Mezzo soprano Stephanie Blythe is the daughter of a jazz musician and his wife, a German translator. Blythe was raised in Mongaup Valley in upstate New York, and studied voice at the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY, with Patricia Misslin. Upon graduating in 1993, Blythe won an audition with the Metropolitan Opera's National Council. As a result Blythe participated in the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and worked as an understudy, making her Met debut as the offstage "voice" in a production of Wagner's Parsifal. This earned Blythe her first turn in the role of Mistress Quickly in Verdi's opera Falstaff, a part she has performed many times since. Blythe made her New York debut as recitalist at the annual Judith Raskin Memorial Recital of November 1994.
In the next several years Blythe continued to collect honors and began to tour internationally with the Metropolitan Opera Company. Blythe made her Lincoln Center debut in 1998 in a recital with pianist Warren Jones, and in 1999 was given the Richard Tucker Music Foundation Award. While appearing with the Paris Opera that summer in Falstaff, Blythe met her future husband, a former professional wrestler turned actor David Smith-Larsen, then cast in the role of the innkeeper in the same production. Blythe embraces a wide range of literature and has sung the music of Pauline Viardot-Garçia in addition to expected operatic turns such as in Carmen and in Wagner's Ring Cycle. But Blythe is as easily at home in both light French opera and heavier Germanic roles. In 2000 she signed a recording deal with Virgin Classics at a time when hardly any new talent was being scouted in the classical music industry.
Blythe has gathered an enthusiastic legion of fans from around the world. To cite just one example among many rave reviews written on Blythe, Seattle Post-Intelligencer music critic R.M. Campbell has stated: "Blythe's singing is supple and seductive, rich in color and nuance. The quietest of pianissimos are at her disposal, and she uses them, with great effect. She also has sheer power at her disposal. It is the rare singer who can play a part as fully in the voice as Blythe."