Partner W.H. Auden
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Stati Uniti
Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11210, Stati Uniti
Jewish Cemetery Athens, Regional unit of Athens, Attica, Greece
Chester Simon Kallman (January 7, 1921 – January 18, 1975) was an American poet, librettist, and translator, best known for his collaborations with W.H. Auden and Igor Stravinsky.
Kallman was born in Brooklyn of Jewish ancestry. He received his B.A. at
Brooklyn College and his M.A. at the University of Michigan.
Harold Norse met Kallman in
1938. In 1939 he and Kallman, both recently graduated from Brooklyn College,
attended a reading given by Auden and
Christopher Isherwood in
their first joint appearance in New York. The two graduates seated themselves
in the front row with the admitted intent of seducing Auden. Kallman, who
succeeded, became Auden's lifetime companion. Auden described their relation as a "marriage" that began with a
cross-country "honeymoon" journey.
In 1941 Kallman ended their sexual relationship because he could not accept Auden's insistence on mutual fidelity, but he and Auden remained companions for the rest of Auden's life, sharing houses and apartments from 1953 until Auden's death. Auden dedicated both editions of his collected poetry (1945/50 and 1966) to Christopher Isherwood and Kallman.
He lived most of his adult life in New York, spending his summers in Italy from 1948 through 1957 and in Austria from 1958 through 1974.
He published three collections of poems, Storm at Castelfranco (1956), Absent and Present (1963), and The Sense of Occasion (1971).
In 1963 he moved his winter home from New York to Athens, Greece, and died there at the age of 54. Kallman had been the beneficiary of the entirety of Auden's estate, but himself died intestate, with the result that the estate was inherited by his next-of-kin, his father, Edward Kallman (1892–1986), a New York dentist in his eighties.
Together with his lifelong friend (and sometime lover) W. H. Auden, Kallman wrote the libretto for Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress (1951). They also collaborated on two librettos for Henze, Elegy for Young Lovers (1961) and The Bassarids (1966), and on the libretto of Love's Labour's Lost (based on Shakespeare's play) for Nicolas Nabokov (1973). They also wrote a libretto "Delia, or, A Masque of Night" (1953), intended for Stravinsky, but never set to music. They were commissioned to write the lyrics for Man of La Mancha, but Kallman did no work on the project, and the producers decided against using Auden's contributions.
Kallman was the sole author of the libretto of The Tuscan Players for Carlos Chávez (1953, first performed in 1957 as Panfilo and Lauretta).
He and Auden collaborated on a number of libretto translations, notably The Magic Flute (1956) and Don Giovanni (1961). Kallman also translated Verdi's Falstaff (1954), Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea (1954) and many other operas.
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