Kathleen Battle

75-year-old American Soprano Kathleen Battle is returning to the Metropolitan Opera on May 12 for a recital three decades after the company fired her and publicly accused her of “unprofessional actions.”

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. She was known for being very capricious. In 1993, she walked off the stage during rehearsals after battling with conductor Christian Thielemann over tempo and canceled five scheduled performances as Sophie in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier.

General Manager Joseph Volpe terminated her contract for Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment in February 1994 saying the performer’s actions “were profoundly detrimental to the artistic collaboration among all the cast members.” Her uring the nineties her reputation for diva behavior circulated widely.  She was reported to have thrown another soprano’s clothes into the hallway because she wanted that particular dressing room.  She apparently became highly critical of staff and other performers, even banning some from rehearsals.  Staff at the San Francisco Opera were reported to have worn T-shirts that stated, “I survived the Battle.”

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