April 13th, 2024

30 years after firing, a soprano returns to the Met Opera for a recital

By The Associated Press on March 18, 2024.

FILE - Opera star Kathleen Battle performs during the grand opening gala celebration for the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 19, 2005. Battle, 75, is returning to the Metropolitan Opera for a recital on May 12. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke, File)

NEW YORK (AP) – Soprano Kathleen Battle is returning to the Metropolitan Opera for a recital three decades after the company fired her and publicly accused her of “unprofessional actions.”

The 75-year-old is scheduled to perform on May 12 in only her second appearance there since the 1994 firing.

Battle will be accompanied by harpist Bridget Kibbey and guitarist Chico Pinheiro in a program of Purcell, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Fauré, Villa-Lobos, Rodrigo and selected spirituals.

In 1977, Battle made her debut at the Met and became a favorite of music director James Levine. Years later, she walked off the stage during rehearsals in 1993 after battling with conductor Christian Thielemann over tempo and canceled five scheduled performances as Sophie in Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier.”

Joseph Volpe, then the Met’s general manager, announced in February 1994 that the company had terminated her contract for Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment (The Daughter of the Regiment),” saying the performer’s actions “were profoundly detrimental to the artistic collaboration among all the cast members.”

Volpe’s successor, Peter Gelb, invited Battle to give a November 2016 recital titled “Underground Railroad-A Spiritual Journey.”

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