Christine Johnson Smith, who originated the role of Nettie Fowler in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel” when it opened on Broadway in 1945, died June 9 in Owensboro, Ky. She was 98.
Smith made her debut with the Met in 1943 in “Das Rheingold,” by Wagner, before taking the role in “Carousel,” in which she sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
She studied at the Nashville Conservatory of Music before moving to New York in 1937. In 1943, Smith, a mezzo-soprano who also sang contralto roles, won a Metropolitan Opera contract and $1,000 when she tied for first place in the eighth annual Metropolitan Auditions of the Air. The other first place winner was Patrice Munsel, who went on to a career in opera, television and musical theater.
After “Carousel,” she married a surgeon and returned to Kentucky to raise a family.
She is survived by two daughters.