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It is with great
sadness that we report that Katherine Brazaitis died
on May 15th in a traffic accident in Ada, Oklahoma, her hometown.
Katherine was a truly special person and she will be very much missed by all who knew her.
in the San Francisco Chronicle can be read here.
A Gallery of Photos
Tributes to Katherine
came as a terrible shock to hear that Katherine Brazaitis had been killed
in an auto accident.
What shocking news. Katherine and I shared many stages, the many Bohèmes, multiple Rigolettos, from the early '80s on and it will be very hard on all of us Supers not to have her there in person. I know she will be there in spirit. Katherine was a commited Super on stage and off, and a lovely person.
are all saddened by the sudden and unexpected death of our dear friend
Katherine Brazaitis. She was the best friend you could imagine, with such
a positive outlook on life and always upbeat. Dressing Room 8 at the opera
house will never be the same and we all miss her terribly. Her husband
Joseph told me yesterday that the opera and ballet meant everything to
her; she not only loved supering but also made it a point to go and see
almost every production from the front of the house.
I only met Katherine last fall when I got my first Super role in Norma as a co-priestess, along with her, Priscilla, Naomi and Katerina. She was very welcoming to me and taught me the ins and outs of being a Super. While my time with Katherine was very brief, I know I will never forget her and the kindness she showed to me.
What a sad, sad loss. Katherine and I supered together at the ballet, where we shared the role of the Rich Lady in the new production of Nutcracker. I was so taken with her irrepressible humor, wonderful enthusiasm, graciousness, and friendliness to everyone. Backstage will echo without her.
I was saddened to hear of Katherine's death. I have many fond memories of her from my days overseeing the Supers at the SF Opera. She was a vibrant and dynamic lady who will be missed by everyone who knew her.
Katherine was such a pillar of our Supering community. Through the challenges of the past few years she continued to express her liveliness and vitality. I will miss her generous spirit and contagious joy.
I believe that everyone thinks, as I do, that Katherine was the sweetest person on the West Coast at least. Her demeanor of unforced elegance will always be remembered by me. Her professionalism and pleasantness is something to be admired by us all. She was a great actress too. She really loved doing the operas, didn't she?
Her regal qualities of intelligence, grace, beauty and bearing made her one fine woman to admire and with whom to share the stage. Her wry wit was evidence of her great sense of humor and timing.....what a joy! In Norma she managed to negotiate stumps without stumbling (unlike everyone else) and graced many of our super photos of the production.
I have supered with the SF Opera the past 8 years and she was one of
the first people that I met. We carpooled together a few times
and she was always so fun and enthusiastic to be with. She loved the
opera and she loved people. I was deeply saddened today when I heard
about her untimely death in the IJ. I wasn't a Super
as much as Katherine, but when we got in an opera together, she was
so happy that I was in one with her and I was warmly accepted. She was
a beautiful person inside and out. The last time that I saw her was
at the Christmas Party when she was dressed as a soldier from the Nutcracker.
She was having so much fun.
I will miss you , Katherine.
Last Wednesday (5/10), as I was backing out my car from my garage on
Pacific and Fillmore, I saw a blond woman in the rear-view mirror and
I thought, that is Katherine. And indeed it was. She came up to the
side of the car telling me that she was waiting for her friend who lived
across the street. The friend was going on a trip to Arizona, and Katherine
told me she would go along and keep her company. We talked about various
things, her recent surgery, the Super garage sale and the opera season
to come. Katherine was her usual bubbly self, full of energy and she
looked great. I told her so.
I was on my way to pick up friends to go to a lecture, so we said goodbye, and that we "will see you at the Opera." What a terrible shock when Andrea emailed me with the sad news. I have known Katherine for so many years and have been in several operas with her. She was a wonderful colleague, someone who lit up the day with her sunny and optimistic personality. I will miss her.
was one of the most vibrantly alive people I have ever known. She combined
a joyous grace and down-to-earth openness that enabled her to play anything
from the patrician to the peasant, and play them well. These same qualities
made her a treasured friend to all who knew her even briefly. Her determination
and courageous spirit were an inspiration to us all. Even though she
was taken from us much, much too soon there is one thing you can most
definitely say about Katherine — she lived.
was a beautiful person inside and out. Her friendliness and wit were
so wonderful to encounter. The Ballet and Opera benefited greatly
by her elegant presence in so many productions over the years.
The best bit of acting I saw
Katherine do was at neither the opera nor the ballet but during the
Summer Pops season at the Symphony in 2002, when they were doing a "semi-staged"
version of Bernstein's Candide. Patrick Summers was the conductor,
and the leads were played by Jason Danieley, Marin Mazzie and Rita Moreno,
along with a crew of other accomplished professionals from Broadway
and the opera. And there was Katherine, with dialogue, in a series of
small parts where she not only held her own against the very starry
cast, but was actually one of the highlights of the show. (Her "sheep"
I was so shocked and saddened to learn of this tragic accident. Katherine was my first friend as a new Super, when we did Werther together back in 1985. I was immediately drawn to her by her warmth, positive attitude, and great sense of humor.We spent many times over the years laughing and sharing wonderful stories over our continued passions for the ballet.
The only mitigating element of Katherine's death was that it was powerful and fast, which it would have to be to take out such a life-force. As Carolyn said, she lived. Reading everyone's remembrances reminds me all over why supering at SFO draws special people and keeps them in the friendly web for decades, lifetimes even. (I think the old-fashioned term is "affinity group.")
Katherine was in the very first opera in which I supered, Werther, in the mid-80s. They were literally walk-on parts, but she was the first person I noticed who was actually acting in that tiny space and time given to us. That was more than 20 years ago, but, looking at her photos, I realize she never changed: fabulous posture, graceful movements, gorgeous light-filled face, model-slim body perfect for any costume. And she did it through breast cancer and menopause and Delta Air Line's downsizing and the rest of her personal ups and downs we never knew about.
She was a consummate pro, an inspiration and always a hoot to be around. She loved her Joseph, her adopted Bay Area, and she loved being from Ada and going home for visits because she still valued that no-nonsense, pull-up-by-the-bootstraps Oklahoma core. I am comforted to hear that Traude had that last chance encounter. I will be thinking of you all on the 24th.
(writing from Indiana)
The news of Katherine's death makes me so sad (as I know it does so many others).
I thought you might like to see this photo. It's from Chevy's after the final Turandot in Dec 2002.
My thoughts and prayers are with Joe and all Katherine's friends and family.
Last fall I was in Norma with Katherine -- she was the most poised and elegant of the five of us Druid priestesses, as well as the most experienced Super. On opening night in the dressing room she said with a laugh that no matter how many operas and ballets she had supered in, she was never identifiable in any of the photos that showed up in the paper or brochures or programs. An elbow, part of a costume, the person she was standing behind -- these were all that she could point out to people as to who and where she was in the show. She thought she'd end her super career always just cropped out of the published photo.
And then, two days later, the review came out in the Chronicle. Right there on the first page of the Datebook section was a big photo taken during "Casta diva," and there, fully lit, facing the audience, looking soulful and beautiful and gazing up at the soprano, right in the center of the picture, next to Norma a little to her right, was our Katherine. At last! Here's to you, super sister -- now everyone, even people who have never met you, will know you're a star.
I'll miss you,
everyone's life, at some point, our inner fire is burst into a flame
by an encounter with another human
Supers wishing to contribute further remembrances should email the editor.