Bruno Bartoletti, Lyric Opera of Chicago's artistic director emeritus (June 10, 1926 - June 9, 2013)
Florentine-born, Chicago-beloved, and internationally-renowned Maestro Bruno Bartoletti has died in Italy, on the day before his 87th birthday. Maestro Bartoletti conducted nearly 600 performances of 55 operas at Lyric. He served as Lyric's co-artistic director 1964-74 and artistic director 1975-99. Maestro Bartoletti's colleagues and friends reflect on his musical legacy:
• "Bruno was a mentor, colleague, and friend for more than 50 years. He was passionate about opera and singing. Italian opera was in his blood – there was no better interpreter of Puccini. Yet, he had a unique affinity for contemporary operas as well. He was a wonderful musician and human being, and he made a remarkable contribution to the musical life of Chicago." – William Mason, general director emeritus
• "Bruno Bartoletti was a giant in Lyric's history, nurturing and developing the fledgling company when he first joined Lyric in 1956, and overseeing its artistic and musical growth. By the time he retired as artistic director in 1999, Lyric was recognized around the world as one of the great opera companies. He continued to actively enjoy the fruits of his achievements until 2007, when he conducted the company for the last time. Bruno’s contribution to Lyric was unique in its importance and longevity, and his death truly marks the end of an era." – Anthony Freud, general director
• "Maestro Bartoletti represents virtually the whole history of Lyric Opera of Chicago. I have always had the greatest respect and admiration for the way he built the company into such a shining beacon in the musical landscape of America." – Sir Andrew Davis, music director
• "How fortunate Lyric is to have had such a man as artistic director. Bruno Bartoletti has...been the musical impetus that drove this great company onward and upward, and created that special spirit which exists in Chicago....[A]n inspirational force with a sense of history and style that is so rare these days." – tenor Plácido Domingo, who starred in several Lyric Opera productions conducted by Mo. Bartoletti.
• "Maestro Bartoletti had a special reverence for music. He really taught that to the orchestra through any score he conducted, especially in the Italian repertoire. I can’t tell you in how many of those pieces I refer back to everything he taught us about the sound, the pacing, everything in the music. I remember that so strongly about him on the podium. Maestro Bartoletti hired a great many people in the orchestra. I feel his hires are the legacy of the Lyric orchestra." – Charlene Zimmerman, principal clarinetist
• "Though the gods of Verdi and Puccini and Donizetti were high in his personal pantheon, what made Bruno different from a lot of Italian conductors of his day was that this was a man who was fascinated by the music of his own time. One more thing to say about him: He had a wonderful marriage, wonderful children, a beautiful home. He was a happy man.” – Matthew Epstein, former artistic director
Bruno Bartoletti is survived by his daughters, Chiara and Maria, and his five grandchildren. His wife Rosanna died in 2011.