Broadway Scam Centers Around Soprano Kathleen Battle

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - 05:15 PM

Soprano Kathleen Battle. Soprano Kathleen Battle was the subject of a fake Broadway production used to steal $165.000 from investors. (Courtesy of CAMI)

Kathleen Battle is preparing a long-awaited return to the Metropolitan Opera this November, but a fraudulent Broadway project has her in the headlines right now.

The soprano’s name is at the center of a scam that reports are comparing to another Broadway production, The Producers. Talent agent Roland Scahill raised approximately $165,000 for a one-woman show about the falling out between Battle and the Metropolitan Opera. Scahill had told his investors that he secured the rights for the story from Battle and claimed that Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o was on board to portray the beleaguered singer.

Investors were tipped off to the hoax when it was announced that Nyong’o would be starring on Broadway in Eclipsed, a play about an enslaved woman in Liberia, a far cry from the backstage antics at the gilded Met.

According to prosecutors, neither one of the women had knowledge of “The KB Project,” nor did the Schubert Organization, the operator of the theater where Scahill said he would stage the play. A representative for Battle did not respond to a request for comment.

Instead, the money from seven investors, went to pay off Scahill's credit card debt, rent, food, alcohol and entertainment, according to reports. The largest bulk, $129,000, went into a depleted investment account.

The play was supposed to take place on the day that Battle was unceremoniously banned from the Met. In February 1994, then director Joseph Volpe fired the soprano for what he called “unprofessional actions” during rehearsals for La Fille du Regiment.

Battle's exile from that stage will end on Nov. 13 with the presentation of her solo recital: “Kathleen Battle: Underground Railroad — A Spiritual Journey." 

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Comments [11]

That's a pretty gutsy scam, right in-your-face!. Bit I think it's time to recognize that there is a distinction between the Metropolitan Opera Company and the Metropolitan Opera House. Ms.Battle may be returning to the House, but not to the Company.
Susaan Tares

Sep. 05 2016 10:20 AM
John Greene from Martinez, GA

Something can't be "centered around." It can revolve around or center upon, in, or on.

Aug. 28 2016 12:01 AM
Kathleen Provost

I heard that "the straw that broke the camel's back" was that she pitched a fit because people were allowed at the dress rehearsal. Of course the stories about her are legion. My favorite was the time she allegedly called her management in NYC to tell them to call her driver and tell him to turn up the temp in her limo. Truly she has the voice of an angel but apparently behaves like one of Satan's minions.

Aug. 27 2016 07:09 PM
Robby Bonfire from Port Leyden, NY

It's simple: "Your attitude is your life." Those who grasp this concept develop social skills, those who do not, fall by the wayside, whatever their other innate abilities.

The "Four Ducks In A Row," as I like to call them...

1. Exhibit a good attitude toward life and people.
2. Develop social skills.
3. Demonstrate a good work ethic.
4. Always be honest and trustworthy in your personal and business dealings.

Aug. 27 2016 01:18 PM
Donna from Manhattan

I saw and heard Kathleen Battle perform on television many years ago, I've heard her over the years on WQXR, and I have one of her glorious albums. She both looks and sings like an angel. I've always thought it was a great loss to the music world that she has been unable to subordinate her personality quirks (whatever they may be) to the great gift of her instrument. I would love if she could make a comeback!

Aug. 26 2016 06:22 PM
Mike from Olney, MD

About 20 years ago I attended a Kathleen Battle concert at the Kennedy Center. She had just started her first song when the phone of someone seated in the 10th row started ringing, and he couldn't stop it for about a minute or so. Ms. Battle stopped singing. Being aware of her reputation I was waiting for whatever....... She gave the patron a benign smile and resumed the concert. Very classy.

Aug. 26 2016 04:16 PM
John J. Christiano from Franklin NJ

My concern is, now that such a new type of scam has been attempted, another will be tried as something worth trying. Perhaps over the marital infidelities of a deceased tenor?

Aug. 26 2016 12:44 PM
Shepsl Topaz from Queens, NY

Considerable talent aside, over the years the many reports of Battle's childish, prima donna behavior was more like that of the raging tantrums from the spoiled, tiny princesses of "Toddlers and Tiaras" than of a mature adult. It remains to be seen whether she has accepted her own responsibility for her absence. As noted in a 1995 review of her performance at the Ravinia festival entitled "Battle Fatigue": "Kathleen Battle is the most universally despised individual in the world of classical music, transcending all lines of gender, ethnicity, and nationality. To know her is to loathe her, and virtually everyone whose professional life has intersected with hers, from the humblest dresser and elevator operator to the loftiest of opera stars and impresarios, has a horror story to tell." The reviewer went on to note that Battle presents an entirely different picture of lovey-dovey sweetness and pecks on the cheek to adoring fans. It all sounds like the operatic version of "The Three Faces of Eve." I just can't imagine what the third face must be like!

Aug. 25 2016 11:42 PM
Y.D. Jordan from Los Angeles, CA

Kathleen Battle. You can't go home after such a long time. What a publicity stunt. I guess te Met needs to sellell a lot of tix

Aug. 25 2016 09:05 PM
Roger J Grimsby from Lawng Island

All I remember is that PBS special with Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman. It was a stunningly delightful concert.

Aug. 25 2016 03:29 PM
Floria from NYC

I believe the rehearsal she was fired from was "Die Rosenkavelier" and for very unprofessional behavior. She exhibited unprofessional behavior at quite a few performances and rehearsals before that, raising the ire of fellow performers and management, but the Rosenkavelier was the "straw that broke the camel's back."

Aug. 25 2016 10:39 AM

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