Modern Italian composer Luciano Berio, who forged a three-work commission with the Los Angeles Opera in 2000, died Tuesday in Rome. He was 77.
Berio, chairman and superintendent of Rome’s St. Cecilia music academy, was admitted to the Gemelli hospital on Monday, had recently been treated in another hospital for a spinal problem and had been suffering from injuries incurred in a car accident 18 months ago.
In September 2000, the L.A. Opera announced Berio had been commissioned to do three works: a new ending for Puccini’s “Turandot”; new orchestrations for Monteverdi’s “Coronation of Poppea”; and a new opera about the life of a famous tenor, assumed to be based on L.A. Opera general director Placido Domingo. Only the “Turandot” was ever staged. In January it replaced the scheduled “Coronation,” the delay of which was blamed on Berio never fully recovering from injuries sustained in the car accident 18 months prior. L.A. Opera music director Kent Nagano had plans to travel to Italy in June to review the work with the composer.
Born in the Ligurian coast town of Oneglia, Berio worked for Italian state-run broadcaster RAI from 1953 to 1960. In 1955, he founded the Studio di Fonologia, Italy’s first studio for electro-acoustic music, at RAI in Milan.
Known for his innovations in electronic music and vocal music compositions, the Siemens Prize winner taught in the U.S. at Julliard, Tanglewood, Mills College and Harvard and in Europe at Darmstadt and Dartington. Berio also composed music for works by ee cummings and James Joyce.
He was married to American mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian 1950-65 and wrote many works for her. He was married 1965-1977 to psychologist Susan Oyama and since 1977 was married to musicologist Talia Pecker, who has written texts for several of his recent works.