Jill Newman Productions Presents: Kathleen Battle: Something To Sing About III with Cyrus Chestnut
@ Blue Note Jazz Club – Shows @ 8PM & 10:30PM (Doors @ 6PM & 9:45PM)
Soprano Kathleen Battle’s luminous voice has been called “…without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world” (The Washington Post). Yet beyond the glory of her singing, in a career filled with countless accolades, honors and major milestones, what has perhaps distinguished her most is her almost magical ability to create an unwavering emotional bond between herself, her music and her audience.
The range of Miss Battle’s repertoire spans three centuries from the Baroque era to contemporary works. She has enjoyed some of her greatest successes in the opera house in repertoire ranging from Handel (Cleopatra in the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere staging of Giulio Cesare) to Richard Strauss (Sophie, Zdenka, Zerbinetta). For her Covent Garden debut as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Miss Battle became the first American to be honored with a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a New Opera Production. She has similarly distinguished herself as one of our generation’s finest interpreters of Mozart (Susanna, Despina, Pamina, and Zerlina), as well as the bel canto operas of Rossini (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) and Donizetti (L’Elisir d’Amore, Don Pasquale, La Fille du Regiment). In the words of critic Tim Page, “Miss Battle’s natural territory is music of sweetness, serenity, and girlish ecstasy. Within this repertoire she is all but unequaled.”
In recital, Kathleen Battle, the winner of five Grammy awards, has mesmerized audiences around the globe with her unique artistry and vocal beauty. Of her Carnegie Hall recital debut, New York Newsday declared, “In an age when the vocal recital has practically gone the way of the dinosaur, this was a thrilling case for its return.” For the CD of this recital, released on DG, Miss Battle received one of three Grammy Awards for Best Classical Vocal Soloist; Miss Battle has won a total of five Grammy Awards. The Australian echoed the sentiment of critics around the world, saying, “The Sydney Opera House has played host to any number of great singers…but it’s unlikely there has ever been (or perhaps ever will be) a performance to match the recital American soprano Kathleen Battle gave.”
Kathleen Battle’s gifts as a singer extend beyond the realm of classical music. Her work as a great interpreter of spirituals is documented on a joint recital with Jessye Norman, Spirituals in Concert (DG). Her pure emotional power in this music of joy and sorrow cuts through all cultural boundaries. As the Vienna Kurier put it, “Kathleen Battle sang so beautifully in the spiritual ‘Heaven is one beautiful place,’ she came pretty close to heaven.”
Miss Battle drew considerable attention with the world premiere of Honey and Rue, a song cycle with music by Oscar and Grammy-winner composer André Previn and lyrics by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, commissioned for Miss Battle by Carnegie Hall on the event of their 100th anniversary. Since then, she has performed the work with leading orchestras and in recital throughout the world. The Los Angeles Times called her performance of this work “spellbinding,” while the Cincinnati Herald remarked, “her voice was like the ebb and flow of the seas as an almost sacred silence enclosed the auditorium.” The recording of this cycle was released by DG, on a disc which also includes Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and arias from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Always seeking to expand her artistic horizons, Miss Battle was joined by leading jazz musicians for her first crossover album, So Many Stars (Sony Classical), a collection of lullabies, spirituals, and folksongs.
Kathleen Battle has made immeasurable contributions as an ambassador for classical music, performing for Presidents and dignitaries, and attracting diverse new audiences through television broadcasts of her operas and concerts, as well as through appearances on popular network talk shows. Her performance on the PBS broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s 1991 season opening gala won her an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Classical Program on Television. A documentary film on the recording of Sony’s Baroque Duet album with Wynton Marsalis and John Nelson conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke’s was nominated for an Emmy. Miss Battle’s critically acclaimed “Metropolitan Opera Presents” performances of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, and Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia are available on DG VHS and DVD, while Sony has captured her Zerlina in Karajan’s production of Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival as well.
Praised for the keen intelligence, which informs her musical sensitivity, Kathleen Battle earned both her Bachelor and Master degrees from the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. She has been awarded eight honorary doctoral degrees—from her Alma Mater, the University of Cincinnati; Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey; Ohio University; Xavier University in Cincinnati; Amherst College; Seton Hall University; Wilberforce University, Ohio; Manhattanville College; and the Shawnee State University. In honor of her outstanding artistic achievements, Miss Battle was inducted into the “NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame”, and in 2002 into the “Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame”. She is the first recipient of the “Ray Charles Award” bestowed upon her by Wilberforce University. Heady accomplishments indeed for an artist whose earliest connection to music was simply feeling “blessed to have a voice that somebody else wanted to hear.”« Back to Events