Conductor helped create Dallas Opera
Nicola Rescigno, 92, co-founder of the Dallas Opera and one of Maria Callas’ favorite conductors, died Monday of complications following heart failure and breathing problems, said Corrado Ricci, a doctor at Belcolle Hospital in Viterbo, Italy, about 50 miles north of Rome.
Rescigno had been admitted July 30 with a broken femur after a fall. But Ricci said that at that point, Rescigno already was in serious condition.
The New York-born Rescigno moved to music after earning a law degree at La Sapienza University of Rome. His career was largely spent in the United States.
He conducted Callas’ debut in America, eventually becoming one of the star soprano’s favorite conductors in an association that spanned several years, performances and recordings.
“He knew how to bring together orchestra and singing, doing everything possible to bring out the best singing performance,” said Elvio Giudici, a leading opera critic. “It is not by chance that he worked with Callas when she had her small vocal problems.”
Rescigno and the late Lawrence V. Kelly founded the Dallas Opera in 1957, with Rescigno taking the job of artistic director. According to the theater’s website, the theater opened with a concert by Callas in November 1957.
After Kelly’s death in 1974, Rescigno took on the role of general director as well.
Rescigno also was a co-founder of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and conducted at the Royal Opera Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera and Vienna State Opera. His recordings include recitals with Callas and Luciano Pavarotti.