Obituary: Iconic Conductor, Composer Anton Coppola Passes at 102

By David Salazar

Famed composer and conductor Anton Coppola has passed away on March 9, 2020 at age 102.

Coppola was born on March 21, 1917 and started his musical journey as a member of the Metropoitan Opera Children’s Chorus. He served in World War II and would become conductor at the Radio City Music Hall as well as the director of the Symphony and Opera departments at the Manhattan School of Music.

In 1965, he debuted at the New York City Opera, conducting the world premier of “Lizzie Borden.” He would also lead the world premiere of “Of Mice and Men” in 1970.

In 1996, he founded Opera Tampa and would serve as its Artistic Director all the way through 2012; during that time he premiered his own opera “Sacco and Vanzetti.” He also composed a new ending for Puccini’s “Turandot” in 2017.

Commenting on his new ending in an interview with OperaWire back in 2017, Coppola noted, “I wrote my own libretto. I stayed with the fairy tale. The ending I have is that she refuses him. She had a maniacal obsession with her brutalized ancestor. That wasn’t going to change so quickly. So she executes him anyway. Then I re-introduce Ping, Pong, Pang again and they comment on how it’s just another execution.”

He is the uncle of famed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and appeared as an uncredited conductor in the “Godfather: Part III.” He is also the great-uncle to film director Sofia Coppola, who he advised during her production of “La Traviata.”