Sarah Caldwell: The First Woman of Opera

Sarah Caldwell: The First Woman of Opera

by Daniel Kessler


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Sarah Caldwell: The First Woman of Opera is the first biography of this significant musician, conductor, and director and documents Ms. Caldwell's genius as an indomitable force for opera in America. Caldwell mounted many U.S. premieres and brought rare editions of standard works to her audiences. At the height of her career, she raised her baton over four of the top five orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and conducted orchestras in such cities as Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Antonio, Atlanta, Mexico City, and Puerto Rico. She conducted ensembles in Canada, Sweden, South Africa, and Russia; was a musical director for Wolf Trap; and was the first woman to conduct at the Metropolitan Opera. She founded the renowned Opera Company of Boston, as well as the outreach effort Opera New England and a nation-wide touring enterprise, the American National Opera Company. Caldwell's undeniable zeal was evident in whatever she undertook, and her accomplishments invite reflection, showing what an opera company could and should be in America. Daniel Kessler presents Ms. Caldwell's life in flashbacks and explores her 1978 landmark production of Gaetano Donizetti's Don Pasquale, which serves as a prime example of how she engaged with her creative Muse. He describes her personal and professional life, including her experience with the impresario Boris Goldovsky, her ability to create her own brand of "stage wizardry," and her moments of overreaching and hubris, such as her unorthodox fundraising methods and her experience with Imelda Marcos. Complete with several illustrations, a bibliography, an index, and the comprehensive annals of her three opera companies, Sarah Caldwell demonstrates what one person of genius, imagination, and passion can accomplish single-handedly.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810861107
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 07/31/2008
Pages: 334
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Daniel Kessler is a writer and lecturer on opera. He is a contributor to Opera Quarterly and has served as a lecturer for the San Francisco Opera.

Table of Contents

Preface     v
Acknowledgments     vii
Sarah Caldwell: Boston Finale     1
The Early Years     7
Sarah the Improviser     23
Getting the Show on the Stage     31
Sarah the Musicologist     39
The Golden Years     49
Touring and the Anoc     65
The Nomadic Years     81
More Feats of Derring-Do     93
Seizing the Moment: Opera New England     109
Working with Sarah     117
Other Artistic Worlds to Conquer     125
A Home at Last     141
Sarah and the Imelda Marcos Connection     153
Understanding Sarah     161
Sarah's Indian Summer     171
Sarah in Exile     183
Sarah the Enigma     189
Epilogue     195
Annals of the Boston Opera Group and the Opera Company of Boston     197
Annals of Opera New England     263
Annals of the American National Opera Company     289
Bibliography     301
Index     305
About the Author     317

What People are Saying About This

Martin Bernheimer

Sarah Caldwell was a unique force in the world of opera — inspired, inspiring, bold, idealistic, unconventional and almost indomitable. Daniel Kessler's fascinating exploration of her life and work is sensitive, cool-headed, delicately balanced, elegantly written and splendidly researched.

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