On October 9, 2017, the opera world lost one of its greatest conductors with the passing of Vincent La Selva. He leaves us at 88 years of age due to complications from dementia, according to his daughter Maria Vogt.
A lifelong performer, La Selva began conducting student performances at the age of 12. He received his bachelor’s from the Julliard School and has been a member of their faculty since 1969. In 1973, La Selva founded the New York Grand Opera, which brought free productions to public audiences for almost 40 years.
One of La Selva’s crowning achievements was the completion of a seven-year cycle of Giuseppe Verdi’s operas. Going in chronological order from “Oberto” (1839) to “Falstaff” (1893), the cycle culminated with Verdi’s “Requiem Mass” in a special performance at Carnegie Hall, held on the 100th anniversary of Verdi’s death on January 27, 1901. For his contributions to the works of Verdi, La Selva was knighted by the President of Italy as a Cavaliere in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
While the New York Grand Opera mostly played for audiences in Central Park, they have given performances at venues such as the Beacon Theatre, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, and the Bronx Botanical Gardens.
A visitation will begin Monday, October 16 at the Moriarty Funeral Home in Montclair, New Jersey. The following day, the funeral will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Donations can be made to the New York Grand Opera in lieu of flowers.