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Opera Director Kurt Adler

February 10, 1988

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Kurt Herbert Adler, the San Francisco Opera’s general director for 28 years, has died of a heart attack. He was 82.

Adler collapsed at his home in Ross on Tuesday, said Kori Lockhart, the opera’s publication’s editor.

He joined the San Francisco Opera full-time in 1949 and was named general director in 1953, a post he held until his retirement in 1981.

Adler made the San Francisco organization into a ″a world-class opera company,″ said Caroline Crawford, editor of Adler’s oral history at the University of California in Berkeley.

Adler, who was born in Vienna and fled Europe in the Jewish exodus from Hitler, shaped many operatic careers, including those of Leontyne Price and Mary Costa, Crawford said.

″Price considered him her mentor,″ Crawford said.

Adler worked in Salzburg under Arturo Toscanini before leaving Europe and joining the Chicago opera in 1938.

He became an assistant and choral director at the San Francisco opera in 1943, commuting to San Francisco and Chicago from New York, where he was conducting the New York Opera Company.

When he took over the San Francisco opera in 1953, the season ran for five weeks. When he left, it went from Labor Day through December.

He presented several important works in American premieres, including Benjamin Britten’s ″A Midsummer Night’s Dream,″ Strauss’ ″Woman Without a Shadow″ and Francis Poulenc’s ″Dialogues of the Carmelites.″

His awards and honors included the Star of Solidarity from Italy, the Officer’s Cross of Germany and the Great Order of Merit of his native Austria.

Adler is survived by his wife, Nancy, and four children.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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