Opera Conductor Alfredo Silipigni Dies at 72

Classic Arts News   Opera Conductor Alfredo Silipigni Dies at 72
New Jersey State Opera conductor Alfredo Silipigni died on March 25 at the age of 72, reports the Newark Star Ledger.

He was principal conductor and artistic director of the NJSOpera since its founding 39 years ago, guiding the company from an amateur venture to a respected professional company. Silipigni was known for his talent conducting verismo opera.

In October 2002, Silipigni conducted two performances of Verdi's Aida in Shanghai with a cast of 1,500 and audiences of more than 50,000, according to the NJSOpera web site.

Silipigni was born in Atlantic City and educated at the Juilliard School and Westminster Choir College of Rider University. He made his Carnegie Hall debut with the NBC Symphony Orchestra at 25; his international career included appearances with the Vienna State Opera, English National Opera, Teatrale L'Opera de Montreal, and Opera de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

Silipigni conducted Puccini's Turandot for the NJSOpera's house debut at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (Newark) in February and March of 1998.

Plšcido Domingo often requested Silipigni when singing verismo; one such occasion was the 1999 production of Giordano's Fedora in Mexico City, with Domingo as Ipanov. Other stars were also Silipigni fans, including Metropolitan Opera singers Licia Albanese and Jerome Hines, who often sang in his productions. Silipigni also worked with Birgit Nilsson (singing her last American Turandot), Franco Corelli, Carlo Bergonzi, Roberta Peters, Beverly Sills, Richard Tucker, and the verismo specialists Giuseppe Taddei and Magda Olivero.

According to the Star Ledger, Silipigni's greatest legacy was convincing funders that New Jersey deserved an opera company of its own.

Silipigni is survived by his wife of 45 years, Gloria; daughters Marisa and Elizabeth Silipigni; son Alfred Silipigni; and two grandchildren. He died from acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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