Tito Capobianco, an opera luminary who helped foster the career of soprano Beverly Sills and celebrated a 17-year tenure with Pittsburgh Opera, died September 8 at the age of 87, according to the New York Times. His death follows a battle with cancer, according to his son Renato.
After exploring a career as a baritone (including in his native Argentina), Mr. Capobianco began directing on the American stage, including the North American premiere of Alberto Ginastera’s Don Rodrigo in 1966 (starring Plácido Domingo). That same year, he directed New York City Opera’s production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare, which featured Beverly Sills as Cleopatra. The performance ignited a multi-year period of collaboration between the director and soprano and helped establish Sills as an internationally acclaimed star.
The two later worked together on Massenet’s Manon in 1968, and in the 1970s, Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux, known informally collectively as the “Tudor Trilogy” (in which Sills starred as Anne Boleyn, Mary Stuart, and Queen Elizabeth I). She also starred in Mr. Capobianco’s production of Thaïs, marking his Metropolitan Opera debut.
After taking up the position of artistic director at San Diego Opera in 1975 before becoming its general director, he then assumed that position at Pittsburgh Opera in 1983, beginning a 17-year tenure with the company. His various initiatives included establishing English supertitles above all stagings, as well as the company’s two-year Resident Artist program.
Mr. Capobianco is survived by Renato and another son, Danilo, as well as four grandchildren. He was married to Elena Capobianco until her death in 2011.