Sad news: One of ‘Three Sopranos’ has died, aged 58

Sad news: One of ‘Three Sopranos’ has died, aged 58


norman lebrecht

April 14, 2017

Opera de Marseille has announced the death, aged 58, of the American soprano Kathleen Cassello.

Originally from Delaware, Kathleen became a stalwart on the Italian and French opera circuits after winning the 1985 Salzburg Mozart competition.

Her greatest renown came in 1997 when the impresario Tibor Rudas picked her as one of Three Sopranos, a feminine counterweight to his phenomenally successful Three Tenors.



But although they toured twice with Pavarotti, the Three Sopranos – the other two were Kallen Esperian and Cynthia Lawrence – never quite stormed the ramparts in the same way.

Her early death, on April 12, has cast a pall over the opera world. She was a fine performer and good colleague.


  • Ungeheuer says:

    I am of course saddened to learn of her premature death, as I would be of anyone’s, but how exactly has her passing “cast a pall over the opera world”?

    • Evan Bowers says:

      An unkind comment. Those of us who have been in the business longer than 10 years knew her, sang with her, know her husband and are indeed very sad at her passing. This opera business is a family, and she will be missed.

      • Beth in Salzburg says:

        Well stated Evan. I “knew her when” — both before and after Kath became an opera singer, and this colleague has to go onstage tonight knowing that my friend is no longer of this world. 🙁

    • Nancy says:

      Unkind comment ….very unnecessary. what was the point ??

  • Jim Utz says:

    To Ungeheurer – your moniker is certainly well chosen – German for “monster.”. Although I have not worked with Kathleen for many years, I look back fondly on the time we did work together, and this news is saddening. Your comments on this site really cross the line quite often. I suppose that is your intent and they often cast a pall over the opera world.

    • James says:

      Yes, what to make of the poor wretch. Prehaps an unbalanced mind?
      A low character consumed by envy? A plain old silly billy who doesn’t
      know how to behave? A standard issue internet grotesque?
      Whatever ails him, or her, tis best to pay the antics no mind. They don’t matter.

  • AMetFan says:

    I’ve given up on attempting to reply to Ungeheuer’s hateful comments. He is beyond redemption. The best thing for everyone to do is to ignore him. He will eventually slither back under his rock. Yes, the opera world is in mourning for one of its own. Heartfelt condolences to Kathleen’s family and a fond farewell to an outstanding person.

  • Mark says:

    So proud of her here in her home town (Wilmington, Delaware) and saddened by her passing.

  • Nick says:

    I really think it is unfair to the artiste to say that her “greatest renown” came with the Three Sopranos. Excellent singers though all three were and are, this was a gimmick purely to capitalise on the success of the 3 Tenors bandwagon. Rudas had assumed that the title itself would ‘sell’ the concerts and put them into medium-sized arenas, but the ‘show’ largely bombed and quite quickly died.

  • Ungeheuer says:

    My earlier comment wasn’t meant to be a sideswipe but an honest inquiry since Cassello was not a household name, not close, nor someone we go to for musical reference. However, my timing was off and I recognize it. And for this, I sincerely apologize to any friends or family of the singer here. No harm meant. May she rest in peace.

    • Beth in Salzburg says:

      Thank you. No harm, no foul. All the best to you.

      • Gail Morris says:

        I’m shocked-I just found out over a year after her death-she lived across the road from me as a teenager!! What happened-what did she die of? My condolences to her family and friends.

    • Tedin NY says:

      How many opera singers are “household names”? I met several people lately at the MET in NY who had never heard of Caruso! Or Callas! (Or Mario Lanza).
      If you are not in the “business”, how many working sopranos can you name? Maybe 20 out of the thousands slogging away out there?
      Singers get to be household names if they have pushy agents who get them prime gigs like starring roles in opening night at La Scala or the MET, etc. and then keep getting flashy assignments, great reviews and recording contracts and TV appearances. It requires luck more than anything else, although talent is a sine quae non. But talent is ALWAYS a sine quae non for a professional opera singer!
      In Kathleen’s case she sang beautifully and successfully, giving pleasure to audiences and colleagues alike for many years, but only became “World Famous” when she was picked to be one of the “Three Sopranos” which involved a few concerts over a couple of years and was incidental to her long career, though probably a highlight.
      Most singers – even greatly talented and alluring singers – slog on, year after year, in many roles, some that suit them more than others. They also have to sing under all kinds of health conditions (they can never really count on being over 60%). Unless hey are “household names” they also have to obey the conductor in musical matters and the director in stage matters which cannot help but camouflage their own proclivities.
      But the most congenial ones, like the late, great Kathleen Cossello, leave a trail of kind feelings – not to say love – in their wake.
      Anybody who worked with her over the course of her career or who was in the audience when she sang or who heard her on TV or DVD or even on YouTube, will be sad and shocked, like I was, that she passed away at such a young age.
      I recommend you explore on YouTube the Traviata at Orange that she sang opposite Roberto Alagna and ask you if you’re not sad that we’ve lost her.

  • Robert says:

    I followed her on Facebook, this sadden me so much! Perhaps for some people she wasn’t a household name, but for me there is almost no better rendition of Sempre Libera that hers! Her voice was pure velvet amazingness. She will be dearly and deeply missed. May God give your family dear Kathleen the peace they need and give you the rest you deserve.

    A very loving fan.

  • SENDRA ALAIN says:

    Quelle merveille dans les Puritains, Lucia et la Traviata avec le jeune ténor R.Alagna à Orange et son 1er Rigoletto à Marseille remplacée au pied levé par Inva Mula ( quelle surprise ce jour là et ^pas des moindres !!!!belle remplaçante!!!
    inoubliable à la Vieille Charité à Marseille deux été de suite: à renouveller si possible
    Elle nous a enchantés !!!! merci Kathleen pour ces merveilleux momenst restés flottants
    dans l’air comme un nuage diaphane !et encore mille bravo à elle

  • Katfran says:

    Kathleen était mon amie la plus chère presque une sœur
    Elle me manque encore terriblement aujourd’hui
    Elle était pour moi incomparable
    J’ai fais ça connaissance en 1993 alors qu’elle chantait traviata à oranges
    Son métier a fait que ns ne nous voyons pas souvent et je le regrette beaucoup
    Cependant les rares moments entre nous étaient magiques