Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tito Capobianco Loses Wife of 55 Years To Illness

Gigi and Tito Capobianco, known as
a famous duo in the opera world.
The opera world has suffered a devastating loss with the death of Gigi Capobianco. The dancer-turned-opera director and choreographer was the wife of legendary Tito Capobianco. Together the two formed the most memorable opera productions in the United States including the "Three Queens" trilogy of Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux featuring soprano Beverly Sills. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut choreographing Massenet's Thaïs in 1978, also featuring Ms. Sills in the title role.

"Piangete Voi...Al dolce guidami...Coppia iniqua"
Donizetti Anna Bolena (Beverly Sills)

"Elena 'Gigi' Capobianco was a prima ballerina in her youth in her native Argentina, but she graciously put herself second to her husband Tito Capobianco's career as an opera director. Yet "Tito y Gigi" was a better description of the couple who worked together on more than 250 opera productions. Her exacting standards gave him feedback whether informally as an assistant or officially as his stage director and choreographer around the world, including his tenure as general director of the Pittsburgh Opera from 1983 to 1998. 'At his productions, she would sit in the back of the theater watching things and they would go home and trade notes,' said her son, Danilo Capobianco. 'Any arguments and disagreements were for the benefit of the product. My Mom saw things as analytical and he from the heart. It was a good combination.' 'She was an unstoppable inspiration who never gave up in her obsession for excellence and beauty,' said Mr. Capobianco. She died Wednesday in Lutz, Fla., of a long-term fight with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She was 77."

"Born Elena Denda in Mendoza, Argentina, Mrs. Capobianco was accepted into the National Conservatory of Dance in Buenos Aires when she was 8, and in her late teens was a prima donna for the Teatro Colon School of Dance as well as the Teatro Argentino De La Plata. It was at the latter theater that she met Mr. Capobianco, in a way that typified their passion for theater and their strong opinions. 'My dad was in charge of the stage there and he constantly wrote her up for smoking in the wings,' says her son. That sparked another kind of fire, and the two were married in 1955. In the mid-1960s and early 1970s, Mr. Capobianco's career took off with several productions at New York City Opera starring Beverly Sills. Ms. Capobianco grew close to the renowned soprano and soon became an stage adviser and makeup artist to her, including for Ms. Sill's famous appearance dressed as Queen Elizabeth on the cover of Time Magazine in 1971. 'She had a sharp eye and perfect sense of what could be right or wrong on the stage,' said Jim Agras, a board member of the Pittsburgh Opera. Her background in dance informed her choreography, but she also passed it down as a teacher in numerous schools, including National Conservatory in Madrid, Yale University and Duquesne University. In addition to her husband of 55 years; she is survived by two sons, Danilo of Lutz and Renato Capobianco of Boston; a brother, Jorge Denda of Buenos Aires; and two grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 9 a.m. April 26 at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Lutz. [Source]

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