Sarah Caldwell

Sarah Caldwell was a notable American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

, impresario
An impresario is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays or operas; analogous to a film producer in filmmaking, television production and an angel investor in business...

, and stage director of opera.


Caldwell was born in Maryville, Missouri
Maryville, Missouri
Maryville is a city in Nodaway County, Missouri, United States. The population was 10,581 at the 2000 census. The town, organized on February 14, 1845, was named for Mrs. Mary Graham, wife of Amos Graham, then the county clerk. Mary was the first Caucasian woman to have lived within the boundaries...

, and grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Fayetteville is the county seat of Washington County, and the third largest city in Arkansas. The city is centrally located within the county and is home to the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville is also deep in the Boston Mountains, a subset of The Ozarks...

. She was a child prodigy and gave public performances on the violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 by the time she was ten years old. She graduated from Fayetteville High School at the age of fourteen.

Caldwell graduated from Hendrix College
Hendrix College
Hendrix College is a private liberal arts college located in Conway, Arkansas. The student body averages around 1,400 and currently represents forty-three states and fourteen foreign countries. In US News and World Report's America's Best Colleges, Hendrix is ranked annually in the top tier of...

 in 1944 and attended the University of Arkansas
University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas is a public, co-educational, land-grant, space-grant, research university. It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with very high research activity. It is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System and is located in...

 as well as the New England Conservatory of Music
New England Conservatory of Music
The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, is the oldest independent school of music in the United States.The conservatory is home each year to 750 students pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies along with 1400 more in its Preparatory School as well as the School of...

. She won a scholarship as a viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

 player at the Berkshire Music Center in 1946. In 1947, she staged Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams OM was an English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many...

's Riders to the Sea. For 11 years she served as the chief assistant to Boris Goldovsky
Boris Goldovsky
Boris Goldovsky was a Russian conductor and broadcast commentator, active in the United States. He has been called an important "popularizer" of opera in America...


Caldwell moved to Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, in 1952 and became head of the Boston University
Boston University
Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. With more than 4,000 faculty members and more than 31,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest private universities in the United States and one of Boston's largest employers...

 opera workshop. In 1957 she started the Boston Opera Group, which became the Opera Company of Boston
Opera Company of Boston
The Opera Company of Boston was an American opera company located in Boston, Massachusetts that was active during the late 1950s through the early 1990s. The company was founded by American conductor Sarah Caldwell in 1958 under the name Boston Opera Group. At one time, the touring arm of the...

, where she staged a wide range of operas, establishing a reputation for producing difficult works under pressure. She was also known for putting together interesting variations on standard operas. Highlights in Boston that she conducted and/or stage directed included La voyage de la lune, Otello (with Tito Gobbi
Tito Gobbi
Tito Gobbi was an Italian operatic baritone with an international reputation.-Biography:Tito Gobbi was born in Bassano del Grappa and studied law at the University of Padua before he trained as a singer. Giulio Crimi, a well-known Italian tenor of a previous generation, was Gobbi's teacher in Rome...

 as Iago), Command Performance (world premiere), Manon and Faust (both with Beverly Sills
Beverly Sills
Beverly Sills was an American operatic soprano whose peak career was between the 1950s and 1970s. In her prime she was the only real rival to Joan Sutherland as the leading bel canto stylist...

 and Norman Treigle
Norman Treigle
Norman Treigle was an American operatic bass-baritone, who was acclaimed for his great abilities as a singing-actor, and specialized in roles that evoked villainy and terror....

), Lulu (U.S. East Coast premiere), I puritani (with Dame Joan Sutherland
Joan Sutherland
Dame Joan Alston Sutherland, OM, AC, DBE was an Australian dramatic coloratura soprano noted for her contribution to the renaissance of the bel canto repertoire from the late 1950s through to the 1980s....

), Intolleranza (U.S. premiere), Boris Godunov (original version), Hippolyte et Aricie (U.S. stage premiere, with Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo KBE , born José Plácido Domingo Embil, is a Spanish tenor and conductor known for his versatile and strong voice, possessing a ringing and dramatic tone throughout its range...

), La bohème (with Renata Tebaldi
Renata Tebaldi
Renata Tebaldi was an Italian lirico-spinto soprano popular in the post-war period...

 and Domingo), Moses und Aron (U.S. premiere), The Rake's Progress, Bluebeard's Castle, Carmen (with Marilyn Horne
Marilyn Horne
Marilyn Horne is an American mezzo-soprano opera singer. She specialized in roles requiring a large sound, beauty of tone, excellent breath support, and the ability to execute difficult coloratura passages....

