Sarah Caldwell Sarah Caldwell w ith Beverly Sills
Sarah Caldwell, impresario, conductor, and brilliant stage director, made Boston an international operatic capital for three decades, winning laurels for her theatrical genius and arousing controversy for her freewheeling administrative style. ''Her whole life," her friend and Opera Company of Boston prima donna Beverly Sills once said, ''was one big improvisation, most of it inspired." Ms. Caldwell died Thursday night in Maine Medical Center in Portland. She was 82. Her longtime assistant and former manager of the Opera Company, James Morgan, said yesterday that she died of heart failure. For many years, Ms. Caldwell had respiratory problems. In 1958, Ms. Caldwell founded her company with $5,000. She directed its first production, Offenbach's ''Voyage to the Moon," on Boston Common, a staging so successful Ms. Caldwell took it to the White House lawn; she followed up with Puccini's ''La Boheme" in a converted movie theater. Over the years, she presented a large, diverse, and challenging repertoire of more than 75 operas of every period and style, including many US premieres, and with a significant commitment to challenging 20th-century work. ''I learned an awful lot from Sarah and enjoyed the way she worked, even when she made mistakes," Shirley Verrett, Ms. Caldwell's leading soprano during the 1970s and '80s, once said. ''Even when I didn't think I was learning anything from her, I was. I would listen to her talk to the young people in the casts, and I would wonder why I had never thought of that."
There was no single ''Caldwell style" of operatic production: She was interested in everything from Baroque theater practice to avant-garde methods using the latest advances from the labs at MIT, always applying her diverse interests in surprising and provocative ways. She embraced the whole spectrum of possibility -- original languages and English translation; major stars and emerging American singers; standard and variant performing editions; anything that was lively and pertinent. Ms. Caldwell's work was unified by a profound and comprehensive vision of how opera could be relevant and vital in our time, and defined by a splendid theatricality. Her adventurousness was often ahead of its time, and it took decades for other US companies to catch up to her daring, especially in repertoire. She also opened the door for subsequent generations of important female operatic directors. Sills, who sang in 17 operas for Ms. Caldwell, once said: ''Sarah did present challenges -- it was a challenge to be her friend, to be her colleague, her employee, but in the end it was worth it. . . . She could turn a piece you've done 100 times into something you felt you were experiencing for the first time."
Ms. Caldwell was a large woman with a big, complex, imperious, and compelling personality that created fierce loyalties and aroused equally fierce opposition. Her strongest suit was staging. She became famous for her flamboyant theatrical effects: for Don Quixote being caught up by the blades of a stage-spanning windmill, for the casting of the golden statue of Perseus in ''Benvenuto Cellini," for the diorama of Rome spooling by in ''Don Pasquale," for the spectacular entry of the Trojan horse in ''Les Troyens." But she was also attentive to small details that linger in the memory -- the presence of Pinkerton's football among Madama Butterfly's treasures was infinitely touching. Placido Domingo said that hers was the most persuasive staging of Act III of ''La Boheme" he ever sang in. Ms. Caldwell could be a persuasive and stylish conductor in traditional repertoire, but her leading of demanding new works was a high-risk operation. One player said, ''She makes you want to play better than you ever played in your life, and then she makes it impossible."
Ms. Caldwell was always ready to spend money she didn't have, but compared with other impresarios and the budgets of other opera companies, she operated on a shoestring. On her great nights, the sweep of her imagination and the power of her showmanship could never be represented by a line item in a budget. Urban legends circulated around Ms. Caldwell's personality, her ferocious intelligence, and her single-minded devotion to opera. Once, a major donor from Stop & Shop had to bundle up cash in grocery bags so the show could go on. She always vigorously denied that she padded around in carpet slippers and slept in the theater on piles of curtains, but she did fuel herself with hamburgers, and when the fuel ran out, she would doze off before snapping to alarmingly full attention as if she hadn't missed a thing.
