Nadine Salonites, a noted opera soprano who was a Woodland kindergarten teacher and volunteer, died Jan. 25 of complications from diabetes and heart problems, her family said. She was 81.
Discovered by a voice teacher in rural Yolo at age 13, Mrs. Salonites went on to acclaim as a professional singer. She studied in London and Munich, sang with symphonies and performed as a soloist with orchestras in Sacramento, Fresno and Redding. She appeared in more than 20 operas including lead roles in "Aida," "The Marriage of Figaro," "Don Giovanni," "Fidelio" and "Norma" and won Bay Area opera awards.
She sang for the First Congregational Church in San Francisco, which broadcast her solo performances during Sunday services on Northern California radio stations. She performed concerts, operas and recitals at the Crocker Art Museum Gallery, Woodland Opera House and other music halls in the United States.
"Nadine Salonites is a soprano with a treasure of a voice," Bee critic John V. Hurst wrote in 1965. "It is full and strong, yet cool and beautifully controlled. It is a clear voice, one with a singular richness, clarity and yes sweetness of tone."
Mrs. Salonites also was known in Yolo County as a teacher. She taught mostly kindergartners during 26 years at schools in Woodland and Esparto and was named 1984 educator of the year in the Woodland Joint Unified School District. She gave private voice lessons and taught extension classes for University of California, Davis.
She was a longtime supporter of efforts to preserve the landmark Woodland Opera House, where she served on the board of directors and gave tours and lectures. She was forewoman of the 1994-95 Yolo County grand jury and belonged to the Yolo County Arts Council and Yolo County Historical Society.
Nadine Elaine Stuhlmuller was born in 1930 in Arbuckle. She was one of two daughters raised by Martha and Robert Stuhlmuller, longtime ranchers in the Zamora and Dunnigan areas of Yolo County.
She graduated from Woodland High School and earned a music degree and teaching credential at College of the Pacific in 1952. She earned a master's degree in music at California State University, Sacramento. She had two children during a 53-year marriage to Carl Salonites and lived in Woodland since 1958.
Although mostly identified with opera, Mrs. Salonites enjoyed singing many types of music, including standards and sacred music. A patriotic woman, she sang at ceremonies honoring U.S. military veterans in Yolo County, Washington and Normandy, France. Her voice remained strong and clear at recent shows, including her popular tributes to Kate Smith and opera singer Ernestine Schumann-Heink.
In 2006, she sang Italian arias to operating room nurses as she prepared to undergo heart surgery at Mercy General Hospital. The following year, she gave a benefit concert for the hospital to thank the staff for her care.
"You get to receive joy for singing for other people," she told The Bee in 1995. "It's a gift. I appreciate it, and I thank God for the talent that was given me."