Sir Rudolf Bing
– September 2
) was an Austrian-born opera impresario
. Bing was General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera
in New York
from 1950 to 1972. He was knighted
Born Rudolph Franz Joseph Bing
, Austro-Hungarian Empire
to a well-to-do Jewish family (his father was an industrialist) Bing studied at the University of Vienna
and as a young man worked in theatrical and concert agencies. In 1927 he went to Berlin
and subsequently served as general manager of opera houses in that city and in Darmstadt
While in Berlin, he married a Russian ballerina, but in 1934, with the rise of Nazi Germany, the Bings moved to Great Britain where, in 1946 he became a naturalised British subject. There he helped to found the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and, after the war, organized the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.
In 1949 he went to the United States, to become General Manager of the Metropolitan the following year, a post he held for 22 years. He supervised the move of the old Metropolitan to its new quarters in Lincoln Center and his administration was, by any account, one of the great eras of Metropolitan Opera. It was summed up as follows:
- Wielding his powerful position at the Metropolitan Opera with intense personal charisma over two decades, Sir Rudolf Bing ruled much of the operatic universe in autocratic fashion, nurturing young artists and cutting superstars down to size with equal enthusiasm. He oversaw the abandonment in 1966 of the stately but somewhat dilapidated old Metropolitan Opera House and the construction of a grand monument to his regime, the building the company now occupies, which dominates Lincoln Center. His conservative musical and dramatic bent, preference for Italian opera and concern for theatrical values yielded an identifiable artistic legacy.
During Bing's tenure, Marian Anderson became the first African American to sing at the house.
After leaving the Met, Bing wrote two books, 5000 Nights at the Opera (1972) and A Knight at the Opera (1981).
His wife Nina died in 1983. In January 1987, he married again and his wife took him to the Caribbean. However, she was reportedly unbalanced, and as he himself had been suffering for many years from Alzheimer's disease, an American court eventually declared him incompetent to enter into a marriage contract and annulled the marriage.
In 1989 Roberta Peters
and Teresa Stratas
arranged for Bing to be admitted to The Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale, Bronx
, where he resided until his death.
He died from respiratory failure
on September 2 1997
, aged 95 at St. Joseph's Hospital in Yonkers, New York
- Bing, Rudolf, 5000 Nights at the Opera: The Memoirs of Sir Rudolf Bing, New York: Doubleday, 1972. ISBN 0-385-09259-8
- Bing, Rudolf, A Knight at the Opera, New York: Putnam, 1981. ISBN 0-399-12653-8
- James R. Oestreich, "For Rudolf Bing at 88, Operatic Drama Lingers", New York Times, 11 March 1990
- James R. Oestreich, "Rudolf Bing, Titan of the Met, Dies at 95", New York Times, 3 September 1997