The last decade of the Opera Company represented a downward spiral -- financial and administrative chaos led to compromised artistic standards, which in turn led to further financial woes. Nevertheless, Ms. Caldwell was still capable of great work when the circumstances permitted. Her production of Janacek's ''The Makropulos Case" in 1986 ranked with her best, and Leonard Bernstein felt her 1989 staging of his ''Mass" was the finest the piece had received. The 1988 festival ''Making Music Together," in cooperation with composers, singers, and dancers from the Soviet Union, might have consolidated Ms. Caldwell's reputation permanently. There were many first-rate events during the three-week festival, and it helped bring international prominence to several significant creative figures, including Sofia Gubaidulina, Alfred Schnittke, and Giya Kancheli. But the adventure was seriously underfinanced and chaotically organized. Only the last-minute intervention of Secretary of State George Shultz made it possible for the festival to go on, and those who were forced to pay for it in order to avoid a diplomatic embarrassment never forgave or forgot. Ms. Caldwell struggled for years to dig her way out of the real estate mess and reestablish her company in Boston. Although she sacrificed most of her personal property and financial assets to the effort, she failed. The company ceased operations in 1991 and gave up control of the theater in 1996.
Nonetheless, Ms. Caldwell experienced moments of triumph elsewhere. She became the principal guest conductor of the Ural Philharmonic, in Ekaterinburg, Russia, and gave the Russian premiere of Debussy's ''Pelleas et Melisande." She was a leader in an international library project to preserve musical manuscripts. In 1999, she joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas, where she directed innovative productions of Puccini's ''La Boheme" and Britten's ''The Turn of the Screw," which she staged in a bar. Her time in Arkansas was shadowed by deteriorating health. In 2003 she moved to Freeport, Maine, where she bought a house and Morgan looked after her. Ms. Caldwell came back to Boston in 2004 to receive an award from the New England Opera Club, and Mayor Thomas M. Menino proclaimed a ''Sarah Caldwell Day." In 2005, she attended a screening of Richard Leacock's film about her activities in Russia, ''A Musical Adventure in Siberia," at the Museum of Fine Arts. When the lights went up and she was discovered seated in the audience, there was an ovation. Ms. Caldwell was the recipient of 35 honorary degrees, and in 1997 she received the National Medal of the Arts from President Clinton. Praising the way she had brought ''difficult but beautiful operas to the stage," Clinton said, ''she's come a long way from Arkansas, and I'm very proud of her."
<ul><li>Barbara Hendricks was born in Stephens, Arkansas, and received her musical training and her Bachelor of Music at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Earlier, she had completed her studies at the University of Nebraska receiving the degree of Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Chemistry at the age of 20. </li></ul><ul><li>She made her American and European operatic debuts in 1974 at the San Francisco Opera and at the Glyndebourne Festival and went on to appear at all major opera houses throughout the world, including the Paris Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden and La Scala. Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro was her debut role in Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg and Munich. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Ms. Hendricks has more than 20 roles in her active opera repertoire, 12 of which she has already recorded. She made her film debut as Mimi in La Bohème , directed by Luigi Comencini. </li></ul><ul><li>Since her 1974 New York Town Hall debut, Barbara Hendricks has been acclaimed as one of the leading and most active recitalists of her generation. She has performed her extensive orchestral repertoire with all of the leading conductors and orchestras of our time and is one of today's best-selling recording artists, having nearly 80 recordings to her credit with conductors such as Barenboim, Bernstein, Davis, Dorati, Giulini, Haitink, Karajan, Maazel, Mehta, Sawallisch and Solti. </li></ul>
<ul><li>After nearly 20 years of service to the cause of refugees and her untiring support for the UNHCR she has been named Honorary Ambassador For Life by the UNHCR and will be given special tasks that demand her long unparalleled experience and commitment. </li></ul><ul><li>At the end of 1991 and 1993, she gave two solidarity concerts in war-ridden former Yugoslavia (Dubrovnik and Sarajevo). In 1998 she founded the Barbara Hendricks Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation to personalise her struggle for the prevention of conflicts in the world and to facilitate reconciliation and enduring peace where conflicts have already occurred. In 2001, at the special request of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kofi Annan, she sang for the Nobel Prize ceremony and gala concert in Oslo, and in May 2002 for the East Timor Independence Day Ceremony. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Awards and achievements She has received numerous awards for her artistic achievements and humanitarian work: Doctorat Honoris Causa from the University of Louvain in Belgium (1990), Doctor in Law from the University of Dundee in Scotland (1992), Doctor of Music from the Nebraska Wesleyan University (1988), and Doctorat Honoris Causa from the University of Grenoble in France (1996). Honorary Doctor of Music from the Juilliard School of Music in New York (2000). Since 1990, she has been a Member of the Swedish Academy of Music. In 1986, the French government made Barbara Hendricks a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres , and in 1992, she was awarded the rank of Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by President Mitterrand. In 2000 she was The Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts (Spain) recipient for her advocacy for human rights and for the contribution of her artistic work to mankind's cultural heritage. In 2001 she received the Lions Club International Award to encourage the actions of her foundation. She has lived in Europe since 1977, is a Swedish citizen and she and her husband have three children </li></ul>
