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Tito Capobianco, Assertive Opera Director, Is Dead at 87

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At City Opera, he also mounted productions of Boito’s “Mefistofele,” starring Mr. Treigle as a malevolent devil, in 1969, and Donizetti’s Tudor Trilogy (“Anna Bolena,” “Maria Stuarda” and “Roberto Devereux”), staged for and starring Ms. Sills, in the early 1970s.

Mr. Capobianco made his Met debut in 1978, with a new production of Massenet’s “Thaïs,” starring Ms. Sills and the baritone Sherrill Milnes. His only other work at the Met was a 1984 production (borrowed from the Lyric Opera of Chicago and restaged for the Met) of Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra,” featuring Mr. Milnes in the title role.

He became artistic director of San Diego Opera in 1975 and its general director two years later. His 17-year tenure with the Pittsburgh Opera, all but the last two as general director, began in 1983.

The company’s board had assured him that he could “do whatever I wanted,” he said in a 2000 interview with The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, adding, “I don’t believe in democracy in the arts.”

His achievements there included founding a program for young artists, moving the company from Heinz Hall to the more commodious stage of the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, and establishing the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, freeing the company from its previous reliance on the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

He brought his authoritarian manner to the task of fund-raising. “I was becoming dangerous,” he joked in 2000. When patrons saw him coming, he said, “They’d cross the street.” But budgetary restraints forced him to winnow his annual seasons from six to four productions, and to skewer offerings toward more traditional fare.

Mr. Capobianco also taught acting and interpretation at several institutions, including Indiana University, the Juilliard School and, starting in 1983, the Yale School of Music. In one last go at running a company, he returned to Argentina and was general and artistic director of Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in 2004 and 2005.


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