Kathleen Battle

Biography

Born: August 13, 1948; Portsmouth, OH  
One of the most famous African-American sopranos, Kathleen Battle received her vocal training at the Cincinnati College Conservatory, where she studied voice with Franklin Bens and also worked with Italo Tajo. While at Cincinnati she came to the attention of conductor Thomas Schippers who brought her to the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina to sing the Brahms Requiem in 1972. She made her stage debut in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia as Read more Rosina with the Michigan Opera Theater in Detroit in 1975. Susanna in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro was her New York City Opera debut role in 1976. During this time, she also sang orchestral concerts in New York, Los Angeles, and Cleveland. James Levine brought her to the Metropolitan Opera in New York as the Shepherd in Wagner's Tannhäuser in 1978, and she appeared frequently at the Met in important roles until 1994. She first appeared in Europe in 1978 at the Italian Spoleto Festival, and in 1979 debuted at the Glyndebourne Festival.

Her first appearance at Salzburg was in 1982 at an all-Mozart concert, and she often returned in concert, recital and opera. Her important opera roles at Salzburg were Susanna, Zerlina, and Despina, three Mozart roles with which she has been associated at many opera houses around the world. She has appeared at most of the major opera houses of the world including San Francisco, Chicago, Covent Garden, London, Geneva, Vienna, and Berlin. In 1985, she was the soprano soloist in Mozart's Coronation Mass at St. Peter's Cathedral at the Vatican, in a performance conducted by Herbert von Karajan. She sang Handel's Semele in a highly acclaimed performance in 1985 at Carnegie Hall and later recorded the role. In 1990 she was joined by Jessye Norman for a concert of spirituals which was conducted by James Levine at Carnegie Hall. Although best known for roles in the operas of Mozart and Strauss (Zdenka, Sophie and Zerbinetta), Battle has also had great success in Massenet's Werther, Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, Don Pasquale, and La fille du regiment, Verdi's Un ballo in maschera and Falstaff and Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia and L'Italiana in Algeri. Battle has maintained an active recital career, and her Schubert interpretations are very fine. Her recital programs have also featured songs by Mozart, Strauss, Fauré and Rodrigo.

Kathleen Battle's voice is a high, very pure soprano with great charm. She has excellent technical control, which has allowed her to sing the difficult coloratura roles of Rosina and Zerbinetta though her approach is always more lyric that that of most coloratura sopranos. She is an excellent actress and tries to give full characterization to each of her roles. Several of her best roles were televised live from the Metropolitan Opera, New York and later released on video.