<ul><li>Roy Buchanan played professionally for a decade before deciding to become a solo performer. His incredibly unique style and blazing technique earned him many accolades and fans, who knew him as a backing musician for the cousins Ronnie and Dale Hawkins . </li></ul><ul><li>A television story called him "the best unknown guitarist in the world" and Rolling Stone Magazine heralded him as "one of the three greatest living guitarists." Tough credentials for anybody to live up to, but Buchanan could play in almost any style he aspired: Rock, Country, Gospel, Hillbilly or Blues. </li></ul><ul><li>He was also a remarkably influential player, inspiring future guitar wizards Robbie Robertson and Danny Gatton, among others. Word of his talent was widespread, as notables such as Les Paul and John Lennon sought to hear him play. It was also said that The Rolling Stones offered Buchanan a position in their band to replace Brian Jones in 1969. </li></ul>
Even though Roy was undoubtedly one of the most talented and original guitarists in the country—even the world– he did not achieve great, worldwide fame. His greatest satisfaction seems to have been in small, more intimate venues where he could see open-mouthed, jaw-dropped expressions of wonder and hear applause up close. He knew that his blistering hot licks were in a class all their own – totally unique – totally Roy Buchanan. As with many entertainers, alcohol and drugs were a part of his life as well as his death. Arrested in Reston, Virginia, his hometown, a drunken Buchanan was jailed. His life ended at the end of the shirt tied around his neck which he apparently used to hang himself. Videos and recordings of his amazing talent continue to thrill fans and the general public. He was a guitar virtuoso whose technique and style place him among the very best.
<ul><li>Dr. Francis McBeth became the third music director and conductor of the Arkansas Symphony in 1970. During his first season, the Symphony performed only six concerts. The number of concerts rose to seventeen in 1973, and attendance grew from 600 to almost 7,000. The following year the symphony audience grew to 28,000. One of the most important programs McBeth initiated to increase the Symphony audience was the pre-performance talks, which is known today as "Concert Conversations." The 1972-1973 season opened to a standing-room-only crowd, and the box office could only guarantee seats for season ticket holders, IF they arrived early. The April concert of 1973 marked the first time the Symphony held a concert at Robinson Center Music Hall. </li></ul>W. Francis McBeth
<ul><li>Dr. McBeth (1933- ) is Professor of Music, Resident Composer and Chairman of the Theory-Composition Department at Ouachita University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and has held this position since 1957. Dr. McBeth was appointed to the Lena Trimble Shepperson Endowed Chair of Music by the president and trustees of Ouachita University in 1983. He was conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in Little Rock for many years until his retirement in 1973, whereupon he was elected Conductor Emeritus. </li></ul><ul><li>The most outstanding of his awards have been the Presley Award at Hardin-Simmons University, the Howard Hanson Prize at the Eastman School of Music for his THIRD SYMPHONY, recipient of an ASCAP Special Award each consecutive year from 1965 to the present, the American School Band Directors Association's Edwin Franko Goldman Award, elected Fellow of the American Wind and Percussion Artists by the National Band Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia's American Man of Music in 1988, Kappa Kappa Psi's National Service to Music Award, Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Clinic's Medal of Honor in 1993, and Past President of the American Bandmasters Association. In 1975 Dr. McBeth was appointed Composer Laureate of the State of Arkansas by the Governor. </li></ul>
<ul><li>"Really, I am doing the very same thing - except I am not grading papers," McBeth said with a laugh. </li></ul><ul><li>For the past 40 years or so, McBeth had three jobs: music professor, composer and conductor. When he retired from OBU, he narrowed those down to two - either of which would be a full-time job for most folks. </li></ul><ul><li>"When I retired, it gave me more chance to do the 'middle-of-the-week' engagements than I had had before," he said. </li></ul><ul><li>McBeth, 70, of Arkadelphia retired as a Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) music professor in 1996 after 40 years of teaching conducting, theory and other applied musical arts. In the seven years since he graded his last paper at OBU, he has traveled from coast to coast and around the world composing concert band music and conducting the premieres of his musical works. </li></ul><ul><li>"All of the university and professional groups work in the middle of the week. They don't really work on the weekends," he said. "It opened up a whole other field for me. Since I have retired, I have been traveling more and conducting more - and writing a lot more. So, it's really just the same thing but retirement gave me more time to do it." </li></ul>