Nicola Rescigno – dirigent 1916 – 2008
Born: May 28, 1916 – New York City, New York, USA
Died: August 4, 2008 – Viterbo, Italy
The Italian-American conductor, Nicola Rescigno, was born into a musical family in New York City. He studied with Pizzetti, Giannini and Polacco.
Nicola Rescigno made his debut in 1943, conducting La traviata, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He then toured the USA with the San Carlo Opera Company and served as music director for the Connecticut Opera and Havana Opera. In 1953, he co-founded the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he was music director from 1954 to 1956, and conducted the American debut of Maria Callas there. In 1957, he co-founded the Dallas Opera where he served as artistic director and principal conductor from 1957 to 1990. While at the Dallas Opera, he conducted the USA debuts of such singers as Montserrat Caballé, Plácido Domingo, Dame Joan Sutherland, Teresa Berganza, Magda Olivero, Jon Vickers, and stage director Franco Zeffirelli. He presented there the American premieres of George Frideric Handel’s Alcina and Antonio Vivaldi’s Orlando furioso. He also conducted the world premieres of Virgil Thomson’s Fantasy in Homage to an Earlier England (1966) and Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers (1988).
Nicola Rescigno made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1978, conducting Don Pasquale (with Beverly Sills, in John Dexter’s production), followed by L’elisir d’amore (1980), L’italiana in Algeri (with Marilyn Horne and Rockwell Blake, 1981), and La traviata (1981-1982). Rescigno also conducted at the San Francisco Opera. He conducted at most of the major opera houses of Italy, and made guest appearances at Glyndebourne, London, Paris, Vienna, Zürich, Buenos Aires, etc.
Nicola Rescigno particularly associated with the Italian opera repertory. He was closely associated with Callas, having been one of her favourite conductors, and recorded several albums of operatic arias with her for EMI, from 1958 to 1969. He also recorded an album of Verdi arias with Robert Weede (in 1953), excerpts from Francesca da Rimini (with Mario del Monaco and Magda Olivero, 1969), and complete sets of Tosca (with Mirella Freni, 1978) and Lucia di Lammermoor (with Edita Gruberová, 1983). Also available, on DVD, are a 1959 concert from Hamburg with Callas, and a 1981 performance of L’elisir d’amore from the Met, with Judith Blegen and Luciano Pavarotti.
Nicola Rescigno died at the age of 92 in a hospital in Viterbo, Italy, while awaiting surgery on his broken femur. He was the uncle of the conductor Joseph Rescigno.