He conducted also at the opera houses in Lille and Toulouse. His Paris debut was at the Opéra-Comique in Richard Strauss' Capriccio. He was director of the Opéra-Comique 1955-1959. He conducted at the Lyric Opera of Chicago 1959-1971.
He was conductor, 1959, and music director 1970-1971, at the Paris Opéra. He was principal conductor of the Vienna Symphony 1986-1991. His Royal Opera House, Covent Garden debut came in 1961, with first appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, and La Scala, Milan, later in the 1960s. He worked with Maria Callas on a number of occasions, and made recordings of Carmen and Tosca with her. For a time he was music director of the Paris Opera. Aside from opera, Prêtre is best known for performances of French music, having conducted long and difficult works like Debussy's La Mer and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé without a score (i.e.
from memory). He is especially associated with Francis Poulenc, giving the premiere of his opera La voix humaine at the Opéra-Comique in 1959 and his Sept répons des ténèbres in 1963. In 1999 he gave a series of concerts in Paris to celebrate the centenary of Poulenc's birth. In 1988 Marcel Landowski dedicated his Fourth Symphony to Prêtre. He also conducted the La Scala Orchestra in Franco Zeffirelli's 1982 film versions of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci.
Both films starred Placido Domingo. Prêtre has conducted the Vienna New Year's Concert twice, in 2008 and in 2010. He is the only French conductor to have been appointed for this role so far. Prêtre married Gina Marny in 1950, and they have two children (one son, one daughter). Interests include riding, swimming, aviation, judo, and karate. Prêtre died in France on 4 January 2017, aged 92. Read more on Last.fm.
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