We join the world of opera in mourning soprano Kristine Ciesinski, a remarkable singer and teacher whose career came to a tragic end in a glider accident in June 2018. After winning the Gold Medal in the Geneva International Competition, first place in the Salzburg International Competition, and reaching the finals of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, all in the same season of 1977-78, Ciesinski sang in most of the world’s major houses over the next thirty years. Although she specialized in twentieth-century classics such as Salome, The Makropoulos Case, and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, at one time or another she sang in productions of nearly all the major repertory from Mozart and Beethoven onward. Early in her career, she performed and worked with contemporary American composers Ned Rorem and Lee Hoiby. In 1989, Ciesinski had the unusual distinction of singing Anna Maurrant in Weill’s Street Scene under two different conductors–John Mauceri and Carl Davis–in the same season, when she took the role for a co-production of Scottish Opera and English National Opera. She may be heard in the English National Opera cast recording (conducted by Davis) released on TER (CDTER2 1173). Another Weill connection: in the 1970s, she studied with Todd Duncan, who created the role of Stephen Kumalo in Lost in the Stars (1949).
Ciesinski’s devotion to her career as opera singer, recitalist, and teacher did not keep her from cultivating her passion for aviation; she was a trained pilot who loved flying over the Grand Teton Mountains. She is survived by her husband Norman Bailey and her sister Katherine, both distinguished vocalists.