Conductor Fritz Reiner was one of the prominent maestros of the 20th century. Born on Dec. 19, 1988, he most famously led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a great number of years.
He worked with some of the world’s finest musicians, famously recording concertos with Jascha Heifetz, but was also noted for his work in the opera house. At the Met, he didn’t quite have the most fruitful of careers, arriving at the famed house late in his life. Here are some fun facts about his career at the biggest company in the United States.
He made his debut on Feb. 4, 1949, conducting “Salome” with Ljuba Welitsch in the title role. Interestingly, that night saw the Strauss opera paired with Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi,” a coupling that is rarely ever attempted.
During his tenure he conducted a wide range of repertoire, but he was the champion of Wagner, performing a total of four operas with the Met, including “Tristan und Isolde,” “Der Fliegende Holländer,” “Parsifal,” and “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” He was preparing “Götterdämmerung” at the time of his death.
The conductor only took on one Verdi opera in his time at the Met – “Falstaff.” He led three performances in February and March of 1949.
Carmen To Finish It Up
In sum, the maestro conducted 157 performances with the company, his last ones coming in 1953. His last one at the Metropolitan Opera House was “Carmen,” a work he conducted 27 times with the company. That was on April 11, 1953. His last performance with the company came one month later on May 26, 1953, in Toronto while on tour. The opera was also “Carmen.”