A Great Day: This Sunday-soprano Kathleen Battle returns to The Metropolitan Opera in a Recital of Spirituals.

A Musical Balm in Gilead:  The legendary soprano Kathleen Battle returns to The Metropolitan Opera, Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 4 p.m in a sold-out recital of spirituals with pianist Joel A. Martin, choir and special guests.

by Patrick D. McCoy

kathleenbattleheadshot

Soprano Kathleen Battle makes a long awaited return to The Metropolitan Opera in a sold-out recital of spirituals on Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 4 p.m. (Photo Credit:  The Afro-American Newspaper)

There is an old saying that proclaims that “time heals all wounds.”    That adage will be put to the most glorious test on this Sunday afternoon as the legendary soprano Kathleen Battle returns to the stage of The Metropolitan Opera after her 22 year absence from that stage.  The evening could easily just be about her ‘wound’, but with the painful upheaval and uncertainty that our nation is experiencing-her recital choice of spirituals could have not come at a more appropriate time.

Kathleen Battle has a gift for breathing life in the spiritual in such a way that it continues to resonate in the hearts and minds of the listener.  “Spirituals have the power to uplift and to heal, and we certainly need that in today’s world…This is a program which brings together my musical background and my cultural heritage, in the acoustical splendor of the Met” Ms. Battle said in a statement in an article in The New York Times recently surrounding her return.

Her program “Underground Railroad” received some of its earliest performances at The Music Center at Strathmore with The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and has continued similarly at prestigious concert halls across the United States and Canada, most recently at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto with the R. Nathaniel Dett Chorale.  Of her 2013 presentation of “Underground Railroad” with The Heritage Signature Chorale and pianist Cyrus Chestnut at The Music Center at Strathmore, Washington Life Magazine noted “The program not only showcased Battle’s gifts as a soloist, but also highlighted her scholastic abilities as a curator.”

For her sold-out recital of spirituals, Ms. Battle will be joined by pianist Joel A. Martin, choir and special guests in this program recreated on the stage of The Metropolitan Opera. Debuting at The Metropolitan Opera in 1977 as the Shepherd in Wagner’s Tannhäuser , soprano Kathleen Battle sang 224 performances of 14 roles with the company.  Acclaimed performances included numerous roles by Mozart— Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Susanna in

kathleen battle performing

Soprano Kathleen Battle as Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare.

Le Nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Despina in Così fan tutte—and Richard Strauss— Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Zdenka in Arabella—as well as Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Elvira in his L’Italiana in Algeri, Adina in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, Cleopatra in the first-ever Met performances of Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Sophie in Massenet’s Werther and

Handel’s Giulio Cesare.

A sought after recitalist, Ms. Battle has also performed at the world’s major opera houses and concert halls, including a celebrated 1990 concert of spirituals with fellow soprano Jessye Norman at Carnegie Hall. She has also appeared in solo recital at the opera houses of London’s Covent Garden, La Scala (Milan, Italy), Sydney Opera House (Australia) and Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires).   Ms. Battle most recently sang recitals in NYC’s Carnegie Hall in 2008 with pianist Ted Taylor, 2009 with pianist Joseph Joubert and 2010 with Olga Kern.

It is indeed a historic return for Ms. Battle’s return and so timely.  Though there was much discussion about the recital being  of all spirituals, there probably could not be a better time for this program-than now.

Ms. Battle sings a recital of spirituals at NYC’s Metropolitan Opera this Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 4 p.m.  It is certainly the most anticipated ticket in town!

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