A perfectionist in her own work, Battle became more and more difficult to deal with as her career moved forward. Some felt that her demands were becoming unreasonable, and her behavior became erratic. These difficulties came to public attention when she was dismissed from the Metropolitan Opera in 1994 for "unprofessional conduct." Battle has continued to appear in concert and recital and remains a favorite of the public. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 57 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    50 Best Mozart
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 548164 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Leopold Mozart,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Emile Naoumoff,  Jack Brymer,  Christian Zacharias,  Frank Peter Zimmermann  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Sir Neville Marriner,  David Zinman  ... 
    CD: $10.99
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  • 2.
    Rossini Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 574311 Release Date: 10/26/2018   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ottorino Respighi
    Performer:  Annick Massis,  Rodney Gilfry,  Raúl Giménez,  Pietro Spagnoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Marc Minkowski,  Gabriele Ferro,  Claudio Scimone,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert des Tuileries,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Cologne West German Radio Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $99.98
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  • 3.
    Luciano Pavarotti - The Complete Opera Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4832417 Release Date: 12/01/2017   Number of Discs: 101
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Josephine Veasey,  Cornelius Opthof  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge,  Sir Georg Solti,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Bruno Bartoletti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $394.49
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  • 4.
    Boston Symphony Orchestra: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797718 Release Date: 10/20/2017   Number of Discs: 57
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander Scriabin,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Zukofsky,  Christoph Eschenbach,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Teresa Berganza  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  William Steinberg,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Chamber Players
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    CD: $262.49
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  • 5.
    Karajan Sacred & Choral Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797060 Release Date: 03/10/2017   Number of Discs: 29
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Walter Berry,  Anton Dermota,  Hilde Rössel-Majdan,  Wolfgang Meyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Domenico Bartolucci
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $97.99
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  • 6.
    Kathleen Battle: The Complete Sony Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985381362 Release Date: 01/06/2017   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  George Frideric Handel,  Alessandro Scarlatti,  Luca Antonio Predieri  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Battle,  John Feeney,  Anthony Newman,  Daire Fitzgerald  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  John Nelson,  André Previn,  Wynton Marsalis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  American Boychoir  ... 
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  • 7.
    Great Moments at Carnegie Hall (Selected Highlights)
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 530420 Release Date: 05/06/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Paul de Schlözer,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Ronald Turini,  Artur Rubinstein,  Jorge Bolet,  Van Cliburn  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Arturo Toscanini,  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra of St. Luke's
    CD: $17.99
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  • 8.
    Verdi: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459302 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 75
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Violeta Urmana,  Stuart Neill,  Maria Guleghina,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Lamberto Gardelli,  James Levine,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  London Voices,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $270.99
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  • 9.
    Mozart: Requiem, Etc / Giulini, Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88697721022 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Simon Estes,  Keith Lewis,  Jard Van Nes,  Lynne Dawson  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Robert Sadin,  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus,  Orchestra of St. Luke's
    CD: $6.99
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  • 10.
    Itzhak Perlman - Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002298802 Release Date: 05/26/2015   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  Igor Stravinsky,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ernest Chausson  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Daniel Barenboim,  Myor Rosen  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa,  Daniel Barenboim,  Zubin Mehta,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
    CD: $132.99
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  • 11.
    James Levine conducts Brahms
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 686042 Release Date: 08/26/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Emanuel Ax,  Kathleen Battle,  James Levine,  Hĺkan Hagegĺrd
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus
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    CD: $22.99
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  • 12.
    The 50 Greatest Tracks / Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001922802 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Malcolm King,  Robert [Bass Vocal] Lloyd  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Richard Bonynge,  Edward Downes  ... 
    CD: $25.99
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  • 13.
    Pavarotti Sings Verdi [3-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001853602 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Riccardo Cassinelli,  Leo Nucci,  Anthony Rolfe Johnson  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli,  Sir Georg Solti,  Richard Bonynge,  Peter Maag  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $52.49
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  • 14.
    French Opera Arias
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001818602 Release Date: 04/02/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Jules Massenet,  Charles Gounod,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Battle
    Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
    CD: $12.99
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  • 15.
    Mozart: Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail / Solti, Gruberova
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001726802 Release Date: 09/11/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Edita Gruberova,  Martti Talvela,  Gösta Winbergh,  Kathleen Battle  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
    CD: $25.99
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  • 16.
    Mozart: The Da Ponte Operas / Muti, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 04463 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Maria Bierbaumber,  Franco De Grandis,  Elisabeth Kudrna-Schrei,  Thomas Allen  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung
    CD: $43.99
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  • 17.
    Mahler: Symphony No 2 / Levine, Vienna
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 837112 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Kathleen Battle,  Christa Ludwig
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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    CD: $14.99
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  • 18.
    Placido Domingo - The Opera Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001515202 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 26
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Geoffrey Pogson,  Jean Lainé,  Alicia Nafé,  Richard Amner  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Ion Marin,  Georges Prętre,  Giuseppe Sinopoli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $120.49
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  • 19.
    Christmas In The Park
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 18981 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Bernard,  Traditional,  Lowell Mason,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Chet Baker,  Sir David Willcocks,  John Carol Case,  Stan Kenton  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks,  Michael Jaffee,  James Litton,  Philip Ledger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Waverly Consort
    CD: $12.99
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  • 20.
    Seiji Ozawa - Anniversary
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001464002 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Trevor Pinnock,  Everett Firth,  Simon Preston,  Kathleen Battle  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $70.99
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  • 21.
    Metropolitan Opera Gala 1991 - 25th Anniversary At Lincoln Center
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001431609 Release Date: 06/22/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Francesco Cilča,  Mitchell Leigh,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Placido Domingo,  Mirella Freni,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    Recommendation
    DVD: $46.49
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  • 22.
    111 Years Of Deutsche Grammophon [6 CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001340802 Release Date: 10/20/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Gidon Kremer,  Martha Argerich,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Hans Hotter  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Strauss,  James Levine,  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Andalucian Dogs
    CD: $32.99
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  • 23.
    Metropolitan Opera Centennial Gala (1983)
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001326309 Release Date: 09/15/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Renato Bruson,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Montserrat Caballé  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    DVD: $32.99
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  • 24.
    Classical Prep School - Essential Music
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80749 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Richard Wagner,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  John O'Conor,  James Van Demark,  Rudolf Serkin,  Michael Chertock  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Bishop,  Yoel Levi,  Erich Kunzel,  Lorin Maazel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Cincinnati Pops,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 25.
    Carnegie Hall Presents: Lift Every Voice! - Honoring The African American Musical Legacy
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 743921 Release Date: 02/17/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Aretha Franklin,  Murray Grand,  Albert Hammond,  Van Alexander  ... 
    Performer:  Aretha Franklin,  Nancy Wilson,  Johnny Mathis,  Ella Fitzgerald  ... 
    Conductor:  Edward "Duke" Ellington,  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sweet Honey in the Rock
    CD: $17.99
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