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Conductor Sinopoli dies on the podium
Italian conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli has died after suffering a massive heart attack during a performance of Verdi’s Aida in Berlin.

Sinopoli, who was 54, was on the rostrum at the Deutsche Oper when he dropped his baton and collapsed in the third act, reports BBC Online News.

He was rushed to hospital, but doctors were unable to save him and pronounced him dead early on Saturday morning.

The music world reacted with shock. Organisers of the Wagner Festival at Bayreuth in Germany, where Sinopoli was to conduct the Ring Cycle later this year, said they were "dejected and stunned". They have just over three months to find a replacement for what is one of the most gruelling jobs in the opera world.

Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato paid tribute to Sinopoli as a leading light of Italian culture.

Giuseppe Sinopoli had worked at the world’s major music venues, amongst them the New York Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, the Paris Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

He was born in Venice in 1946, and studied music at the city's conservatory, but at the same time took a degree in medicine at the nearby University of Padua, including doctoral dissertations on criminal anthropology and on the physiology of the acoustic mental area.

Deciding eventually to pursue a musical career, he was appointed chief conductor at Rome's St Cecilia National Academy in 1983, and a year later took up the same post at the city's Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1985 he made his debut at the Met with Puccini's Tosca and at Bayreuth with Tannhauser by Wagner. He went to lead the Deutche Oper in 1990 and in 1992 took over as musical director of Dresden’s Staatskapelle orchestra.

Tue May 1 2001 (11:07:07 AM)