Anton Coppola, the longtime opera conductor and composer and eldest member of the creative clan that includes filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, his nephew, and actors Talia Shire, his niece, and Nicholas Cage, his grandnephew, has died at 102.
Coppola, who as a boy chorister sang in the US premiere of Puccini’s “Turandot” in 1926, and years later wrote a completion of the opera left unfinished by its composer, pursued a musical career of more than 80 years, still working after he turned 100.
He conducted at a number of opera companies – notably the New York City Opera and Opera Tampa, which he founded in 1995 and led until 2012 – and several Broadway shows, composed several operas (the best-known was “Sacco and Vanzetti,” introduced in Tampa in 2001), and taught for many years at the Manhattan School of Music. He appeared as conductor of Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” toward the end of his nephew’s “Godfather III.”
Coppola will be remembered locally for conducting the Richmond Symphony and Symphony Chorus in Verdi’s Requiem in 1997. “This is as close as you’ll get today to hearing [Arturo] Toscanini,” George Manahan, a Coppola pupil who at the time was the symphony’s music director, said in an interview published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch before his old teacher’s performances.
An obituary by The New York Times’ Daniel J. Wakin: