Singers share their love for Nello Santi

Singers share their love for Nello Santi


norman lebrecht

February 07, 2020

Tributes are flooding in for the late conductor:


Piotr Beczala, saddened and shaken: Ich habe grade erfahren dass Grande Maestro Nello Santi von uns gegangen ist … bin sehr traurig und erschüttert. Verdanke Ihm sehr viel , Er hat mich sehr geprägt , unsere Rigoletto und Ballo in Maschera waren Meilensteine in meiner Entwicklung was italienisches Fach betrifft! Bin zutiefst dankbar ! Mein Mitgefühl und Beileid der ganzen Familie ! R.I.P

Janice DiBiase: Maestro Santi was principal conductor of Radio Sinfonieorchester Basel from 1986-1994, one of the two Basel orchestras which merged in 1997 to become Sinfonieorchester Basel. Maestro Santi was never as happy as when he conducted Italian repertory, in which he was world class. Under his direction Basel heard an unforgettable Swiss premiere of Rossini’s opera “Wiliam Tell” among other brilliant concerts. He was known and somewhat dreaded for his tirelessness, since he was an exacting and demanding leader who never let up in his efforts for perfection. The rehearsals were long and draining, but his energy level didn’t show the slightest sign of being diminished. I remember one rehearsal where he spent forty-five minutes hearing each string player tune individually while the rest of the orchestra listened and waited. Before a concert, I once found myself washing my hands in the ladies’ room next to his wife, a beaming, gentle personality and couldn’t resist asking her an indiscreet question. “ Mrs. Santi, is your husband always so tireless?” She reflected a second and smiled in complicity, “ if it’s about music, yes.” Nello Santi was a larger-than-life figure and will remain dear to the memories of his musicians and audiences.
Janice DiBiase
former violist, Sinfonieorchester Basel

The Metropolitan Opera: … mourns the passing of Italian maestro Nello Santi, pictured here after a 1962 performance of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera with Mattiwilda Dobbs, Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, and Régine Crespin. Over the course of his nearly 40-year Met career, Santi led 400 performances with company, specializing in many of the classic works of the Italian operatic repertory.


Vienna Opera: Die Wiener Staatsoper trauert um den bedeutenden italienischen Dirigenten Nello Santi, der am 6. Februar 2020 im Alter von 88 Jahren in Zürich verstorben ist. Dem Haus am Ring war er über viele Jahre verbunden: Er debütierte am 13. März 1960 mit Aida am Dirigentenpult der Wiener Staatsoper und leitete hier in weiterer Folge 79 Vorstellungen von 17 unterschiedlichen Werken, darunter die Premierenproduktion von Andréa Chenier in der Inszenierung von Otto Schenk, die heute noch am Spielplan steht, sowie u. a. Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Otello, La forza del destino, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto und Lucia di Lammermoor. Am 3. Oktober 1982 dirigierte er mit einer Vorstellung vom La Bohème zum letzten Mal an der Wiener Staatsoper.


The least appropriate instant response comes from the deputy arts editor of the London Times:


  • opera tourist says:

    Luckily there are many recordings – most on the long defunct Concert Hall LP label – perhaps time for a CD reissue?

    • Absolutely! My personal favourite: Montemezzi’s L’ Amore dei Tre
      Re. Wonderful opera and with the incomparable Cesare
      Siepi as the old blind king Archibaldo! (Moffo, Domingo and Ryland Davies aren’t bad either…)

  • Player says:

    Where has Neil Fisher got this idea from? Bit of an odd/off thing to say.