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Patricia Brooks: A Singular Singer Remembered

Though she was never as well known as her colleague and friend Beverly Sills, critics and opera aficionados hailed lyric soprano Patricia Brooks as a groundbreaking performer — a singer who had trained as a dancer (with Martha Graham's company) and studied as an actor (with the legendary Uta Hagen). She appeared with Jason Robards and Peter Falk in Jose Quintero's legendary Circle in the Square production of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh.

Fresh Air's classical music critic has a listen to a live recording of Brooks' New York recital debut, newly released on CD. It's a rare document from the heyday of a performer who demonstrated a rare mix of talents — and whose opera career was cut short in 1977 by the onset of multiple sclerosis, which inhibited her ability to breathe. Brooks died in 1993, at the age of 59.

Brooks' program on the new disc includes art songs and arias from Bach, Mendelssohn, Mahler, Meyerbeer, Debussy and Wolf. Fresh Air's classical music critic says the recital disc is "lovely," an "unclichéd selection of songs and arias in German, Italian and French, stylishly accompanied" and "a powerful reminder of what a cherishable artist she was."

Copyright 2022 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Lloyd Schwartz is the classical music critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
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