Last week, conductor Fiora Corradetti Contino left us forever, leaving a massive gap in the artistic community.
The Italian-American was one of the most important figures of the 20th century, even if her profile was not given the exposure it often deserved.
Contino, who passed away in Carmel Indiana on March 5 at the age of 91, founded the Amherst Community Opera in Massachusetts at 27, a massive risk for the time. She would then go on to serve as director of other major organizations, including Opera Illinois and the Choral Institute of Aspen, Colorado. She was also a professor and choral department chair at Indiana University, her alma mater.
Throughout her career, she was a noted interpreter of the verismo style, her conducting of Puccini, Mascagni and Leoncavallo showcasing a rare intensity that Male conductors simply cannot match. In fact, her performance of Mascagni’s “Iris” garnered tremendous plaudits, particular from The New York Times critic Paul Griffiths who called it “a luscious and exultant orchestral performance.”
While there is one out-of-print biography about the conductor, she left no commercial recordings as a conductor. There is one recording of Contino performing as a pianist alongside soprano Flore Wend in Debussy’s “Les Chansons e Bilitis.” There are also recordings left by her sister, soprano Iris Adami Corradetti, and her father Ferruccio Corradetti, a baritone.