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In Memoriam

Linda Monssen

By Jeff Mandelbaum ’91

Linda Monssen was my best friend for 33 years. She was my mentor, molding my voice and my artistry continually—a life’s work, for both of us. She was the most organic person that I ever met, the most authentic, never attempting to fit me into any mold—rather following where my voice wanted to go and gently bringing me there. How amazing that well into her ninth decade in this world, we were charting new territory, discovering greater depth of tone, with our all-powerful “Ah”... Linda was the ultimate student of life and art—constantly delighted by a concert or opera, or performance of Bill T. Jones or Meredith Monk, with whom she did internships during her sabbatical. She was a regular attendee of masterclasses by Marilyn Horne, and more recently Joyce Didonato—waiting outside of Carnegie two hours ahead with the other groupies. Linda was great fun too! Such delight is captured in photos of her during our vocal retreats in Tuscany, exploring mysterious ancient towns, partaking of life-changing cuisine, imbibing Art like a religion. Linda was my child’s Faerie Godmother, and she was the most patient, understanding, liberating friend to him, even chiding me when my rules and needs got in his way. She spent months hand-crafting him a gorgeous quilt, and her hand-cut, hand-sown Green Arrow was the best Halloween costume of all time… Linda was an absolute champion, during the past couple of years, in the face of constant visits to Sloan Kettering. She spent the last couple of months at Calvary hospice in Brooklyn, mostly in excellent spirits. The staff was so impressed by her and her status as a master opera teacher that they brought in a film crew and interviewed her for three hours. Then they filmed a mini-lesson that we did in her hospital room. I am so grateful that her wisdom and her story will be preserved in this way. Linda was a great gift—she gave so much to all of us who knew her and learned from her. She died at the end of March, and the world lost a profound light, which we will never recover. But we are so very lucky to have been blessed by her.

*Linda Monssen passed away on March 25, 2023. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, June 24 at 2:00 PM in the 15th Street Meetinghouse. Friends Seminary is holding Linda’s family and friends in Light.


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