Jean Kraft Elias

Jean Kraft Elias

Jean Kraft Elias, age 94, formerly from Menasha WI passed away on July 15, 2021 at Lillian Booth Actors Fund Home in Englewood NJ of complications from pancreatic cancer.

Jean was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence E. Kraft, former Menasha High School band director. Jean was a leading mezzo soprano with the Metropolitan Opera Co. at Lincoln Center in New York City and on tour. Her career with the Met spanned 20 years beginning in 1970 through 1989. In 1965 Jean debuted at the Santa Fe Opera, beginning an association with that company that lasted through the 1987 season. Other U.S. companies on Jean's resume included New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, New Orleans Opera Association, Tulsa Opera, Seattle Opera and Opera Company of Boston. In Europe, Jean appeared at the Vienna State Opera Association in a performance conducted by Leonard Bernstein. She also sang in eleven Met telecasts and more than seventy-five network radio broadcasts. She was fortunate enough to be able to sing with Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. During her career, Jean also found time to be a Big Sister to two young Navajo ladies in the Santa Fe area.

After retiring from opera in 1990, Jean and her husband, Richard Elias, who was a violinist with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, moved to Santa Fe, NM where she divided her time between family and teaching singing in Santa Fe.

Jean began her career as a pianist for four years when she decided to reorient her path toward a singing career. She studied at Lawrence University Conservatory before she entered the Curtis Institute of Music and later continued her studies in Chicago, Munich and New York City. Later, Lawrence University would award her with an honorary doctorate degree.

Jean was preceded in death by her husband Richard Elias, her parents Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence E. Kraft and her brother Stanley Kraft. Surviving her is her sister, Joan Kraft Rausch of Neenah, WI and brother Dick Kraft (Marge) of Sheridan, WY. Also surviving her are many nieces and nephews as well as her very good friend, James Harder of New York City who was by her side til the end.

Cremation arrangements made with Vander Plaat Memorial Home in Paramus, NJ. No funeral services will be held.

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