Caldwell, Sarah (1924-2006)
NOTE: All or part of this collection is stored off-site. Several days' advance notice is required for retrieval.

The Caldwell collection consists of correspondence, professional material, printed material, musical scores, manuscripts, audio material, film and video, photographs, memorabilia, financial material, legal material, and artwork.


The Sarah Caldwell papers not only provide insight into her personal life, family, and friendships, but also serve as a complete record of the Opera Company of Boston over the course of its existence. 

Correspondence in the collection is extensive.  The letters date from 1948 to 2000, and include both personal and professional correspondence.  Most of the professional correspondence pertains to the Opera Company of Boston, including letters to and from various musicians, costume and stage designers, staff, patrons, benefactors, charitable organizations, and others.  Notable musicians and theatre figures represented in the correspondence include Carmine Coppola, Philip Gossett, Martin Kalmanoff, John La Montaine, Leonard Lehrman, Brock McElheran, Kent Nagano, Vincent Persichetti, Eve Queler, Peter Sellars, Beverly Sills, John Harbison, Marni Nixon, Robert Lawson Shaw, Margaret Yauger, Rudolph Bing, Victor Alessandro, Shirley Verrett, George London, Anna Moffo, Ursula Mamlok, Julia Perry, Glynn Ross, Gerard Hoffnung, Osbourne McConathy, Igor Stravinsky, Boris Christoff, Arlene Saunders, Morton Gould, Carole Bogard, Phyllis Curtin, Lorna Cooke DeVaron, Thea Musgrave, Joan Sutherland, and Eugene Zador.  Other notable correspondents include Edward Brooke, F. Bradford Morse, Nathan M. Pusey, Derek Bok, James Lipton, David Rockefeller, Jr., Francis W. Sargent, John Silber, Kevin White, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Teresa Heinz, Richard Leacock, Mikhail Gorbachev, Richard M. Nixon, Vera Stravinsky, Sam Wanamaker, Jerome B. Wiesner, Gloria Steinem, Leo Lerman, James A. Michener, Leverett Saltonstall, and Lady Bird Johnson.  In addition, there are numerous letters interfiled with Caldwell’s professional, legal, and financial papers.

Professional material in the collection includes Caldwell’s “production files.”  These are documents that Caldwell utilized in the course of her various productions, including scores, schedules, scripts, casting lists, staging notes, calendars, blueprints, audio recordings, costume designs, cues, prop lists, and other items.  Productions include Verdi’s Aida, Don Carlos, Falstaff, Macbeth, Rigoletto, Stiffelio, Il Trovatore, and La Traviata; Rossini’s Barber of Seville; Puccini’s La Boheme, Girl of the Golden West, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, and Turandot; Bernstein’s Candide and Mass; Bizet’s Carmen; Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute; Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust; Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment and Don Pasquale; Rodion Schchedrin’s Dead Souls; Massenet’s Don Quichotte; Gounod’s Faust; Beethoven’s Fidelio; Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus; Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman; Weber’s Freischutz; Robert Kurka’s Good Soldier Schweik; Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel; Tippett’s Ice Break; Henze’s The Young Lord; Rimsky-Korsakov’s Legend of the Invisible City of Kietezh; Berg’s Lulu; Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and Threepenny Opera; Janacek’s The Makropolous Case; De Falla’s Master Peter’s Puppet Theatre; Cherubini’s Medea; Sessions’ Montezuma; Schoenberg’s Moses and Aaron; Monteverdi’s Orfeo; Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande; Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier; Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila; Bernd Alios Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten; Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman and Voyage to the Moon; Scarlatti’s Triumph of Honor; Heinrich Marschner’s Vampyr; and Prokofiev’s War and Peace
Also present are materials pertaining to Caldwell’s work in ancient Chinese music, and for the pioneering 1988 joint American-Russian music festival “Making Music Together.”  Particularly notable is the material for The Makropolous Case, Macbeth, and Mahagonny, three of the Opera Company of Boston’s most acclaimed performances, as well as the material for Voyage to the Moon, the OCB’s first production, staged on Boston Common.

In addition to the production files, the professional material includes numerous subject files.  These files consist of correspondence, memos, contracts, programs, newspaper clippings, photographs, legal material, and other items, all organized by topic.  Prominent subjects include the American National Opera Company; Opera New England (the touring arm of the OCB); the Boston Opera House, grants and foundations, fund raising, loans, auditions, OCB musicians and staff, and several productions, including Die Fledermaus, The Barber of Seville, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Montezuma, Der Rosenkavalier, Die Soldaten, Tosca, Moses and Aaron, and War and Peace.  Other professional material includes press releases, press kits, and other publicity items; casting and audition material; schedules and itineraries; contracts; reports, proposals, agendas, and board meeting minutes; job applications; day planners; staging material (including photos, lighting designs, blueprints, and set designs); several notebooks (1972-1993); and material pertaining to the history of OCB, among other materials.

