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Georges Pretre

Georges Pretre

(Born August 24 1924)


Georges Prêtre is a French symphony and opera conductor.

He was born in Waziers.

His early interests included jazz and trumpet. Initially conducting in a number of small French opera houses sometimes under the pseudonym Georges Dherain he made his debut at the Opéra de Marseille in 1946.

His Paris debut was at the Opéra-Comique conducting Richard Strauss' "Capriccio". Following a stint at the Opéra-Comique he conducted the Lyric Opera of Chicago before being appointed as music director at the Paris Opéra. He served as principal conductor of the Vienna Symphony from 1986 to 1991.

He debuted at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1961, and first appearances followed at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and La Scala, Milan.

He also achieved added recognition working with Maria Callas on a number of occasions, making recordings of Carmen and Tosca with her.

The Grammy Award winning recording of Tosca with Callas, Gobbi and Bergonzi was originally intended to be the soundtrack of a movie of Callas's Tosca- but the movie was shelved.

Many stories abound about the failure of the project to get off the ground- some say Corelli was originally mooted to play Cavaradossi and time to line them both up for the film could not be reached- other stories say Callas rejected the idea - but suffice to say that to this day, the recording remains one of the most vibrant and dramatic recordings of any opera ever made.

Aside from opera, Prêtre is best known for performances of French music, particularly long difficult works like Debussy's "La Mer" and Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloé".

He is especially associated with Francis Poulenc, giving the premiere of his opera La Voix Humaine at the Opéra-Comique in 1959.

He also conducted the La Scala Orchestra in 1982 in Franco Zeffirelli's film versions of Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" and Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci".

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