Fiora Corradetti Contino

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Born on June 17, 1925

Departed on March 5, 2017

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Fiora Corradetti Contino, 91, passed away on March 5, 2017 at Sunrise on Old Meridian, Carmel, Indiana. Operatic, choral, and symphonic conductor, university professor, and vocal coach, she has influenced countless students, professional singers, and conductors. She was born June 17, 1925 into an eminent musical family in New York, NY to Anna (Lisarelli) and Ferruccio Corradetti, leading baritone at La Scala and one of the world’s first recording artists. As a child, her talent was apparent as a pianist and church organist. Fiora’s admission to Oberlin College was supported by a letter of recommendation from renowned conductor, Arturo Toscanini, a contemporary of her father. Upon graduation, she married fellow graduate and musician, Joseph Contino; they had four children. While teaching at Smith College, she founded the Amherst Community Opera Company at the age of 28. In 1958, she pursued conducting studies at the Conservatoire Americain in Fontainebleau and the Ecole Normale in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. Upon Fiora’s return to the states, she completed a doctorate of music at the Indiana University School of Music, and since that time has held conducting, faculty, and administrative positions at Indiana University, Bowling Green State University, Peabody, and the University of Texas at Austin. Fiora’s opera conducting career includes performances at the Aspen Music Festival, Memphis Opera, Anchorage Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, and San Francisco Opera. Fiora enjoyed the last 19 years of her professional conducting career as the artistic director of Opera Illinois in Peoria, a post from which she retired in 2005. Fiora’s career continued into her eighties, when she served as interim director of music at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. At age 91, she was still coaching opera singers who traveled from near and far to work with her.

She is survived by daughters, Lisa Contino, Adriana Contino, and Francesca Levitt (Joseph); son, Frederic L. Contino (Susan); nine grandchildren, Nicholas Ehrmann (Annie), Alison Hager (Chris), Brandon Contino (Mandi), Frederic Contino (Brianna), Anthony Contino (Amanda), Christina Contino, Fiora Aycan, Anna Levitt, Eric Levitt; 14 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her lifelong companion, Jeraldine Baumgartner, as well as her sister, Adriana Corradetti.

Services will be private. Memorial contributions may be made to Music Ministry at Second Presbyterian Church. Arrangements were entrusted to Flanner and Buchanan - Carmel. Friends may share condolences at www.flannerbuchanan.com.

Guestbook Entries

  1. A fan March 7, 2017 at 8:33 am - Reply

    A fan added a photo

  2. Adriana Contino March 6, 2017 at 10:41 am - Reply

    Adriana Contino lit a candle for Fiora Corradetti Contino

  3. Adriana Contino March 6, 2017 at 10:41 am - Reply

    We will miss you mom! Safe journey home?????��?�?????��?�

  4. Bonnie Fuson Smith March 7, 2017 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    Bonnie Fuson Smith lit a candle for Fiora Corradetti Contino

  5. Bonnie Fuson Smith March 7, 2017 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    My sympathy to all of the Contino family upon the passing of your Mother and Grandmother. In our lives as friends with dear Lisa, Diana, and "Franchie" through more than forty years, I remember Fiora as a welcoming, loving lady. And much later as Granddaughter Fiora came to
    our school, I had the pleasure of meeting Fiora again-sometimes in carpool line and sometimes at concerts and performances. How proud she was of all of you. With love, Bonnie

  6. Bruce W. Buchanan March 6, 2017 at 9:07 am - Reply

    There are few things more difficult than dealing with the loss of a loved one. I am honored that you have chosen our family to care for your family during this time. Please let me know if there is more we can do to help celebrate your loved-one’s life.

    My Warmest Regards,

    Bruce W. Buchanan
    4th Generation Owner
    Since 1881

  7. Carolyn Y. Staley March 7, 2017 at 9:37 am - Reply

    What a wonderful, gifted musician and outstanding human being! I was in her chorale at Indiana University and we performed Schonberg’s "Friede auf Erden" one night at the music school. I was so spell-bound by that performance that I didn’t want to talk afterwards, and walked home in quiet and peace. Transformative! She was so kind also. God rest her soul!

  8. Dr. Frieda Holland Gebert March 7, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Fiora was a huge force in my life, someone who changed its course with her guidance and encouragement. I will be forever grateful to have known this remarkable woman.

  9. Dr. Kathleen Weber March 8, 2017 at 6:00 am - Reply

    What wonderful things she taught me as a doctoral student at the University of Texas. I was amazed at every coaching session both there and later in NYC. Every singer should have been lucky enough to know her and to work with her. May her legacy live on through the many musicians she made better. Rest in peace.

