Stefan Soltész, still wiry and graceful in appearance even in his early seventies, liked to get down to business: musically and verbally.
As a conductor, he was more interested in the drastic combination of instinct and death in Richard Strauss' “Salome” than in the sophistication of the perfume;
in Giuseppe Verdi's “Falstaff” one heard more the burlesque behavior that did not conform to his age than the ecstasy of superior wisdom.
At the end of his sixteen-year tenure as artistic director and general music director of the Aalto Theater in Essen, when asked that the house under his direction was “not a petting zoo”, he replied with his Hungarian compatriot and colleague George Szell: “You can’t be a good conductor and also a nice guy.
If you keep demanding quality in a strict and unyielding manner, it can happen that you are called a brute and a tyrant.
You have to live with that.
I've never tried to win a popularity test as a conductor."
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Nonetheless, Soltész, born on January 6, 1949 in Nyíregyháza in north-eastern Hungary, was one of the most sought-after opera conductors in Germany and Austria.
The successes of his tenure in Essen culminated in the choice of the Aalto Theater as the opera house of the year 2008 by the specialist magazine "Opernwelt" because Soltész was not only a hands-on orchestra teacher, but at the same time a prudent singer leader and a spirited adventurer, which was the choice of the Plays as the directors were concerned.
The performances of Alban Berg's "Lulu" brought high occupancy rates to his house;
Dietrich Hilsdorf was repeatedly allowed to expect a lot from the audience.
The cultural policy was grateful because the box office seemed to justify the subsidies.
As a child, Soltész sang with the Vienna Boys' Choir and then studied conducting with Hans Swarowsky, whose students also included Zubin Mehta and Daniel Barenboim.
He himself was repeatedly invited to major houses such as the Vienna State Opera, the Semperoper Dresden and the Frankfurt Opera to rehearse premieres.
In recent years he has often been seen at the Komische Oper Berlin, where Barrie Kosky held him in high esteem.
On Friday evening, Stefan Soltész conducted Richard Strauss's "The Silent Woman" at the Bavarian State Opera at the Munich Opera Festival.
During the performance he suddenly collapsed, so the performance had to be stopped.
"With horror and great sadness" the State Opera announced the death of the conductor a little later.
The artistic director Serge Dorny explained: “We are losing a gifted conductor.
i lose a good friend
My thoughts are with his wife Michaela.”