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Marcello Viotti, at 50; orchestra, opera conductor

BERLIN -- Marcello Viotti, the music director of Venice's famed La Fenice Theater who also conducted at New York's Metropolitan Opera and other leading houses, died at a German hospital after lapsing into a coma. He was 50.

Mr. Viotti died Wednesday night after being in a coma for several days at a clinic in Munich, his agent, Paul Steinhauser, said by telephone from Vienna.

Mr. Viotti, music director at La Fenice since 2002, conducted several renowned orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic and the English Chamber Orchestra.

He also conducted at opera houses around the world, including Milan's La Scala, the Met, and the Vienna State Opera.

Mr. Viotti studied piano, cello, and voice at the Lausanne Conservatory and made his conducting debut in nearby Geneva with a wind ensemble that he founded.

He rose to prominence as chief conductor of the Turin Opera. He also served as artistic director of the Lucerne Stadttheater in Switzerland and conducted orchestras in the German cities of Saarbruecken and Leipzig.

At La Fenice, Mr. Viotti won acclaim for his production of Massenet's "Thais."

His other productions at the storied Venice opera included Verdi's "La Traviata" and Strauss's "Ariadne auf Naxos."

Mr. Viotti made his debut at the Met in 2000 with Giacomo Puccini's "Madame Butterfly." He recently conducted a production of Verdi's "Aida" there.

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