Tito Capobianco

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Tito Capobianco (born 28 August 1931, in La Plata, Argentina) is a noted stage director of opera.


He made his official debut with Aïda, at the Teatro Argentino, La Plata, in 1953, then worked at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. His American debut came in 1964 with a production of Carmen at the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company, with Jean Madeira in the title role.

Capobianco is former Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Opera Festival (1961 to 1965) and the Cincinnati Opera (1962 to 1965) before moving to the New York City Opera in 1965 with Les contes d'Hoffmann, a production which included Beverly Sills and Norman Treigle in the cast. Then followed posts at the San Diego Opera and the Pittsburgh Opera, 1983–2000, where his 17-year tenure was described as: "armed with a towering personality, glittering charisma and determined artistic vision, he's ruled the Pittsburgh Opera - sometimes, say his critics, with an iron fist."[1]

A man who has been described as difficult to work with and who "admits his intense management and directing style was at times hard on his singers and staff: "I am obsessed with something that does not exist: perfection.",[1] Capobianco seemed to relish the control which the post of general director gave to him: "The impetus of general director was the assurance to me that I could do whatever I wanted. There will be nobody except the board to stop me. I don't believe in democracy in the arts. You don't use four persons to do the same painting."[1]

New York City Opera, 1966 to 1976[edit]

Capobianco was to become one of the City Opera's important directors, mounting ground-breaking productions including Alberto Ginastera's Don Rodrigo (with Plácido Domingo), Giulio Cesare (which brought Sills to preëminence in 1966), Le Coq d'Or, Manon, Mefistofele (with Treigle in his greatest role), Lucia di Lammermoor, Les contes d'Hoffmann, I puritani, Il turco in Italia and the world premiere of Menotti's La loca.

In addition there was the now-famous "The Three Queens" operas of Donizetti, Roberto Devereux (1970), Maria Stuarda (1972), and Anna Bolena, all of which starred Sills.[2] The director established a solid working relationship with Sills - and the feeling was mutual: "I can ask her to try anything onstage,” marvels Tito Capobianco, who has directed most of her successes at City Opera and whom Beverly regards as “her” director."[3] Capobianco commented on some of the features which allowed the trio of operas to be presented: "It was a golden era....We had singers who could act. It was total theatre; drama. It was just a fantastic moment..."[2]

San Diego Opera, 1976 to 1983[edit]

One of the features of his tenure at the company was the introduction of a Verdi Festival, with two opera presented each summer, one generally a late composition, the other an early work from the composer's "galley years". Beginning in 1976 with Otello as part of the regular season, the Festival continued in the summers of 1978 with the Requiem and Aida; in 1979 with I Lombardi; in 1980 with Il trovatore and Giovanna d'Arco; in 1981 with Un giorno di regno plus the Requiem and 1982 saw stagings of Il corsaro and Un ballo in maschera. Capobianco left the company in 1983, but his successor was able to present I masnadieri (with Dame Joan Sutherland) along with Simon Boccanegra while the Festival concept ended in March 1985 with Oberto (with Ferruccio Furlanetto and Susanne Marsee).[4]

Metropolitan Opera[edit]

Capobianco made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1978, with Thaïs, featuring Sills, and returned to that theatre for Simon Boccanegra in 1984, with Sherrill Milnes in the title role.


  • Donizetti: Roberto Devereux (Sills, Marsee, J.Alexander, Fredricks; Rudel, 1975) [live] VAI
  • Verdi: La traviata (Sills, H.Price, Fredricks; Rudel, 1976) [live] VAI
  • Massenet: Manon (Sills, H.Price, Fredricks, Ramey; Rudel, 1977) [live] Paramount
  • Verdi: Simon Boccanegra (Tomowa-Sintow, Milnes, Plishka; Levine, 1984) [live] Deutsche Grammophon


  1. ^ a b c Andrew Druckenbrod, "Final curtain: Tito Capobianco's tempestuous tenure at Pittsburgh Opera marked by financial and artistic gains", The Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh), 2 April 2000. Retrieved 11 September 2010
  2. ^ a b Anthony J. Rudel, "Three Queens, One Soprano", essay in booklet accompanying the Three Queens ABC "Audio Treasury" recordings
  3. ^ Capobianco in Time magazine, 22 November 1971, quoted on beverlysillsonline.com Retrieved 11 September 2010
  4. ^ San Diego Opera's "Performance History" page on sdopera.com Retrieved 11 September 2011
  • Warrack, John & Ewan West, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera, Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-280028-0

External links[edit]

  • [1] The Essential Tito Capobianco.