The outstanding black American soprano, Kathleen (Deanna) Battle, studied with Franklin Bens and has earned both her bachelor's (1970) and master's (1971) degrees from the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati.
Kathleen Battle made her professional debut at the Spoleto Festival in Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem under the baton of Thomas Schippers. Her Metropolitan Opera debut came only five years later in Wagner's Tannhäuser. Kathleen Battle has been awarded six honorary doctoral degrees -- from her alma mater, the University of Cincinnati; Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J.; Ohio University; Xavier University in Cincinnati; Amherst College; and Seton Hall University.
Kathleen Battle's lyric soprano voice and unique artistry have captivated audiences around the world, making her one of the most acclaimed singers of our time. She has appeared on the stages of the world's leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the opera houses of Vienna, Paris, San Francisco and Chicago.
Kathleen Battle has performed with the world's great orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, and Orchestre de Paris. She has also appeared at the festivals of Salzburg, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Blossom, the Hollywood Bowl, Mann Music Centre and Caramoor, and at Cincinnati's May Festival.
A five-time Grammy Award winner, the soprano has recorded for Sony Classical throughout her career. Her latest recording for the label, Grace, is a collection of sacred arias and songs by J.S. Bach, George Frideric Handel, Mozart, Rossini, and Gabriel Fauré. After its release in the spring of 1997, it immediately rose to the top of the Billboard Classical chart. Battle's first crossover album, So Many Stars, was released by the label in 1995. On this recording she is joined by leading jazz musicians, including Grover Washington Jr., Cyrus Chestnut, Christian McBride and James Carter, in a collection of lullabies, spirituals and folksongs. In conjunction with the disc's release, she opened Jazz at Lincoln Center's 1995-96 season with a concert of spirituals, music of Duke Ellington, and selections from the album.
Kathleen Battle's recent Sony Classical releases also include Angels' Glory, where she is joined by Christopher Parkening in a collection of Christmas songs arranged for guitar and voice. The disc features intimate, rare songs from around the world as well as well-known favourites such as "Silent Night." Baroque Duet, her 1991 Sony Classical recording with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Orchestra of St. Luke's under the baton of John Nelson, has proven one of the best-selling classical records in the USA since its release.
Memorable concerts featuring Battle have been recorded live and are now available on Sony Classical home video. They include Mozart's Coronation Mass from the Vatican and the 1987 New Year's Concert, both with Herbert von Karajan conducting, as well as A Carnegie Hall Christmas Concert , with Frederica von Stade and Wynton Marsalis and conducted by André Previn. A documentary film on the recording of Baroque Duet was nominated for an Emmy following its broadcast on PBS. It is also available as a Sony Classical video release, as is her performance as Zerlina in Herbert von Karajan's production of Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival.
With a stage repertoire spanning the centuries from G.F. Handel (Cleopatra in the Metropolitan Opera's 1988-89 premiere staging of Giulio Cesare) to Richard Strauss, Kathleen Battle is equally at home performing Mozart's Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro as she is in the bel canto operas of Rossini (Il barbiere di Siviglia) and Donizetti (L'elisir d'amore). Her Pamina in Die Zauberflöte has been hailed as one of the greatest Mozartean characterisations of our generation, and her glittering Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a New Opera Production for her debut at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In addition, she has performed Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni and Despina in Così fan tutte, Sophie in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and Zdenka in Arabella, Marie in Donizetti's La fille du régiment and Norina in Don Pasquale.
Kathleen Battle enjoys close musical collaborations with many of the most noted artists of our time. She has appeared in concert with the world's major conductors, including Herbert von Karajan, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Leonard Slatkin, André Previn, Claudio Abbado, Sir Georg Solti, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, and Sir Neville Marriner. She has performed with soprano Jessye Norman, tenors Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo, violinist Itzhak Perlman, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal, guitarist Christopher Parkening, and saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. These partnerships are documented on numerous recordings and videos.
Kathleen Battle's appearance on the PBS broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's 1991 season opening gala won her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Classical Program on Television in the USA.
In recital, Kathleen Battle has toured extensively throughout the USA, Canada, South America, Europe and the Far East, performing regularly in such music capitals as New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Paris, London, Vienna, Berlin, Tokyo, and Milan.