On Saturday, September 30th, I had the thrill of seeing a true opera superstar at the Auditorium, here in Chicago. The five-time Grammy Award winner, Kathleen Battle has sung all of the great Operas and reigned supreme at the Metropolitan Opera House, in the 80’s and early 90’s. Reviewers have long rhapsodized about the quality of her voice. One of opera’s premier lyric and coloratura sopranos, the Washington Post said of Battle “…without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world”; from The New York Times “cream from a miraculous, bottomless pitcher”.
Singing “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Her current tour is called Kathleen Battle – Underground Railroad: A Spiritual Journey While not an opera program, per se, Battle’s training and background come through. Presented recital style with only a single piano for accompaniment and backed by a 30 voice chorus including The Chicago Freedom Singers. The show also incorporates the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss III and Jackie Taylor as Narrators who educate the audience about the history of the Underground Railroad. There are quotes from Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, who both used the Underground Railroad to escape to their own freedom and in the case of Tubman, she then helped many other slaves find freedom through the Underground Railroad.
Kathleen Battle’s stage presence was amazing and her voice as beautiful and pure as ever it was, considering she is now in her late 60’s, that’s impressive. She also showed great generosity in giving showcasing solos to several of the other singers. The repertoire contained such well known gems as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, “All Night, All Day” and “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah (Come Out the Wilderness)”. The presentation was interesting and uplifting, leaving one with the sense of not only having enjoyed an evening of beautiful and unique music, but of also having learned a great deal.
I for one, look forward to future concerts presented by Ms. Battle and having the opportunity to enjoy her beautiful voice once again.