Karen Saillant, Artistic Director

Karen Saillant

Musician, stage director, opera singer, librettist, playwright, actor, commedia dell’arte artist, pianist, choral conductor and voice teacher,  Karen Saillant has decades of experience guiding singers and actors in the creation and performance of classic and original works of art. As a teacher of Breathing Coordination, with first hand ability to resolve all problems related to the holding of breath, Ms. Saillant has worked extensively giving master classes and private sessions to reeducate the diaphragm and return the respiratory system to healthy function for individuals with asthma, emphysema and all types of breathing and vocal disorders.

Starring in regional opera houses in Europe and US,she has received standing ovations and rave reviews for her artistry and ability to communicate.With commissions for original work from numerous institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Constitution Center, The American Composers Forum. As founder and artistic director of International Opera Theater (IOT), 2013 marks the 10th year she has directed and produced a world premiere Italian opera in Italy- most based on texts of Shakespeare. In addition to premieres in Teatro degli Avvaloranti, Citta’ della Pieve, her works have been presented at The International Festival of Culture in Bergamo, Teatro Mancinelli,Orvieto, Teatro Comunale, Citta’ di Saluzzo, Teatro Valle, Rome and in Philadelphia at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Rosenbach Museum, The Ibrahim Theater, Gershman Hall, Prince Music Theater, Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center and The Academy of Music, the oldest opera house in the US still in use, for their 150th anniversary celebration.In 2013, IOT presented the American premiere of “JAGO”, based on an original story by Karen Saillant, in Philadelphia. and also the world premiere of “Camille Claudel” in Italy, followed by its American premiere for Global Philadelphia celebration in the fall. In 2014, IOT presented the world premiere of “AZAIO” for the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare and the 180th anniversary of the death of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “AZAIO” is based on an original story by Karen Saillant and Christian Bygott. This year Karen is premiering two world premieres. One is a Cantata about the childhood of Hildegard DeBingem which will be performed in Assisi for the Suono Sacro Festival. The second is “ERROR” based on William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” in Citta Della Pieve.

Ms Saillant’s work has received support from many foundations including Hersig Family Foundation, Philadelphia Foundation, Independence Foundation, William Penn Foundation and Presser Foundation. She attended Indiana University,graduating from Temple University with a Bachelor of Music and Combs College of Music, alma mater of Vincent Persichetti, with a Masters of Music. In 1976, Ms. Saillant became the first American to represent the US in The International Opera Competition in Sofia, Bulgaria. She was, the year before, the first singer presented in a New York recital debut by The Stough Institute of Breathing Coordination.

Before his death, Carl Stough, who discovered the authentic function of the respiratory system, designated her as one of a small number of his students to carry on his work. Carl Stough’s legacy was immortalized through 40 years of groundbreaking rehabilitation for thousands of patients in the field of emphysema. Additionally, during  the XIX Olympic Games, held in Mexico City in 1968, his track and field team received more gold medals than in any other other Olympics, setting records that would last 25 years and  becoming the only team to not need oxygen in the high altitudes of Mexico City.

Ms. Saillant teaches Breathing Coordination at The Healing Arts Medical Center in Philadelphia. In 1999 she was able to successfully remove her comatose husband from the ventilator, facilitating his independent respiration until his death one year and a half later. Her writing on Breathing Coordination has been translated into Italian, Portuguese and Chinese and will soon be available in Russian.