410 W Girard Ave | Philadelphia, PA

Karen Saillant

Karen Saillant

Karen Saillant, Artistic Director



Musician, stage director, opera singer, librettist, playwright, actor, commedia dell’arte artist, pianist, choral conductor, vocal coach & respiratory specialist, Karen Saillant has more than five 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 in Italy and private sessions at a Philadelphia medical facility to reeducate the diaphragm and return the respiratory system to healthy function, helping individuals with asthma, emphysema and all types of breathing and vocal disorders.

Starring in regional opera houses in Europe and USA, with standing ovations and rave reviews for her artistry and ability to communicate, she has received commissions for her original work from numerous institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Constitution Center and The American Composers Forum. As founder and artistic director of International Opera Theater (IOT), 2018 marks the 15th year she will direct and produce a world premiere Italian opera in Italy- many having been based on texts of Shakespeare and social justice issues. In addition to premieres in Teatro degli Avvaloranti, Citta’ della Pieve, her works have been presented at The International Festival of Culture in Bergamo (80,000 in attendance), Teatro Mancinelli, Orvieto, Teatro Comunale, Citta’ di Saluzzo, Teatro Valle, Rome’s oldest opera house 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. In 2014, IOT presented the world premiere of “AZAIO” in both Italy and Philadelphia for the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare and the 180th anniversary of the death of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “AZAIO” was based on an original story by Karen Saillant and her son, Christian Bygott. Starting in 2015, in addition to the annual Italian opera premiere, she began writing and producing world premiere cantatas for premiere at The Assisi Suono Sacro Festival.

Ms Saillant’s work has received support from foundations including Hersig Family Foundation, Philadelphia Foundation, Independence Foundation, William Penn Foundation and Presser Foundation. She attended Indiana University on a full vocal scholarship, 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, at The XIX Olympic Games, held in Mexico City in 1968, his track and field team received more gold medals than in any 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 has taught 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.