), Macbeth (original version), The Good Soldier Schweik, The Fisherman and His Wife (world premiere, with Muriel Costa-Greenspon
Muriel Costa-Greenspon
Muriel Costa-Greenspon was an American mezzo-soprano who had a lengthy career at the New York City Opera between 1963-1993...

), La finta giardiniera, Norma (with Sills), Les Troyens, Don Carlos (U.S. premiere of original French version), Don Quichotte, War and Peace (U.S. stage premiere, with Arlene Saunders
Arlene Saunders
Arlene Saunders is an American spinto soprano opera singer. After making her operatic debut as Rosalinde von Eisenstein, in Die Fledermaus, with the National Opera Company in 1958, she made her first appearance with the New York City Opera in 1961, as Giorgetta in Il tabarro...

), Benvenuto Cellini (U.S. premiere, with Jon Vickers
Jon Vickers
Jonathan Stewart Vickers, CC , known professionally as Jon Vickers, is a retired Canadian heldentenor.Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, he was the sixth in a family of eight children. In 1950, he was awarded a scholarship to study opera at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto...

), I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Montezuma (U.S. premiere), Ruslan and Ludmila (U.S. premiere), Rigoletto (with Sills, Richard Fredricks
Richard Fredricks
Richard Fredricks is an American opera singer, and was one of the leading dramatic baritones of both the New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.- New York City Opera :...

, and Susanne Marsee
Susanne Marsee
Susanne Marsee is an American mezzo-soprano of note. She was one of the New York City Opera's leading mezzo-sopranos from 1970, when she debuted opposite Beverly Sills, Plácido Domingo and Louis Quilico, in Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, with Julius Rudel conducting Tito Capobianco's...

), Stiffelio (U.S. stage premiere), La damnation de Faust, Tosca (with Magda Olivero
Magda Olivero
Magda Olivero is a soprano of the verismo-school of singing. She was born in Saluzzo, Italy. Olivero made her operatic debut in 1932 on Turin radio in Cattozzo’s oratorio I misteri dolorosi. She performed widely and increasingly successfully until 1941, when she married and retired from performing...

), La vide breve, El retablo de maese Pedro, The Ice Break (U.S. premiere), Aïda (with Shirley Verrett
Shirley Verrett
Shirley Verrett was an African-American operatic mezzo-soprano who successfully transitioned into soprano roles i.e. soprano sfogato...

 in the title role), Die Soldaten (U.S. premiere), The Invisible City of Kitezh, Taverner (U.S. premiere), The Makropoulos Case (with Anja Silja
Anja Silja
Anja Silja Regina Langwagen, , born April 17, 1940, in Berlin, is a German soprano who is known for her great abilities as a singing-actress and for the vastness of her repertoire....

, William Cochran
William Cochran
William Cochran may refer to:* William Thad Cochran , U.S. Senator from Mississippi* William Gemmell Cochran , British-American statistician* William Cochran , British physicist...

, and Chester Ludgin
Chester Ludgin
-Biography:Chester Ludgin was a native of Brooklyn, New York. He made his professional debut in 1956 with The Experimental Opera Theatre of America , as Baron Scarpia in Giacomo Puccini's Tosca, conducted by Renato Cellini and directed by Armando Agnini...

), Médée (in French and Greek), Dead Souls (U.S. premiere), Der Rosenkavalier (with Dame Gwyneth Jones
Gwyneth Jones
Gwyneth Jones may refer to:* Gwyneth Jones , Welsh soprano* Gwyneth Jones , British science fiction novelist...

), and, finally, The Balcony (world premiere, 1990).

At the New York City Opera
New York City Opera
The New York City Opera is an American opera company located in New York City.The company, called "the people's opera" by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, was founded in 1943 with the aim of making opera financially accessible to a wide audience, producing an innovative choice of repertory, and...

, Caldwell staged Der junge Lord and Ariadne auf Naxos (with Carol Neblett
Carol Neblett
Carol Neblett is an American operatic soprano.-Life and career:Neblett studied at the University of California, Los Angeles, and in 1969, made her operatic debut with the New York City Opera, playing the part of Musetta in Puccini's La bohème...

