Mary Simmons. Soprano, b Philadelphia 29 Jul 1928. She studied violin in Philadelphia with Louis Angeloty for 10 years and voice in New York with Therese Schnabel, receiving the Marian Anderson Scholarship in 1945 and 1946. She first sang in Canada in 1946 with the TSO and returned in 1947 to appear with the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir and the TSO under Emil Gartner. Recitals for the CBC and its international service followed, and in 1953 she was engaged for the title role in the CBC Opera Company broadcast of Turandot. In 1954 she made her concert debut in New York and her stage debut (as Magda in The Consul) in Cleveland. Visiting Canada again for a performance in 1955 with the TSO, she met the Toronto businessman Jack Bernstein, subsequently married him, and took up residence in Toronto.
Highly regarded as a Lieder singer, particularly for her integral presentations (1968, 1977) of Schubert's Die Winterreise, Simmons has appeared mainly in recital, as a soloist with orchestra, and on CBC radio ('Distinguished Artists,' etc). She sang in Sir Ernest MacMillan's final concert with the TSO in 1956, a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Her relatively few opera roles in Canada have included a prformance as Turandot in 1953, and as Cressida in Walton's Troilus and Cressida, in 1957 with the CBC Opera, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana in 1961 and Sieglinde in Die Walküre in 1962 with the COC, and Donna Elvira with the Opera Guild of Montreal in 1964. She sang with the TSO in the Canadian premiere (1957) of excerpts from Berg's Wozzeck, with the CBC Symphony Orchestra in the premiere (24 Mar 1958) of Weinzweig'sWine of Peace, with the TSO and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir under Heinz Unger in the Toronto premiere (York Concert Society, 1964) of Mahler's Symphony No. 3, and with the TSO in the first Canadian performance (1966) of one movement from Bernstein's Jeremiah Symphony. She may be heard on the recordings of Stravinsky's Pulcinella with the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by the composer (1953, Col ML 4830), in Wine of Peace (RCI 182/5-ACM 1), and in Stravinsky's Mavra and Le Faune et la bergère with the CBC SO (Col MS-6991/22-Sony SX22K-46290 CD). Of her 1977 performance of Die Winterreise, John Kraglund wrote that there were numerous highlights, including 'an intensely moving performance of ''Der Lindenbaum,'' sung with folklike simplicity and without sentimentality,' adding that '"Irrlicht," with its leisurely pace and careful shaping of phrases, was another example, not only of Miss Simmons' artistry, but of the art of Lieder singing' (Toronto Globe and Mail, 4 Aug 1977).