Obituaries

Metropolitan Opera Guild chairman emeritus Thomas J. Hubbard; soprano Roberta Knie; tenor Philip Creech.

Obituaries Philip Creech lg 617
Creech as Pedrillo at the Met, 1984
© Beth Bergman

THOMAS J. HUBBARD
SHARON, CT, NOVEMBER 20, 1924—DELRAY BEACH, FL, MARCH 20, 2017  

AN EXTRAORDINARILY GENEROUS and perceptive advocate for the arts, Hubbard was a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School and a partner in the New York law firm of Decker, Hubbard, Welden & Sweeney. Hubbard joined the board of the Metropolitan Opera Guild in 1974 and after serving with distinction as vice president and treasurer (1978–85) was named chairman of the board in 1986. He remained in that capacity for sixteen years, longer than any other chairman in the Guild’s history, until he was named honorary chairman of the Guild board, in 2002. In 2011, when he joined the Guild’s emeritus council, Hubbard was named chairman emeritus, a title he held until his death. Hubbard was also an advisory member of the board of the Metropolitan Opera for more than thirty-eight years, beginning in 1979. 

Hubbard was an important figure in the history of the New York Botanical Garden. He joined the board of the Botanical Garden in 1975 and was named to that organization’s executive committee in 1977. He began a nine-year tenure as chairman in 1991; during Hubbard’s chairmanship, the New York Botanical Garden enjoyed a spectacular renaissance, becoming one of the most important horticultural landscapes and research centers in the world. He was named chairman emeritus in 2000 but remained active in the affairs of the Garden until his death. Hubbard and his wife, Anne, who survives him, provided leadership and generous support for a number of other non-profit institutions, including the Preservation League of New York State and the Peconic Land Trust.

Tom Hubbard was an ideal board member: intelligent, energetic, loyal and committed, he was a masterful negotiator and splendid committee chair, capable of public advocacy and private discretion in equal measure. He was a true gentleman, respectful and kind to everyone, without exception.  —F. Paul Driscoll 

ROBERTA KNIE
CORDELL, OK, MARCH 13, 1938—PHILADELPHIA, PA, MARCH 16, 2017 

EDUCATION AT THE University of Oklahoma and at London’s Royal Academy of Music, Knie made her professional debut in 1964, as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser at the Hagen Theatre in North Rhine-Westphalia. She spent the next decade developing her craft and expanding her repertoire through her work at Stadttheater Freiburg, Graz Opera, Cologne Opera, Zurich Opera and Vienna State Opera. In 1974, her Brünnhilde at Bayreuth attracted career-changing  attention: tall and handsome, with a natural warmth to her sound, Knie was praised for her imposing, confident presence and authoritative singing and soon had contractual commitments in Europe, North and South America extending a decade into the future. But ill health interrupted the progress of her career when she was still in her forties; when she was diagnosed with a detaching retina, Knie stopped singing in order to retain her sight and began a second career as a teacher and coach. She settled in Philadelphia in 1996 and had a long association with Temple University as artist in residence.

Knie made her house debuts at Dallas Opera (1975), Opéra de Québec (1975), Covent Garden (1978) and Lyric Opera of Chicago (1979) as Isolde to the Tristan of Jon Vickers; she was Brünnhilde to his Siegmund for her San Francisco Opera debut in 1976. Knie’s Met career was brief: she sang just three performances as Chrysothemis (1976) and a single Isolde (1980)with the company in New York.

PHILIP CREECH
HEMPSTEAD, NY, JUNE 1, 1950—NEW YORK, NY, FEBRUARY 17, 2017   

A FAMILIAR PRESENCE on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for eighteen seasons, the tenor made his company debut as Beppe in Pagliacci in 1979. Creech sang a total of 264 performances with the Met in New York and on tour, including twenty-six radio broadcasts and five Live from the Met telecasts, among them Il Trittico (Rinuccio, 1981) and Les Troyens (Hylas, 1983). He was featured in new Met productions of Manon Lescaut (Edmondo, 1980), Le Rossignol (Voice of the Fisherman, 1981)and Salome (Jew, 1989), as well as the company premieres of Death in Venice (Gondolier, 1974) and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Teacher, 1994). Creech’s most frequent roles at the Met were Beppe, Edmondo, Jew in Salome, Pong in Turandot and Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. spacer 



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