Soprano Susanne Fisher (August 25, 1903-February 15, 1990) was born in Sutton. Her rise to fame began when she sang the role of Cio-Cio-San in Madame Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera on December 26, 1935. Fisher was the first West Virginian to sing at the Met.
She earned an artist’s diploma in music at the Cincinnati Conservatory and, on a graduate fellowship, pursued vocal studies at the Juilliard School of Music. She then studied in France and Germany. Beginning in 1931, Fisher sang small parts at the Berlin State Opera, attended many rehearsals, and learned diverse roles. When the breakthrough opportunity came in Madame Butterfly, she knew every note and needed no rehearsals.
Fisher remained in Berlin for three seasons but in the fall of 1934 began a two-year stint in America at the Worcester festival. In 1935 and 1936, in addition to the Met, she sang with the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra. During those summers she was the leading soprano at the Paris Comic Opera. She sang at Franklin Roosevelt’s second inauguration in 1937.
Fisher married concert singer Clifford Menz, with whom she performed in operatic recitals. She died in Panama City, Florida.
Written by Mary Lucille DeBerry
Ewen, David. Living Musicians. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1940.
Sabin, Robert, ed. The International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians. New York: Dodd Mead & Co., 1964.
Obituaries. Opera News, vol. 55, no. 2, 1990.