Monday, March 27, 2006
It never occurred to me that Sarah Caldwell would die and I doubt it occurred to her either.
Die she did, last week at her home in Maine, age 82.
Sarah was the first woman to conduct at the Metropolitan Opera (1975).
She was the founder and artistic director of the Opera Company of Boston (1958-1990).
She had no theatre to call her own. She staged operas in hockey rinks, in a cyclorama building in a seedy part of Boston, she staged operas in an outdoor flower market, and later made do with an abandoned movie house with sticky floors and you don't want to know the rest.
Sarah gave the American premiere of Verdi's five act french version of Don Carlos, complete with-lamentable-ballet-and you weren't in a theater on the edge of Boston's combat zone, you were in Imperial Spain five hundred years ago, a dangerous place ruled by an unforgiving church.
How did she do all this? As to assembling the actual productions I don't know.
She only rehearsed at night, leaving off at around 6 a.m. She lived on coffee, donuts and burgers and had the 300 lb girth to show for it.
Her stage directions were simple and clear. Her rehearsal techniques were a disaster and her administrative gifts non existent. Boston Edison shut the power off before more than one opening night, but on would go the lights and somehow, magic happened. It really was a miracle.
I'm glad I no longer have to work for her. I'm sorry the company self destructed and closed in 1990.
When it was great it was great.
Sarah 's up moving around the clouds in heaven and probably dodging her creditors, God bless her.