The 81-year-old maestro is returning home to Florence for good, according to a statement from the company's administration. While he plans to continue conducting in Italian opera houses, he will no longer perform abroad.
Bartoletti made his U.S. debut at Lyric Opera in 1956, conducting Verdi's Il trovatore. In 1964 he became the company's so-artistic director; from 1975 to 1999 he was sole artistic director and has since served as artistic director emeritus. When he departs Chicago next month, he will have conducted 592 performances of 55 operas there.
In a special program insert for the current Traviata, company general director William Mason writes, "Beyond all of [his achievements], however, are the boundless love and respect felt by all of us at Lyric for our irrepressible Florentine maestro. As the true soul' of this company, he has exuded a dedication to his art that has inspired us for more than half a century. We know that Bruno's fondest wish is for Lyric to continue to flourish at the exalted standards that he has maintained. Carissimo Bruno, we'll do our best to be worthy of your glorious example."