Patrice Munsel (born Patrice Beverly Munsil; May 14, 1925 – August 4, 2016) was an American coloratura soprano. Nicknamed "Princess Pat", she was the youngest singer ever to star at the Metropolitan Opera.
Munsel in 1962
Patrice Beverly Munsil
May 14, 1925
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
|Died||August 4, 2016 (aged 91)|
Schroon Lake, New York, U.S.
|Known for||Opera, coloratura soprano|
(m. 1952; died 2007)
|Children||2 sons, 2 daughters|
|Parent(s)||Audley J. Munsil|
Eunice A. Munsil
An only child, Patrice Beverly Munsil (she later changed the spelling of her surname) was born and raised until age 15 in Spokane, Washington. Her father, Audley J. Munsil, was a local dentist. She attended Lewis and Clark High School before leaving at age fifteen, accompanied by her mother, to study in New York City, coached by Giacomo Spadoni (1884–1960).
Munsel first sang at the Metropolitan at age 17 in March 1943. She made her official Metropolitan debut on December 4, 1943, aged 18, singing Philine in Mignon, for which won popular praise but poor critical reviews. Her first opera contract was for three years at $40,000 per year; with other appearances she was making around $100,000 annually.
Perhaps best known for the roles of Adele in Die Fledermaus and Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte, Munsel sang 225 times at the Metropolitan Opera. Sir Rudolf Bing called her a "superb soubrette" and implied that she was the world's best. Her opera roles also included Rosina in The Barber of Seville and Gilda in Rigoletto.
Her husband Robert C. Schuler (1917–2007) conceived and produced the ABC-TV primetime variety series The Patrice Munsel Show, which starred his wife, and was broadcast in the 1957–1958 season. Munsel appeared on many other TV shows during her career, including the role of Marietta (Countess d'Altena) in the January 15, 1955 live telecast of the operetta Naughty Marietta. She portrayed the title role in the 1953 film Melba, which chronicled the life of the great opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba.
Munsel made frequent television appearances on The Bell Telephone Hour, and was the central singer in the Camp Fire Girls' famous TV commercial and song "Sing Around the Campfire (Join the Camp Fire Girls)", aired in the mid-1960s. A former Camp Fire Girl herself, she was also a spokeswoman for the organization.
Munsel made her final performance for the Metropolitan Opera on January 28, 1958, in the title role in La Périchole. She appeared on stage as a guest during the 1966 Gala Farewell to the old opera house at Broadway and 39th Street. Munsel ended her career as an opera singer in 1981, and began to perform in musical comedies. She retired from performing in 2008.
In 1952, Munsel married Robert C. Schuler, an advertising and public relations executive, producer, and writer. They were married for 55 years, until his death at age 90 in 2007, and had four children: Heidi (born 1953), Rhett (1955–2005), Scott (born 1958), and Nicole (born 1959). The younger two children were born prematurely. Munsel and Schuler co-wrote a 2005 memoir of Schuler's life entitled The Diva & I. Munsel died on August 4, 2016, at her home in Schroon Lake, New York, aged 91.
- Selections from The King and I, following the official cast album with Gertrude Lawrence, Munsel was the second Anna on record, in a studio recording accompanied by Robert Merrill as the king, and supported by Dinah Shore and Tony Martin as the young lovers. Most of the album was accompanied by Henri René & His Orchestra 1952
- Texaco Star Theater television appearance (September 25, 1951), youtube.com
- Looking back: Patrice Munsel, spokesman.com, January 5, 2008
- Video of January 31, 1958 episode at Internet Archive
- Harrison, Gwen (November 1, 1944). "Pat Munsel was opera star at 17". Miami Daily News. p. 1-B.
- Watrous, Mabel (June 6, 1946). "Home city good to Princess Pat". Spokesman-Review. p. 6.
- "Patrice Munsel, Metropolitan star, tells betrothal to Eugene officer". Eugene Register-Guard. October 28, 1945. p. 15.
- "Patrice Munsel gets welcome". Spokane Daily Chronicle. December 7, 1949. p. 5.
- "Patrice thrilled at prospect of two weeks in home town". Spokane Daily Chronicle. May 27, 1947. p. 8.
- "Patrice and family launch new 'package' production". Spokane Daily Chronicle. July 24, 1953. p. 3.
- Long, Frances (November 13, 1943). "Patrice Munsel has busy times". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. p. 13.
- Parsons, O.J. (May 25, 1968). "More musicals ahead for Patrice Munsel". Spokesman-Review. p. 8.
- The Dictionary of Opera, Charles Osborne, Macdonald & Co., London, UK; ISBN 0-356-09700-5
- Monfried, Walter (March 11, 1945). "At 20 she earns $100,000 a year". Milwaukee Journal. p. 14.
- "Patrice Munsel wins high praise". Spokane Daily Chronicle. April 6, 1943. p. 7.
- "Metropolitan Opera debut of Patrice Munsel tonight". Spokane Daily Chronicle. December 4, 1943. p. 1.
- Shaw, Eleanor (September 24, 1944). "Patrice real American girl". Spokesman-Review. p. 3.
- Patrice Munsel on IMDb
- "Camp Fire Girls "Sing Around The Campfire" Commercial with Patrice Munsel". YouTube.
- "Camp Fire Girls commercial - 1960s". YouTube.
- "Met Performance [CID:176940 La Périchole] Metropolitan Opera House: 01/28/1958". Metropolitan Opera Association Archives. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
- "Gala Farewell – Metropolitan Opera House (Last performance by the Metropolitan Opera in the opera house at Broadway and 39th Street". Metropolitan Opera Association Archives. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
- Kershner, Jim (October 9, 2008). "Following in Munsel's footsteps". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- "Miss Munsel to be bride". Spokane Daily Chronicle. February 4, 1952. p. 10.
- Shaw, Eleanor (April 20, 1952). "Patrice Munsel reals plans for June wedding". Spokesman-Review. p. 4.
- Munsel, Patrice (January 1, 2008). "Deaths: Schuler, Robert Charles". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
- Connor, Harriet J. (June 7, 1967). "Chroniscope: Patrice Munsel stars as mother". Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 17.
- "Happy pair". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press photo. October 27, 1958. p. 14.
- Munsel, Patrice (January 25, 1959). "The miracle that saved my premature baby". Milwaukee Sentinel. (The American Weekly). p. 19.
- "Patrice Munsel has tiny child". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. July 29, 1959. p. 1.