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Nadine Conner, former opera star, dies

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (AP) — Nadine Conner, a soprano who performed for nearly two decades at the Metropolitan Opera after singing on national radio and appearing with stars like Bing Crosby, has died. She was 96.

Conner died Saturday at a nursing home in Los Alamitos, a Los Angeles suburb.

Conner debuted at the Met in 1941 as Pamina in Mozart's "The Magic Flute," conducted by Bruno Walter. She performed there 249 times over 18 seasons. She won acclaim not only for her Mozart roles, including Zerlina in "Don Giovanni" and Susanna in "The Marriage of Figaro," but also for her portrayals of Violetta in Verdi's "La Traviata," Mimi in Puccini's "La Boheme," Gilda in Verdi's "Rigoletto," and Rosina in Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," among others.

Reviewing "La Boheme" for The Herald Tribune, composer Virgil Thomson wrote: "Miss Conner did everything right. I think her Mimi is worth, in fact, the whole of yesterday's cast."

Conner began her career singing on national radio from Los Angeles, appeared with such stars as Crosby and Gordon MacRae and toured with film star Nelson Eddy.

She joined a fledgling opera troupe in Los Angeles, founded by Albert Coates in 1939, making her debut as Marguerite in Gounod's "Faust."

Her Met farewell, in 1960, was also in "Faust."