In permanent and guest engagements with more than 50 companies on four continents. Joseph Rescigno has conducted the standard operatic repertory, masterworks of the choral literature, and symphonies and concertos from the baroque to the contemporary (sometimes from the keyboard in works from earlier eras). In the course of several decades, he has taken on world premieres like Minoru Miki’s Jōruri and Don Davis’s Río de Sangre as well as rarities like Rossini’s 1816 La Gazzetta, the Brescia version of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, and Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ. In the course of these many engagements, he has been privileged to collaborate with prominent instrumentalists and singers of three generations. Multi-lingual, he readily gives lively and informative talks before performances, illustrating themes on the piano when one is available.
Maestro Rescigno served as Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor of the Florentine Opera Company of Milwaukee (WI), where he conducted some of the company’s most challenging repertory, for 38 seasons beginning in 1981. He also has been Music Director of La Musica Lirica, a summer program for singers in Northern Italy, since 2005. In addition, for four seasons, he served as Artistic Director of Metropolitan Orchestra of Greater Montreal, with which he won Quebec’s Prix Opus for a program of all five Beethoven piano concertos with Anton Kuerti. His discography includes the aforementioned Río de Sangre (Albany Records) and Jōruri (Dreamlife) and studio recordings for Analekta of Canada: Beethoven (Eroica symphony and Egmont overture and arias), Brahms (piano concertos with Anton Kuerti), Mendelssohn (violin concertos with Angèle Dubeau), and the solo operatic anthologies Mozart (Lyne Fortin) and Verismo (Diana Soviero).
A born teacher, Rescigno is the author of Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music, published by University of North Texas Press in May of 2020. It is a book about 25 standard repertory operas that aims to supply useful advice to colleagues and insights to avid fans (commentary here). It also serves as a natural extension of his many decades of working with young musicians and singers. This includes having served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music as well as guest engagements at universities and conservatories, in addition to imparting his knowledge and experience at La Musica Lirica, in master classes, and in private coaching. In recognition of his high musical standards, Maestro Rescigno has been chosen to mentor Solti Foundation U.S. Award recipients as part of the Foundation’s residency project (newly expanded to opera) since the 2014-2015 season. Winners have apprenticed with Rescigno through an entire rehearsal and performance cycle, most recently at the North Carolina Opera in Raleigh. He is also honored to serve on the advisory committee of the Olga Forrai Foundation as it supports the training, education, and career development of singers and conductors.
As a guest artist, this peripatetic conductor has led the New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Seattle Opera, Atlanta Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Omaha, Arizona Opera, Hungarian State Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Vancouver Opera, Teatro Bellini, l’Opéra de Marseille, and l’Opéra de Montréal among others. The symphony orchestras he has conducted include the Montreal Symphony and the Milwaukee Symphony, both of which he has led in their regular subscription series as well as in opera productions.
This native New Yorker comes from a long line of musicians on both sides of his family. He trained as a pianist and has been studying and performing music since childhood. His uncle was the prominent conductor Nicola Rescigno, a founder of both the Dallas Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago. He holds a Master of Music (piano) degree from Manhattan School of Music and studied with composer Nicolas Flagello and other distinguished teachers in the United States and Europe, including privately at l’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome.
Maestro Rescigno made his New York recital debut with a program of four Beethoven piano sonatas at Carnegie Recital Hall (now, Weill Recital Hall). He went on to work with such influential conductors as Laszlo Halasz (founder of the New York City Opera), Bruno Maderna, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Carlo Moresco (the first director of the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company), and his uncle. Powerful influences also included pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, conductors Herbert von Karajan and Erich Leinsdorf, and Roberto Benaglio, the legendary chorus master of La Scala. Each one personally taught him something unforgettable.
Joseph Rescigno married his wife Jeanne in 1971, and they live in Manhattan.
Concertatore is a rather old-fashioned name for a conductor in an opera house. Typically and colloquially, Italians refer to the person who leads an orchestra as il direttore d’orchestra. The person who not only leads the performance but works on the conception and realization of a piece with singers, stage directors, choreographers, and just about anyone else involved, however, was historically il direttore d’orchestra e maestro concertatore. This is not to slight a direttore, mind you. That person may come in half-way through the season, for example, and do a large number of performances in outstanding fashion. But the most gratifying part is being that concertatore—pulling together diverse forces and leading that concerted effort in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Rescigno is an Italianate spelling of a name that originated in Spain many generations ago. The “g” before an “n” in Italian (and in French) has an effect like the tilda in Spanish. So the “gn” combination sounds like the “ny” in canyon or the “ñ” in señor. The “sc“ in Italian sounds like “sh” in English. Accent the middle syllable, and you’re ready to go. Rolling your “r” is optional. The maestro adjusts his r’s depending on which language he is speaking.
So... it’s: reh SHEEN yo
The “or” near the end of Concertatore is where the accent falls and it sounds just like the word or in English. The first “c” is hard and the second “c” sounds like the “ch” in church.
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