Awful news: International soprano is killed in glider crash

Awful news: International soprano is killed in glider crash


norman lebrecht

June 10, 2018

The soprano Kristine Ciesinski has been identified as the pilot of  glider that crashed yesterday in Grand Teton National Park.

Kristine was 65.

The name of the other casualty has not yet been released. Kristine was named as pilot of the glider.

Kristine sang at most major houses. Her roles included Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk’ (Katerina) at La Scala, Paris Opera Bastille, Frankfurt Staatsoper; ‘Salome’ (18 productions) including Munich, Dresden, ENO (English National Opera) in London, Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, San Diego Opera, Canadian Opera company, Toronto; ‘Wozzeck’ (Marie) in Frankfurt, Bonn, Hamburg, ENO, Buenos Aires Teatro Colon; the double bill ‘Bluebeards Castle/Erwarturg’in Leipzig and Basel; Bluebeard’s Castle in Tokyo; Verdi’s ‘Macbeth’ (Lady Macbeth) at the Festival de Vichy, at ENO in London, the ENO tour to the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the Marinsky Theater in St. Petersburg and in the prize winning (Bayerische Theaterpreis) production in Bremen; and Janacek’s ‘Makropulos Case’ (Emilia Marty) at the Glyndebourne Festival, at La Monnaie in Brussels, the Statsopera in Hamburg, at the Maastrict Opera, Netherlands and at the Netherlands National Opera in Amsterdam.

Married to the British bass-baritone Norman Bailey, she lived in the UK for many years before moving to the Teton mountains.

UPDATE: Her brother-in-law, the conductor Mark Powell, writes:

It is my sad task to inform you all that Katherine’s sister, Kristine, was killed yesterday in a glider crash just inside the south boundary of the Grand Teton National Park. The helicopter pilot who located the wreckage noted a detached, inverted wing, so the questions will compound for some time. Kris was a twenty year flight veteran, a flight instructor, and a Civil Air Patrol captain, in addition to one of the finest Salome’s I’ve ever heard.

We are overwhelmed with the love and condolences coming in from, quite literally, everywhere and I cannot assemble words adequate to thank you all. Please know that we, all of us, appreciate your thoughts. It has been an horrendous fourteen hours.


  • Caravaggio says:

    Too bad. Awful indeed. RIP.

  • Logan Pierce says:

    I had the honor and privilege of studying under Kristine for some time. She was a remarkable woman who loved her students and refused to let them leave her lessons until they had made a noticeable improvement. She’ll be greatly missed.

  • Zalman says:

    She was one of the most-frequently performing concert singers in Manhattan in the 1980s, along with her sister. She could have lived year-round in a dressing room at Merkin Concert Hall.

  • Bruce Mason says:

    As a friend and neighbor of Kris’s here in tiny Teton Valley, Idaho where she was living, I can report that the community is in shock. Kris was a cornerstone of this community, always eager to perform beautifully for local events and shows. As a pilot she introduced many people to the beauty of the Tetons in a way they never could have experienced without her. She provided service to the community as Commander of the Civil Air Patrol for a time as well. It will be hard to imagine this small, close knit community without her in it.

  • Brettermeier says:

    That’s just sad, my condolences.

  • Mark Coassolo says:

    RIP….I remember Kristine from the time we were students at University of Delaware in the early 1970s. She was a superstar and I was just a very new baby tenor. Sorry about her death and I was reminiscing a couple of weeks ago and noticed about her love of flying. She had a double threat in life, singing opera and flying. Hoping we all get to go as we loved to do. RIP Kristine

  • Angie Leavitt says:

    My son had the wonderful opportunity to take a few vocal lessons from Kris and to be directed by her in a university opera performance. She touched his life and we are all heartbroken.
    We are so sorry for your enormous loss.

  • Linda May says:

    I feel so blessed to have known Kristine. She was an amazing, talented and inspiring woman with a beautiful soul and I’m so sad she has left us. Rest In Peace Dear Friend.My condolences to her family and friends.

  • Michael Sidello says:

    I’m crushed after reading the in the newspaper early this morning that my glider pilot, Kristine Ciesinski was killed in a crash in the Tetons this past Saturday. I Loved that Lady.
    Following is a communication that she and I had on Facebook last year:
    Michael Sidello – At about 2pm, on the last day or two of August, in 2013, which was also the last day of my two week vacation in Driggs, the smoke cleared just long enough for me to book a long-dreamed-of glider flight. I had been trying to do it since the beginning of my stay, but the smoke wouldn’t relinquish its grip on the sky until then. Shortly after releasing from the tow plane, you asked if my stomach was doing OK. I responded that I’d just finished a whole trout and big mound of garlic mashed potatoes. There was a pause on your end until I told you that I have an iron stomach and there was no need for you to worry. I think you asked something like “Do you want to have some fun?”. When I responded in the affirmative, you proceeded into some nice banking turns and swooping down to points like the top of Targhee. An eagle came towards us off our right wing tip as we were approaching Grand Teton. That shot is in my collection of photos I snapped during the flight but unfortunately, the camera I had borrowed was set to a low resolution. However, you can still make out the wingspan and shape of the eagle and I love the photo. If you’d like to have the shots I took that day, let me know and how to e-mail them or mail a USB drive with them to you. The experience was even better than I had imagined and I’ve vowed to repeat it with you earlier in the year when there’s more snow and green in the Tetons. Unfortunately, an abundance of business ( both blessing and curse ) has kept me from doing so. It’s still in my plans, though. After the flight, I was speaking with you at the Aviation Center counter. I was enjoying the conversation very much as you told me about your opera career, traveling the world and falling in love with the Tetons and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, my brother-in-law was driving and grew,impatient, cutting the stories short. I live in South Florida, just North of Ft. Lauderdale and was visiting my sister and her husband, who spend late May through September in a 2nd home they own on Ski Hill Rd., just before the Wyoming border. They hike The Tetons, float the Teton River, fish, bike and do whatever they want. Detect a note of envy on my part? I fell IN LOVE with The Tetons upon landing in Jackson for the first time back then in 2013. With each day, it only grew stronger. On the 3rd day, we hiked to the plateau above Devil’s Stairs and I thought it a perfect place to have my ashes scattered in the future. The Teton area is my favorite place in the world and I’m hoping to spend much more time there in the future as my retirement approaches in, hopefully a few years but an absolute maximum of just under 7. By the way, during our flight, you told me of PBS filming you for a possible documentary about gliding. I kept checking the internet for it and had just about given up hope when Cloudstreet : Soaring The American West was released about 2 years later. I immediately purchased 2 copies- one for myself and one to pass around to friends and family. In typical PBS fashion, it’s very well produced and extremely informative, along with just being so damned beautiful and inspirational. I do wish that I lived in The Tetons!

