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This Italian musical prodigy made history time after time


Did you know that the first female conductor of La Scala was an Italian? Speranza Scappucci was born on April 9, 1973. The Italian conductor and pianist was the first woman to conduct an opera at La Scala in 2019. The artist fell in love with music when she was 4. Her parents were both in the communications field. Her father was a Vatican journalist and her mother was a high school English teacher. They brought her to many concerts as a child and fostered her musical passion which led to her first piano lesson. She graduated from the esteemed Santa Cecilia Conservatoria a Roma. Santa Cecilia is the patron saint of all musicians and the namesake of this institute. This is the only academy of its kind to have its origin in the Renaissance. Today it has been transformed into a modern organization that impacts Italian society today as some of the alumni can attest. Ennio Morricone was a graduate and the Institute has memorialized his legacy with the Auditorium Parco della Musica Ennio Morricone.

After her graduation at Santa Cecilia she decided to pursue her studies abroad. Scappucci was chosen as one of 12 out of 500 pianists that were accepted at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She helped many students with their Italian pronunciation and led to opera coaching and her degree in M.M. (Master of Music in Performance) in 1997.

She decided to become a rehearsal pianist at the Metropolitan in New York. She not only surpassed that goal at the Met but also acted in the same role at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera House and later she became an assistant to her eventual mentor, Riccardo Muti. He was the Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1980-1992. She assisted him for eight years at the Salzburg festival and credits him to helping her find her classical voice.

And from Nov. 10 to Dec. 29 of this year, she will star in 14 performances of “Rigoletto” at the Metropolitan in New York.

Scappucci has achieved many firsts in her unrivaled career: the first female conductor for the students’ orchestra at Yale conducting Cosi Fan Tutti in 2012. First female conductor at the Scottish Opera in 2014 and the first female conductor at the Santa Fe Opera in 2015.

She reached her ultimate goal in 2019 when she debuted at La Scala with Bellin’s I Capuleti e I Montecchi. She always repeated to herself, “You will arrive when you will be right.”

Adesso lo sa. 

Lou Thomas

Lou Thomas was born and raised in Philadelphia, in a family with origins in Abruzzo. He is a Temple graduate who has been teaching Italian for 20 years at all levels. He attained a master’s degree in teaching Italian from Rutgers University. The sounds of Vivaldi and Jovanotti fill his classroom. His favorite quote is Il vino e’ la poesia della terra.

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