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Kathleen Battle’s Triumphant Return to the Met 2016 by Photojournalist Lisa Pacino

On November 13, 2016 Grammy Award winning soprano superstar Kathleen Battle returned to the Metropolitan Opera after 22 years to sing a recital of spirituals, Kathleen Battle: Underground Railroad — A Spiritual Journey.


Metropolitan Opera House, New York, November 13, 2016. Photograph by Lisa Pacino.

Kathleen Battle’s return to the Met was a one-time-only historical recital/concert accompanied by Joel A. Martin on the piano. It featured special guests Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, Cicely Tyson as narrator, Jussie Smollett as narrator, Cyrus Chestnut on piano, Riza Printup on harp, Stephanie Fisher as conductor, Rachel Blackburn as conductor, and a choir of thirty.


The Met program pages, November 13, 2016.

Ms. Battle, who has performed versions of the program in Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Buffalo, and Toronto, said that she was excited to bring it to the Met.

“Spirituals have the power to uplift and to heal, and we certainly need that in today’s world,” she said in a statement. “This is a program which brings together my musical background and my cultural heritage, in the acoustical splendor of the Met.”

The Program Included :
Arr. Sylvia Olden Lee, Lord, How Come Me Here?, Ms. Battle, Choir  Arr. Robert Sadin, Go Down, Moses, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin, Choir  Traditional Spiritual, Roll, Jordan, Roll, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin  Arr. Hall Johnson, City Called Heaven, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin  Arr. Hall Johnson, I’ve Been ’Buked, and I’ve Been Scorned, Choir—a cappella  Traditional Spiritual, Hush, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin  Arr. Hall Johnson, Give Me Jesus, Ms. Battle, Mr. Chestnut  Traditional Spiritual, Wade in the Water, Ms. Battle, Mr. Marsalis, Mr. Chestnut, Choir  Arr. Robert Sadin, Mary Had a Baby (Dedicated to Tamir Rice), Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin, Choir  Arr. Betty Jackson, King Ride Up in the Chariot, Ms. Battle, Mr. Chestnut, Choir   INTERMISSION   Arr. Sylvia Olden Lee, Calvary, Ms. Battle, Ms. Printup   Hall Johnson, In Bright Mansions Above (The Green Pastures, Act i, 1936), Choir, Mr. Martin  Traditional Spiritual, Hold On, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin, Choir  Arr. Thomas Kerr, Gospel Train, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin, Choir  Arr. Robert Sadin, I Don’t Feel No-Ways Tired (based on original melody by James Cleveland) / Farther Along, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin, Choir  Traditional Spiritual, Glory, Glory Hallelujah / Come Out the Wilderness, Mr. Martin, Choir, Ms. Battle  Arr. Jacqueline Hairston, Fix Me, Jesus, Ms. Battle, Choir, Mr. Martin (conductor)—a cappella  Traditional Spiritual, Climbin’ High Mountains, Ms. Battle, Choir—a cappella  Arr. Hale Smith, Balm in Gilead (Dedicated to The Emanuel Nine), Choral arr. Jacqueline Hairston, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin, Women’s Choir  Arr. Hale Smith, Let Us Break Bread Together, Choral arr. Jacqueline Hairston, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin, Choir  Arr. Jacqueline Hairston, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ’Roun’, Ms. Battle, Mr. Martin, Choir  Spiritual, Over My Head I Hear Music in the Air, Ms. Battle—a cappella   Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and poet Robert Hayden passages were read by Cicely Tyson, Jussie Smollett, and chorus members  And more standing ovations then one can count  BRAVA MS. BATTLE! 

Ms. Battle’s triumphant return to the Met is surely cherished and established in history. Her greatness and talents compare to Maria Callas who in 1958, after a feud with general manager Rudolf Bing led to her Metropolitan Opera contract being cancelled. In 1965. Bing invited Callas to return to the Met for two legendary performances of Tosca, that year turned out to be her final season in opera. Ms. Battle, a Grammy-winning star soprano who had sung at the Met 224 times by 1994, when Joseph Volpe, then the company’s general manager, dismissed her from a production of Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment. Twenty-two years later, after being courted by Peter Gelb, Mr. Volpe’s successor, who had worked with her in the past made the arrangements for her return.

She made her Met debut in 1977 as the Shepherd in Wagner’s Tannhäuser, and was particularly lauded for her Mozart and Strauss roles. Ms. Battle’s perfect operatic lyric and coloratura soprano voice along with her elegance and beauty make it evident she is one of the greatest stars to have graced the Met stage.


Metropolitan Opera House, New York, November 13, 2016. Photograph by Lisa Pacino.

 The sold out Met audience included Lawrence Brownlee, Eric Owens, Jill Scott, B. Michael, Alexander Smalls, Reginald Van Lee, Alicia Hall Moran, Jason Moran, Hilda Harris, Marti Newland, Whitney Slaten, Heather Hill, David Jonathan, Laquita Mitchell, ‘Femi Sarah Heggie, Nicole Heaston Lane, Kenneth Overton, Robert Mack, Kevin Thompson, Robert Sims, and many more.

Prior to Ms. Battle’s performance there was a special invite Pre-Performance Talk discussing the Underground Railroad, spirituals, and more with Terrence McKnight of WQXR, Reverend James A. Forbes of Riverside Church, and historian Spencer R. Crew.


The Met Pre-Performance Talk ticket, November 13, 2016.


Metropolitan Opera House, New York, November 13, 2016. Photograph by Lisa Pacino.

Lisa Pacino and Under The Duvet Productions are based in New York. Photography services are available worldwide. If you wish to book photography services, receive information, and/or license images for commercial and/or promotional use please E-mail: UnderTheDuvetProductions@gmail.com

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One comment on “Kathleen Battle’s Triumphant Return to the Met 2016 by Photojournalist Lisa Pacino

  1. Pingback: Met Opera Intermission: Kathleen Battle 2016 by Photojournalist Lisa Pacino | Under The Duvet Productions

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