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Obituary of Vivian Sonya Weede
For many years, music and arts in Oro Valley have been synonymous with Vivian Weede and her late husband, Robert (“Bob”) Weede, Jr. On January 17, 2023, Vivian went home to be with the Lord, passing away peacefully in her home surrounded by a lifetime of wonderful memories. Vivian Weede lived a life of balance and significance. A devoted wife, mother, and talented singer and performer, she also gave back to the community and was an example for everyone.
Born on June 16, 1931, in Swampscott, Massachusetts, Vivian Baule grew up in Brooklyn, New York. From an early age she was a talented stage performer and appeared on Broadway at the age of eight.
During World War II Vivian did French language broadcasts overseas for the Office of War Information. She was later fated to sing operatic roles in French including Marguerite in Faust and Bizet’s Carmen. Prior to her début at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as Violetta, she sang “Sempre libera” as a showgirl at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe in New York.
As Vivian’s operatic talents and interests blossomed, she met Bob while she was studying voice with his father, the Metropolitan Opera singer Robert Weede, Sr., in 1955. Vivian often lovingly told the story of how young Robert swept her off her feet on their first date. The two married in 1956 and spent a year studying opera in Milan, Italy, where their first of three sons, Robert, was born. They returned to New York in 1957 and soon a second son, John, was born.
The family moved west to California and Bob turned his professional focus from opera to business and marketing where he enjoyed a long and successful career. Vivian and Bob welcomed their third son, Tom, in 1964. Vivian devoted herself to her family as mother and wife but also made time for singing almost daily. A son recalls: “Wherever we lived my father had a music room with a sound-proof door so she could sing while he accompanied her on the piano. I can remember walking home from school and hearing her soprano voice soaring from our house three blocks away!”
Vivian and Robert enjoyed performing together in leading roles in the West Bay Opera Company in Northern California, including in La traviata, Madama Butterfly, Die Fledermaus, Carmen and The Gypsy Baron. Vivian sang lead roles in Tosca, La Boheme, and Cavalleria Rusticana. She also sang in operas for the Seattle Opera Company, as Nedda in Pagliacci and Tatiana in Eugene Onegin.
Vivian taught voice for many years and leaves a legacy of accomplished singers and teachers. She had a life-long love of and talent for languages, speaking five: Italian, French, Russian, German and English. She held a strong conviction that to be a true opera singer, one had to understand the meaning and nuance of the words being sung.
One of Vivian’s star students, the world-renowned soprano Lynette Tapia, recalls her emphasizing this — and the importance of knowing and understanding the words sung by the other singers. Ms. Tapia says, “I studied the music and character I was playing SO WELL, that I would not miss a beat and could easily resolve any misstep that might arise. This has happened MANY times during live performances! I am so grateful for the masterful teachings of my beautiful Mrs. Weede. Her wisdom was infinite, and she passed it on to me. Now, as I teach, it is with great pride that I quote her words of wisdom to other aspiring, young singers.”
Vivian also instilled a sense of confidence and conviction in her students, says Ms. Tapia. “Whenever I worry that my voice is not working well, I recall Vivian’s words before I step on stage: ‘La voce e sempre li,’ the voice is always there.” [AW1] After moving to Oro Valley in 1993, Vivian and Bob devoted themselves to growing the love of music and the arts in the community. Vivian served as president of the Opera Guild of Southern Arizona and for years taught “Opera 101” to hundreds of both casual and devoted students of music, in countless events sponsored by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance.
Through the Opera Guild, she held many previews for productions by the Arizona Opera Company. Vivian would prepare for weeks in advance of these lectures, including recruiting of young opera singers from the University of Arizona, who would perform arias interspersed with Vivian’s captivating narration of the opera’s story and the lives of the composers. She welcomed the challenge of public speaking and encouraged others to do it, as she said, “It keeps your mind sharp and helps you stay young!” She served as an example of how we should push ourselves to expand our boundaries.
Vivian had a special place in her heart for children. In 2006 she penned a children’s book, Carl the Cricket Goes to the Symphony, “a mostly true story of Carl the Cricket who always wants to be different, going to hear the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.”
In more recent years Vivian took great joy in spending time with and hearing about her 10 grandchildren, especially Elijah, Amelia and Luke Weede (of Tom and Adrienne Weede) who lived down the street from her in Oro Valley. Even in her last days, Vivian took great pride in being prepared to welcome family and other visitors into her home.
In the opera of life, Vivian and Bob Weede were a magnificent duet and now they are reunited, their voices soaring to new heights, sempre libera[AW2] . Vivian is survived by her three sons, Robert, John and Tom Weede, their wives, and 10 grandchildren.
The community is invited to a memorial service to honor Vivian at Adair Funeral Homes, Avalon Chapel, 8090 N. Northern Ave, Oro Valley, AZ 85704 at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, February 10, 2023.
In lieu of flowers the family requests friends to consider donations to the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance.