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Article Published: 16 Oct 2021

In Memoriam: Fall 2021

At press time, we received the sad news of the death of composer and librettist Carlisle Floyd. A full obituary will appear in our Winter 2022 issue.

The Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, one of the founders of the avant-garde Hague school of composition, died on July 1 at age 82. His vast output included La Commedia, winner of the 2011 Grawemeyer Award for Music composition. In 2006, Long Beach Opera mounted his 1991 M is for Man, Music, Mozart.

Carmen Balthrop

Soprano Carmen Balthrop died on September 5 at age 73. In 1975, after winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, she went on to star in Houston Grand Opera’s stage premiere of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, a production that moved on to Broadway. She later sang with the Met, Baltimore Opera, Washington Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Canadian Opera Company. At the time of her death, Balthrop was a professor of voice and opera at her alma mater, University of Maryland School of Music, where she taught for 35 years.

Edward Berkeley, the Aspen Music Festival and School’s opera program director, died on July 17 at age 76. Berkeley was in his 40th season on faculty of the festival, where he mentored generations of artists and directed productions each summer. He was also the founding artistic director of New York City’s Willow Cabin Theater Company and a longtime faculty member of The Juilliard School.

Linguist and diction coach Robert Cowart died on July 17 at age 82. Cowart was director of language studies for the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Program, starting with its 1981 inception. He also taught at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Mannes College of Music.

Giuseppe Giacomini

The Italian tenor Giuseppe Giacomini died on September 7 at age 80. After establishing a career at Europe’s major houses, Giacomini made his Met debut in 1976 as Don Alvaro in La forza del destino and went on to sing 87 performances with the company. He also appeared at San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, and Houston Grand Opera.

Jean-Claude van Itallie, the Belgian-born author of more than 30 plays, died on September 9 at age 85. He wrote the libretto for Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 1996.

Jean Kraft

The mezzo-soprano Jean Kraft died on July 15 at age 84. As a comprimaria at the Met, she sang 784 performances in the 1970s and 1980s. She also appeared at The Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera,m and Tulsa Opera, and enjoyed a more than three-decade relationship with The Santa Fe Opera, where she appeared in leading roles in the U.S. premieres of Penderecki’s Devils of Loudon (1969), Menotti’s Help, Help, The Globolinks! (1970), Britten’s Owen Wingrave (1973), and Strauss’ Intermezzo (1984), among others.

Michael Morgan

The conductor Michael Morgan, former music and artistic director of Festival Opera, died on August 20 at age 63. Morgan made guest appearances with the top orchestras of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere, but his artistic home was the San Francisco Bay Area, where from 1991 he served as music director of the Oakland Symphony. He joined Festival Opera in 1995 as an advisor, becoming artistic director in 1997.

The soprano Sarah Payne, company manager at Florida Grand Opera, died in late July. Payne was a member of FGO Studio from 2015 to 2017 and joined the administrative staff of the company in 2020, working in marketing and development before being appointed to her latest role this spring.

Donald Pippin, founding artistic director of Pocket Opera, died on July 7 at age 95. A pianist by training, Pippin established Pocket Opera in San Francisco in 1977 with the mission of presenting low-cost productions of operas in English, featuring local artists. He led the company for more than four decades until his retirement in 2018. From 2007 to 2009, Pippin published four volumes of the English-language librettos he had crafted over the course of his career.

The British director Graham Vick, known in Europe and the U.S. for his experimental stagings of standard repertoire and contemporary works, died on July 17 at age 67. Vick directed productions at the Metropolitan Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera. At the time of his death, he was artistic director director of Britain’s Birmingham Opera Company, which he founded in 1987.

Gil Wechsler, the Metropolitan Opera’s first resident lighting director, died on July 9 at age 79. From 1977 to 1996, Wechsler lit 112 Met productions while also enjoying an international career as a lighting designer for opera and ballet.

The Polish soprano Teresa Zylis-Gara died on August 28 at age 91. Following successes at the Glyndebourne Festival and Paris Opera in the mid-1960s, Zylis-Gara made her American debut at San Francisco Opera in 1968. She joined the Met later that same year, singing with the company through the mid-1980s in 20 roles and 232 performances.