RASKIN, JUDITH


RASKIN, JUDITH (1928–1984), U.S. lyric soprano. Born in New York City, she grew up as the only child of teachers Harry A. Raskin and Lillian Mendelson Raskin. She studied both violin and piano as a child, but discovered singing and sang in the glee club of Roosevelt High School in Yonkers. She studied voice with Anna Hamlin and acting with Ludwig Donath at Smith College, graduating in 1949 with a B.A. Smith College also awarded her an honorary M.A. in 1963. She won the Marian Anderson Scholarship in 1952 and 1953, and in 1956 won an award from the Musician's Club of New York. That same year, she sang the title role in The Ballad of Baby Doe, which premiered in Central City, Colorado. Raskin married the psychiatrist Dr. Raymond A. Raskin, a distant relative, in 1948. They had two children.

Raskin sang with the New York Oratorio Society and was soloist with the Symphony of the Air. She joined the New York City Opera Company in 1959, making her debut at City Center as Despina in Cosi fan Tutte. From her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1962 as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Raskin's repertoire ranged over about 20 operatic roles, especially baroque opera. She stayed at the Met 10 years until 1972. She also sang at the Chicago Lyric and other opera houses.

In 1964, Raskin received a Ford Foundation grant for a solo recital where she premiered pieces by Hugo Weisgall and Miriam Gideon. While she enjoyed an active recital life, especially in baroque music, unfortunately the amount of recital work that she would have preferred did not materialize during her mature career years. She took advantage of other opportunities and recorded for numerous record labels. She also turned to teaching, becoming an instructor at Manhattan School of Music, the 92nd Street Y, and at Mannes College. Raskin served on the music panel of the National Endowment of the Arts and as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera auditions. Raskin continued singing until just before her death from ovarian cancer at the age of 56. Her voice was often described as ravishing.

[Judith S. Pinnolis (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.