Battle, Kathleen

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Portrait of Kathleen Battle (click to view image source)
Kathleen Battle
(to view image author and license, click here)
Battle, Kathleen Gender: F
Kathleen Deanna Battle
born on 13 August 1948 at 00:50 (= 12:50 AM )
Place Portsmouth, Ohio, 38n44, 83w0
Timezone EST h5w (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Clifford
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_leocol.18.gif 20°22' s_mo.18.gif s_sagcol.18.gif 07°31 Asc.s_gemcol.18.gif 16°55'


American soprano, vastly gifted and a fiercely perfectionistic lyric coloratura. The youngest of seven children, the daughter of an Ohio steelworker, she grew up in an all-black neighborhood in a depressed area of Portsmouth, Ohio. Even as a small child, her voice was described by teachers as "angelic." He dad, who sang in a gospel choir, was her inspiration.

She sang at churches, at picnics and at high school and was encouraged by her music teacher to attend the Cincinnati Conservatory. She had never heard a symphony orchestra and did not even know who Maria Callas was. There were few blacks there and Battle herself had not gone to school with whites until she was 12. Nonetheless, she flourished. She could sight-read and could pull out the meaning in a score, and more, she could communicate with an audience.

Though her voice was deemed lovely, it was considered too small for opera. By age 24, she was teaching music in an inner-city school when conductor Thomas Schippers opened an audition to local singers. When she tried out, he promptly chose her to sing the soprano role in Brahms's "German Requiem" that summer at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. It was the turning point.

The next year she met James Levine, who would later join the Met, and they hit if off well. He soon began to engage her for concerts and to act as an informal coach and adviser. She sang "Susanna" in the New York opera in 1976. Levine was the music director at the Met when Battle auditioned for the company and was hired for a "beginner" role, that of the shepherd in "Tannhauser," making her debut on 9/18/1978.

By 1982, she was clearly moving into the superstar class. At 5'3" and a size 8, diminutive with sleek beauty, girlish charm and a pearly smooth and magnificent voice, her specialties were the soubrette, or servant, roles and those of the ingénue, the realm of coquette rather than that of show-stopping power. However her talent transcended and transformed the repertory. She dazzled on the stage. Since her debut, she played in over a hundred performances at the Met, and has sung in Paris, Vienna and Covent Garden as a noted recitalist. Battle is also impressive with black spirituals, making up to $40,000 a performance. By 1988 she was singing with Pavarotti in Central Park. Von Karajan engaged her for Salzburg and she performed with the most famous artists of her field. Her recordings began to sell in the 100,000 range and she was also a "crossover" star, singing at the Grammy's, doing a song on a Janet Jackson record. She seemed invincible. Offstage, she was beginning to self-destruct.

When she started at the Met in 1977, she was as exuberant and high-spirited as a teenager. She ran around in blue jeans, and men could not take their eyes off her. Soon, however, her girlish high spirits were gone. On tour, she refused to ride with the other singers. Very few stars are known for being mean to backstage people, but Battle set a record in clashing with production workers. During the run of one opera, she was so scathing to the wardrobe mistress that she reduced the woman to tears. At the closing performance during her big number, the spot mysteriously failed and she was left in a darkened stage. The electrician in charge was the husband of the wardrobe mistress. On another set, she engaged in a now-famous war to get Dressing Room One. Battle became renowned for leaving a trail of ill will as a maddening prima donna. The discrepancy between what she is really like and her exquisite voice and charming stage presence prompted endless gossip, anger and outrage among the cognoscenti. She was an artist who managed to uniformly alienate everyone in every place she appeared.

In 1988 the Met went on its grand tour of Japan, at which point she went from difficult to impossible. Carol Vaness declared that she would never again work with her. She managed to even offend her longtime mentor Levine who also vowed that he would never again conduct her. When out of sorts, she began singing in half-voice, cheating the audience and her enmity began to spread to her fans. She pulled out of a Vienna Philharmonic concert so late that, for perhaps the only time in its history, the great orchestra had to cancel an entire performance. Her complaints ranged from petty to show-stopping.

On 2/07/1994, the Met Opera director Joseph Volpe fired her from the cast of the production, setting off a chorus of applause with the comments, "It's about time." She had cultivated such a lack of popularity, that she was often derided with comments such as, "really screwed up." Indeed, she appeared deeply troubled, possibly with narcisstic personality disorder, in which a person vacillates between enormous insecurity and a grandiosity that demands constant attention and admiration. In a world of oversized egos and temperamental behavior, Battle's behavior was not only egomaniacal but also destructive. Even Callas, who behaved outrageously, was a pro through and through when she went on stage.

After leaving the Met, Battle retreated into seclusion and silence, emerging only to sing a few orchestral dates. An appearance at Carnegie Hall on 2/28/1994 was uneventful, even though she sang so softly that many notes could not be heard. She is booked months, even years ahead, though her dates at the Met have vanished and a perceptible chill has spread over the opera world. The list of orchestras which she alienated is a long one and her list of engagements is increasingly short.

For record companies, Battle remains pure gold. She put out four albums for Deutche Grammophon in 1995 and collaborators are willing to work with her on disk and on TV. Many are hoping that she pulls through the crisis, gets help and continues to exercise the great gift of her talent .

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Work : Gain social status 1973 (Sang at Spoleto Festival in Italy)
  • Work : Gain social status 18 September 1978 (Debut at the Met)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Gain social status 1988 (Superstar)
  • Work : Lose social status 1988 (Outrageously prima-donna)
  • Work : Fired/Laid off/Quit 7 February 1994 (Fired from Met)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

B.C. in hand from Frank C. Clifford


  • Traits : Body : Appearance gorgeous
  • Traits : Body : Race (Black)
  • Traits : Body : Size (Height of 5' 3" size 8)
  • Traits : Personality : Difficult/ mean spirited (Rude, spiteful)
  • Traits : Personality : Perfectionist
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Borderline Personality Disorder (Unable to get along, self-destructive)
  • Family : Childhood : Disadvantaged (Inner-city)
  • Family : Childhood : Family large (Seven kids)
  • Family : Childhood : Order of birth (Seventh of seven kids)
  • Lifestyle : Work : Travel for work (Tours)
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Rags to riches
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Vocalist/Opera
  • Notable : Extraordinary Talents : For Music (Operatic singer)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession
  • Notable : Book Collection : Profiles Of Women