Lee Venora De Simone is a retired opera singer and actress who enjoyed more than 20 years of success on international stages. An acclaimed soprano, Ms. De Simone was an in-demand performer in classical music and Broadway productions throughout her career. She began singing as a child and quickly recognized her talent, performing in choirs and madrigals before moving on to roles in small productions. In recognition of her talent and pre-professional potential, she was awarded a scholarship to study at The Hartt School at the University of Hartford, a prestigious music academy.
Ms. De Simone made her professional operatic debut in 1955. Over the course of her career, she would be a member of numerous world-class companies in leading roles and iconic soprano parts. In 1958, Ms. De Simone made her debut with the New York City Opera in a performance of “The Deaf Ear,” and she would return for many seasons over the course of her operatic career. Ms. De Simone continued to build notoriety for her roles.
From the beginning of her musical career, Ms. De Simone was recognized for the clarity, color, and strength of her voice, and she gained many high-profile fans among critics and composers. One notable fan was composer Leonard Bernstein, who directed her through much of the 1959 and 1960 seasons as a member of the New York Philharmonic, including in performances of his television show “Omnibus.” During this era of her career, Ms. De Simone also gained recognition and praise from composer Benjamin Britten after a performance in his “The Rape of Lucretia” and was cast in the world premiere of contemporary composer Robert Ward’s “He Who Gets Slapped” with the New York City Opera.
In 1959, Ms. De Simone made her debut on Broadway, and the following year, she was cast to perform solo works at the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. She began to diversify during this time, accepting roles in productions with companies throughout the United States and the world, including the Cincinnati Opera and the American Opera Society, and appeared in official cast recordings of several new productions. By the mid-1960s, Ms. De Simone was recognized globally as a performer at the top of her career, and she continued to perform in a diverse range of works, from new and contemporary operas to revivals of Broadway musicals and recorded pieces. Before her retirement from professional performance in 1978, Ms. De Simone had also performed with the Berlin Opera and had reprised roles from earlier in her career with the San Diego Opera and Los Angeles Civic Light.
Ms. De Simone credits her professional success to her dedication to her craft, passion for music, and commitment to constant improvement. She emphasizes that despite her strong natural talent, she owes her musical development to her hard work and to the support of teachers, mentors, and other performers throughout her career. In her retirement, Ms. De Simone is an avid bridge and board game player. She has been a Life master since 1976 and has played in three annual tournaments for numerous years. Ms. De Simone continues to perfect her bridge game as a member of a San Luis Obispo-based bridge club and continues to play competitively on a regional level.