), both in 1973. In 1976, she both conducted and directed Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Sills and Alan Titus
Alan Titus
Alan Titus is an internationally-celebrated baritone. He studied under Aksel Schiøtz at the Colorado School of Music, and Hans Heinz at The Juilliard School. His official debut was as Marcello in La bohème, in Washington, DC, in 1969. He came to prominence, however, in Leonard Bernstein's...

), which was televised over PBS, and did the same for Falstaff (with Donald Gramm
Donald Gramm
Donald Gramm was an American bass-baritone whose career was divided between opera and concert performances. His appearances were primarily limited to the United States, which at the time was unusual for an American singer...

) in 1979.

In 1976, Caldwell became the first female conductor at the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

, with La traviata (with Sills). In 1978, she led L'elisir d'amore there, with José Carreras
José Carreras
Josep Maria Carreras i Coll , better known as José Carreras , is a Spanish Catalan tenor particularly known for his performances in the operas of Verdi and Puccini...

 and Judith Blegen
Judith Blegen
Judith Blegen is an American soprano, particularly associated with light lyric roles of the French, Italian and German repertories.-Life and career:Blegen was raised and attended high school in Missoula, Montana...

. She appeared with the New York Philharmonic
New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic is a symphony orchestra based in New York City in the United States. It is one of the American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five"...

, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The orchestra's home is Heinz Hall, located in Pittsburgh's Cultural District.-History:...

, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Boston Symphony Orchestra
The Boston Symphony Orchestra is an orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1881, the BSO plays most of its concerts at Boston's Symphony Hall and in the summer performs at the Tanglewood Music Center...


Also in 1976 she directed John LaMontaigne's U.S. Bicentennial opera "Be Glad Then America" with Odetta
Odetta Holmes, known as Odetta, was an American singer, actress, guitarist, songwriter, and a human rights activist, often referred to as "The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement". Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals...

 (Muse for America), Donald Gramm (various patriots), Richard Lewis (King George III) and the Penn State University Choir and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

She also directed one non-musical production, the 1981 Lincoln Center staging of Shakespeare's Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

, presented on cable TV in 1982. It starred Philip Anglim
Philip Anglim
Philip Charles Anglim is an American actor best known for his performance as Joseph Merrick in the stage and television versions of The Elephant Man, a role for which he received a Best Actor nomination in the 1979 Tony Awards...

 and Maureen Anderman
Maureen Anderman
Maureen Anderman is an American actress best known for her work on the stage. She has appeared in eighteen Broadway shows over the last four decades earning several Drama Desk Award and Tony Award nominations.-Career:...

, with a then-unknown Kelsey Grammer
Kelsey Grammer
Allen Kelsey Grammer is an American actor and comedian. He is most widely known for his two-decade portrayal of psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on the sitcoms Cheers and Frasier...

 in the supporting role of Ross.

In 1975 Caldwell received a D.F.A.
Doctor of Fine Arts
Doctor of Fine Arts is doctoral degree in fine arts, typically given as an honorary degree . The degree is typically conferred to honor the recipient who has made a contribution to society in the arts...

 from Bates College
Bates College
Bates College is a highly selective, private liberal arts college located in Lewiston, Maine, in the United States. and was most recently ranked 21st in the nation in the 2011 US News Best Liberal Arts Colleges rankings. The college was founded in 1855 by abolitionists...

. In 1996 she received the National Medal of Arts
National Medal of Arts
The National Medal of Arts is an award and title created by the United States Congress in 1984, for the purpose of honoring artists and patrons of the arts. It is the highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people. Honorees are selected by the National Endowment for the...

. She has been inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame.

She died, aged 82, at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

, from heart failure.

Studio Discography

  • Donizetti: Don Pasquale (Sills, Kraus, Titus, Gramm; Caldwell, 1978) EMI
    The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...


  • Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia (Sills, H.Price, Titus, Gramm, Ramey; Caldwell, Caldwell, 1976) [live]


  • Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can - there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.

  • If you approach an opera as though it were something that always went a certain way, that's what you get. I approach an opera as though I didn't know it.

  • If you can sell green toothpaste in this country, you can sell opera.

Adapted from the article ( Sarah Caldwell, from Wikinfo, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License
GNU Free Documentation License
The GNU Free Documentation License is a copyleft license for free documentation, designed by the Free Software Foundation for the GNU Project. It is similar to the GNU General Public License, giving readers the rights to copy, redistribute, and modify a work and requires all copies and...


External links

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