Printed material in the collection includes programs for productions by the Opera Company of Boston, from the 1950s through the 1990s; programs from other productions; various magazines, including several issues of Opera News from 1942 to 1943; several files of articles, clippings, and reviews regarding Caldwell and the OCB; files on Caldwell’s life and her memorial; and various brochures, pamphlets, newsletters, opera study guides, and posters, including several posters for the “Making Music Together” festival, among other materials.

Musical scores in the collection are too numerous to list in full.  They primarily pertain to productions put on by the Opera Company of Boston, but they also include scores for pieces given to Caldwell by various composers and/or musicians who were friends of hers.  These include scores for pieces by Robert Di Domenica, Thea Musgrave, Julia Perry, and Gunther Schuller.  Many titles are present in various editions, and several have annotations by Caldwell.  Notable titles include Ralph Vaughn Williams’s Riders to the Sea, the piece that was Caldwell’s first production, staged at Tanglewood (the score includes some production material); Alfred Schnittke’s Life of an Idiot, a piece Caldwell conducted at its world premiere in Amsterdam; Leonard Bernstein’s Mass (Bernstein felt that Caldwell’s production of the piece was the best ever done); and musical scores of Chinese music, for the World Center for Ancient Asian and Mid-Eastern Music Preservation (an organization founded by Caldwell at the University of Arkansas to transcribe, perform, and preserve ancient music).  A significant portion of the scores pertain to the “Making Music Together” festival; these include works by Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina, Giya Kancheli, Rodion Shchedrin, and others.

Manuscripts in the collection include several libretti and lyrics for various operas, many in English translation; writings by Caldwell, including “An Opera About Opera: A Proposed Television Program for Young People” (1978); drafts of texts for the Opera Company of Boston, including program notes, synopses, press releases, and advertisements; and various other items. There is also a manuscript for “The Journey’s End,” a musical piece by Morton Feldman, in his own hand.

Audio material in the collection consists of over one thousand recordings, in various formats.  The recordings are mainly of productions by the Opera Company of Boston productions, but some other pieces are present as well. 


Film and video recordings are similar to those in audio material, consisting of over 200 tapes of various performances.

Photographs in the collection include numerous prints pertaining to Opera Company of Boston productions, dating from 1959 through the 1970s.  There are also many personal photos of Caldwell and her family and friends.  Prominent individuals represented include Joan Sutherland, Placido Domingo, John Volpe, Beverly Sills, Anna Moffo, Victor Borge, Edward Brooke, John Collins, Peter Maxwell Davies, Gerald and Betty Ford, Francis Sargent, Igor Stravinsky, Jimmy Carter, Gloria Steinem, Sarah Bernhardt, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.  Other photos of note include Caldwell conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Caldwell’s trips to China, Russia, and Israel.

Memorabilia in the collection includes several honorary degrees bestowed on Caldwell; various awards, certificates, and plaques; Caldwell’s mother’s baby book; several scrapbooks; and other miscellaneous items.

Financial material in the collection pertains to the finances of the Opera Company of Boston.  There is a large volume of material, including budgets, accounts, bank statements, check stubs, proposals, receipts, expense reports, ledgers, audits, bills, tax records, employment and payroll records, and subscription and fundraising documents.  There are also several items regarding repairs and renovations to the Boston Opera House, as well as some material regarding Caldwell’s personal finances.

Legal material in the collection, like the financial material, primarily pertains to the Opera Company of Boston.  The material includes contracts, grant applications, visa applications, affidavits, and several items regarding various lawsuits the OCB was involved in.  There are some items regarding Caldwell’s personal affairs.

Artwork in the collection includes a painting by Robert Di Domenica (a portrait of his son); a pencil drawing of Caldwell, by an unknown artist; and various other items.  In addition, costume and scenery designs are interfiled with the professional material, musical scores, and photographs in the collection.

Notable Figures
1. Caldwell, Sarah, 1924-2006
Associated Subjects
1. Women's Studies Collections -- Music and Dance Subject Guide
2. Music Collections Subject Guide
3. Opera Subject Guide
4. Helen Deutsch Research Section