    Kristine Ciesinski
    Kristine Ciesinski – Wow Michael so great to be reminded of our flight….yes please mail me the photos…… just inspried me for my next video…..I am OFTEN asked why I live in the Tetons…well like you, it was love at first sight…I came there is 1977 as I was invited to perform with the Grand Teton Music Festival….(my sister and I actually sang Cosi fan tutte-Mozart- with that fabulous orcherstra)….and I fell in LOVE with the place….we drove out from the East and I remember being mesmerized by the mountains from afar and could not stop snapping photos all the way to Teton Villiage….I also married the (then) concert master of that orchestr….sadly Bill passed away in 1984….and his ashes ARE in those mountains. I have strewn ashes in these mountains from my plane on a number of occasions….
    FINALLY in 1995 my present husband and I moved to Victor…we ownd a home there which we expected to rent out, but we LOVED being there so much—we literally spent HOURS a day just looking out our windows at the Mountains and the birds….so we decided to make out pernanent home there…and HAVE never been sorry!! SO I HOPE to see you again soon when we can fly again and I also hope to call you NEiGHBOR as well….I am hoping also that you are ok from the recent hurricanes….
    MY very best to you and wonderful to reconnect!! Fondly, KRIS

  • Louis Lebherz says:

    So very sorry this. I sang many times with Christine. She was a lovely singer and wonderful colleague. May she Rest In Peace.

  • Hanli Stapela says:

    Kris was not only an inspiring performer, but also an exceptionally intelligent and kind mensch with a huge heart. RIP my friend.

  • Laurie Barron says:

    Still in shock from news of this tragedy. I have such fond memories of Kris & Kathy, “Les Soeurs Ciesinski” from our years together in Temple University College of Music (now Boyer COM), touring with Concert Choir with Bob Page. She was one of the loveliest people, inside and out. My deepest condolences to Kathy, the rest of her family and all the communities she touched in her life.

  • Robin Weisel-Capsouto says:

    My deepest condolences to Katherine and all or your family.

  • Gloria Sebring says:

    Dear Norman, Dale and I send our sincere regrets upon hearing of Kristine’s accident. Please know that our prayers are with you. May the Lord bless and comfort you in this hour of greaving. We know she has returned to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. Gloria and Dale Sebring

  • Rachelle Goldberg says:

    I was terribly saddened on learning of the tragic accident and the passing of Kristine Ciesinski. I met her in 1977 in Salzburg. I was leading the International Summer Academy Orchestra of the Mozarteum when she won the City of Salzburg’ s International Competition Sangerforderung Preis. She had a wonderful voice and an outstanding personality. When I saw her photo I immediately connected. I send my deepest condolences to the family, relatives and friends. Co-incidentally this lunchtime I heard an extract from Gounod’s Sapho as part of Donald McCleod’s Composer of the week. Sapho’s part was sung by her sister Katherine.

  • Sherrie Foist says:

    Kris was one of the most thoughtful and brillant people on this earth. She took my son, Noah, under her wing and gave his voice a way to soar. She truly cared about him and He was honored to be asked to sing on Saturday. And was devastated to learn of her passing after the performance.
    We only had Kris in our lives for a short time but we’re blessed to be apart of hers while we did. We love you Kris! Condolences to the family!

  • Jane Livingston says:

    I was shocked and saddened to hear this tragic news. As Press Officer at ENO, where she was a regular guest, I accompanied the Company on its 1990 tour of Russia, where Kris sang a superb Lady Macbeth in Moscow and St Petersburg. She was a joy to work with and such a warm human being. Huge condolences to her husband, family and friends on a devastating loss.

  • Loryn Troyer says:

    Kris helped me with so much. She was such a wonderful, thoughtful person and she was so talented. Taking lessons from her was one of my smartest decisions. She taught me so many things and I can’t explain how thankful I am to have known her. I will miss you her dearly.

  • Brian Morr says:

    I heard the news today about Kris and am shocked beyond belief. 2018 has already been a year of incredible loss; first my wife, an uncle and various friends and now to hear of Kris’ death in a crash is indescribable. I have known her since our first glider flight in 2003 when we discovered that we had actually first met in 1981 when she lived in Purley (London) with Norman. I had not actually seen her for maybe three years but did speak to her a few weeks ago with the hope that my daughter and I could meet her next time we were in Jackson Hole. My deep condolences to Norman and her family – I don’t know what else to say