Rita Shane (August 15, 1936 – October 9, 2014) was a dramatic coloratura soprano notable for her performances of grand opera.
She studied at Barnard College and under Beverly Peck Johnson, and made her operatic debut as the Olympia character in Les contes d’Hoffmann, at Chattanooga in 1964. The next year found her appearing with the New York City Opera, as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni.
Her performance in the 1971 “live” recording of Les Huguenots was described as “borderline astonishing”. With the City Opera, Shane went on to sing in Dialogues des Carmélites (as Mme Lidoine), L’amour des trois oranges (as Fata Morgana), Don Giovanni (now as Donna Anna) and Die Zauberflöte (Queen of Night). The soprano debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1973, as the Queen of Night. Over eight seasons, she also sang in La bohème (as Musetta), Un ballo in maschera (as Oscar), Le siège de Corinthe, La traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor, Le prophète (as Berthe, in John Dexter’s production), and Rigoletto.
She returned to the City Opera in 1979, creating the name part in Argento’s Miss Havisham’s Fire, and singing in La traviata, as well. Later, she sang Dircé in Médée (in the Italian version) and Giselda in I lombardi alla prima crociata with that company. For the New Orleans Opera Association, she appeared in La Juive and Les Huguenots. Shane performed in Milan (Teatro alla Scala), Vienna and Munich. At Salzburg, in 1972, she was applauded for her performance in Schönberg’s Erwartung, with Michael Gielen conducting. The soprano has recorded excerpts from Handel’s Athalia and Rinaldo.