Director’s cut: The one the Met refused to hire

Director’s cut: The one the Met refused to hire


norman lebrecht

November 14, 2017

US media are lamenting the death of Frank Corsaro, a New York director who had a decisive impact on City Opera but was only once engaged at the Met, and that was because he came as part of a Canadian Handel package.

A former actor who remained close friends with Marlon Brando and Paul Newman, Corsaro was a go-to director on Broadway.

He taught for 21 years at Juilliard and staged three productions at Glyndebourne in its glory years – Where the Wild Things AreThe Love of Three Oranges and the Ravel double-bill of L’Heure Espagnole and L’Enfant et les Sortilèges.

He died in Georgia on November 11, aged 92.


  • Peter Owen says:

    I was fortunate to be a super in the early 80s Glyndebourne Love for Three Oranges, which he directed, Sendak designed and Rattle conducted. Whilst I’m not sure Prokofiev himself would have followed everything that was happening on stage it certainly reflected Corsaro’s energy and inventiveness. He was also a very nice guy and I treasure the memory of his facial expression when Sir Simon quietly explained to him that the word fanny changes meaning mid-Atlantic.

    • MWnyc says:

      For those Brits who don’t know, in the U.S., fanny is – well, was – a dowdy old euphemism for arse. It was the kind of word your grandmother or great-grandmother used.

      Excepting the term “fanny pack” – a sort of storage belt used by tourists – I haven’t heard the word used for many years.

      • Steven Holloway says:

        Yes, but in the U.K. and associated territories, ‘fanny’ has been since the 19th.c. a very vulgar term referencing female genitals. It is no longer used often, but enough to create of risk of misunderstanding and offense for American visitors. A fanny pack is called a ‘bumbag’. Those two terms are odd ones, given that most users of such packs have the sense to wear them in front over the navel, where they are rather more difficult to pilfer from.

    • Jonathan Grieves-Smith says:

      That was a priceless moment, Peter Owen!!

  • MWnyc says:

    Frank Corsaro may not have worked much at the Met, but he staged many well-regarded productions at New York City Opera during a period when It was usually more interesting than the Met. (Corsaro’s association with City Opera may well have been why he wasn’t engaged by the Met.)

  • SC says:

    I had the privilege of assisting Frank in a less than glorious production at Covent Garden (the weaknesses were no doubt all my fault) and despite its failure we stayed friends for years thereafter. I never missed looking him up when visiting New York. Very sorry to hear he has gone: such a nice, clever and experienced director.

    One memory of many: I will never forget his look of deep silent horror as the lights came up at the end of the first half of The Phantom of the Opera. Frank was up for the job of directing the Broadway transfer and had flown to London to see what he might be in for: “I had no idea it could be this bad”. Needless to say he didn’t do the show.