Marietta. The music for the operetta was composed by Victor Herbert. The book and the lyrics were written by Rida Johnson Young.

<i>Naughty Marietta</i> (operetta) comic opera in two acts

Naughty Marietta is an operetta in two acts, with libretto by Rida Johnson Young and music by Victor Herbert. Set in New Orleans in 1780, it tells how Captain Richard Warrington is commissioned to unmask and capture a notorious French pirate calling himself "Bras Piqué" – and how he is helped and hindered by a high-spirited runaway, Contessa Marietta. The score includes many well-known songs, including "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life".

Munsel made her final performance for the Metropolitan Opera on January 28, 1958, in the title role in La Périchole . [15] She appeared on stage as a guest during the 1966 Gala Farewell to the old opera house at Broadway and 39th Street. [16] Munsel ended her career as an opera singer in 1981, and began to perform in musical comedies. She retired from performing in 2008. [17]

<i>La Périchole</i> opera by Jacques Offenbach

La Périchole is an opéra bouffe in three acts by Jacques Offenbach. Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy wrote the French-language libretto based on the 1829 one act play Le carrosse du Saint-Sacrement by Prosper Mérimée, which was revived on 13 March 1850 at the Théâtre-Français. Offenbach was probably aware of this production, as he conducted the orchestra of the Comédie-Française from around this time. Another theatrical creation that pre-dates Offenbach's opéra bouffe and may have influenced the piece is a farce by Desforges and Théaulon given on 21 October 1835 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal.

Personal Life

In 1952, Munsel married Robert C. Schuler, an advertising and public relations executive, producer, and writer. [18] [19] They were married for 55 years, until his death at age 90 in 2007, [20] and had four children: Heidi (born 1953), Rhett (1955–2005), [20] Scott (born 1958), and Nicole (born 1959). [8] [21] The younger two children were born prematurely. [22] [23] [24] Munsel and Schuler co-wrote a 2005 memoir of Schuler's life entitled The Diva & I. Munsel died on August 4, 2016, at her home in Schroon Lake, New York, aged 91. [25]

Selected discography


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  1. Harrison, Gwen (November 1, 1944). "Pat Munsel was opera star at 17". Miami Daily News. p. 1-B.
  2. Watrous, Mabel (June 6, 1946). "Home city good to Princess Pat". Spokesman-Review. p. 6.
  3. 1 2 "Patrice Munsel, Metropolitan star, tells betrothal to Eugene officer". Eugene Register-Guard. October 28, 1945. p. 15.
  4. "Patrice Munsel gets welcome". Spokane Daily Chronicle. December 7, 1949. p. 5.
  5. "Patrice thrilled at prospect of two weeks in home town". Spokane Daily Chronicle. May 27, 1947. p. 8.
  6. "Patrice and family launch new 'package' production". Spokane Daily Chronicle. July 24, 1953. p. 3.
  7. Long, Frances (November 13, 1943). "Patrice Munsel has busy times". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. p. 13.
  8. 1 2 Parsons, O.J. (May 25, 1968). "More musicals ahead for Patrice Munsel". Spokesman-Review. p. 8.
  9. 1 2 The Dictionary of Opera, Charles Osborne, Macdonald & Co., London, UK; ISBN   0-356-09700-5
  10. 1 2 Monfried, Walter (March 11, 1945). "At 20 she earns $100,000 a year". Milwaukee Journal. p. 14.
  11. "Patrice Munsel wins high praise". Spokane Daily Chronicle. April 6, 1943. p. 7.
  12. "Metropolitan Opera debut of Patrice Munsel tonight". Spokane Daily Chronicle. December 4, 1943. p. 1.
  13. Shaw, Eleanor (September 24, 1944). "Patrice real American girl". Spokesman-Review. p. 3.
  14. Patrice Munsel on IMDb
  15. "Met Performance [CID:176940 La Périchole] Metropolitan Opera House: 01/28/1958". Metropolitan Opera Association Archives. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  16. "Gala Farewell – Metropolitan Opera House (Last performance by the Metropolitan Opera in the opera house at Broadway and 39th Street". Metropolitan Opera Association Archives. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  17. Kershner, Jim (October 9, 2008). "Following in Munsel's footsteps". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  18. "Miss Munsel to be bride". Spokane Daily Chronicle. February 4, 1952. p. 10.
  19. Shaw, Eleanor (April 20, 1952). "Patrice Munsel reals plans for June wedding". Spokesman-Review. p. 4.
  20. 1 2 Munsel, Patrice (January 1, 2008). "Deaths: Schuler, Robert Charles". The New York Times . Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  21. Connor, Harriet J. (June 7, 1967). "Chroniscope: Patrice Munsel stars as mother". Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 17.
  22. "Happy pair". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press photo. October 27, 1958. p. 14.
  23. Munsel, Patrice (January 25, 1959). "The miracle that saved my premature baby". Milwaukee Sentinel. (The American Weekly). p. 19.
  24. "Patrice Munsel has tiny child". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. July 29, 1959. p. 1.