NEW YORK (AP) — Kathleen Battle is returning to the Metropolitan Opera, 22 years after the company fired her, citing “unprofessional actions.”
Battle, who will be 68 in August, will sing a recital on Nov. 13 titled, “Underground Railroad-A Spiritual Journey,” the company said Monday. She will be accompanied by pianist Joel Martin and by a choir under the direction of James Davis Jr., director of music ministries and fine arts at New York’s Abyssinian Baptist Church.
Battle made her Met debut in 1977 and was a favorite of music director James Levine. She walked off the stage during rehearsals in 1993 after battling with conductor Christian Thielemann over tempo and canceled five scheduled performances as Sophie in Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier.”
Joseph Volpe, then the Met’s general manager, publicly announced in February 1994 that the company had terminated her contract for Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment (The Daughter of the Regiment),” saying her actions “were profoundly detrimental to the artistic collaboration among all the cast members.”
Peter Gelb, who took over from Volpe in 2006, said in a statement: “Ever since I was appointed to the Met I’ve been trying to convince Kathy to return to the opera house.”
Battle has sung 224 performances of 14 roles with the Met, last appearing with the company in 1993.