  10. Dr. Roger M. Knox March 17, 2017 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    R.I.P. Fiora Corradetti Contino. I had the great fortune to sing in the choir when Maestra Contino conducted the Verdi Requiem at Indiana University, in 1977 I believe. Such passion and insight I have never experienced under any other conductor and I will always remember her. My condolences to the family.
    Roger Knox, Toronto

  11. Eugene Purdue March 7, 2017 at 11:38 am - Reply

    A great musician! Helped me on many levels in many ways. I will never forget the support she gave me. Rest in peace.
    -Gene Purdue

  12. Geoff Lapin March 7, 2017 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Geoff Lapin lit a candle for Fiora Corradetti Contino

  13. James Fudge March 7, 2017 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    More than anything, I do remember Ms. Contino as a warm and wonderful human being. I attended Indiana University in the late 1970s, I think during a period that held immense talent amongst it’s teachers. Fiora Contino will be missed terribly:(

  14. Karen Notare - New Jersey March 6, 2017 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Distance of miles nor the passing of years can ever diminish or extinguish the profound joy and privilege it was to know, make music with, and love Fiora Contino…a trailblazing force of nature whose life force forever propelled her onward to break barriers in her personal and professional life. Joan of Arc once said.."I am not afraid…I was born to do this". How appropriate these words are for our beloved Fiora. She knew that to study and perfect music one must learn the rules but to create music one must break them. A lesson she learned so well from her great teacher Nadia Boulanger. Fiora was a true iconoclast…a woman whose professional and personal definition of herself knew nor would accept any boundaries. Fiora had many great talents but among them was her ability to teach. Her love taught us that you couldn’t give in to all of your whims but that to really bring out the best in yourself you had to learn to love what was difficult. The essential conditions of what you do with your life must be love, passion, and choice. She has forever left an indelible hand print on the hearts and minds of so many people whose lives she touched personally and professionally. Fiora never put the key to her happiness and development in someone else’s pocket. She knew that when you know better you do better. Her full and blessed life was filled with a tremendous love of family from her parents and sister Adriana to her four gorgeous children who are the flowers in her garden. Her family grew to include grandchildren and great grandchildren….the progression of love.
    I extend my deepest sympathy to all of you during this difficult time. I pray that God will comfort all of you in his arms as once your mother did. I love all of you. Although she is gone from this life I can promise you that her light continues to burn brightly in the minds and hearts of all who were lucky enough to know her. Fiora’s life will always be a life well remembered!

  15. Kathy Louis Kee March 7, 2017 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Diana, so sorry for your loss. Sending love and condolences to you and your family.

  16. Keith R. Phelps March 6, 2017 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Fiora came into our lives at Second Presbyterian Church as our interim choral director for the Sanctuary Choir eleven years ago. She brought not only extraordinary musical skills, but a delightful sense of humor that made it such a delight to work together with her. Having been a Catholic all of her life, her introduction to the Reformed Protestant worship traditions was something to behold. As one would expect, she handled the transition with grace and good humor. Our profound sympathy is extended to her family at this time of great loss.

  17. Leah Frey-Rabine (as a student at IU: Leah Beth Frey) lit a candle for Fiora Corradetti Contino

  18. Rev. James M. Evans, Jr. March 12, 2017 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    I was an undergraduate at Indiana University during the early 1970’s and had the good fortune of auditioning for Dr. Contino for placement in one of the vocal ensembles. She must have liked what she heard and I took my place in the ranks of Pro Arte. I think that we all knew that this woman was one extraordinary gift from God to the music world and how fortunate we were then to be under her tutelage. And now, she has gone on…having slipped off into eternity. We are so much the better for her having been here and for our being able to be in her presence even for a short time. Rest in peace, Fiora. The music life in heaven can only be made all the more wonderful by your presence there.
    Rev. James M. Evans, Jr.

  19. sally March 7, 2017 at 11:49 am - Reply

    sally lit a candle for Fiora Corradetti Contino

  20. Sheryl Cohen and Michael Bork March 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    We express our deepest sympathy to the family. We have great sadness at the loss of such a remarkable person. We feel very fortunate to have known Fiora and will treasure all the musical and friendship experiences we had with her. She achieved the highest praise from those in her professional world and made an enormous difference later in her life to the culture of the small town of Peoria. She brought world class Opera to a place that would never have had access to performances like the ones she produced. We will be forever grateful for her influence here.

  21. Sho-mei Pelletier March 7, 2017 at 10:59 am - Reply

    RIP Maestra?�?�?�?�???�?�?�?�?�???�?????????�?�??. You inspired a young violinist at I.U. In the 1970’s, as a Scholarship Violin Student of Josef Gin-gold, to chase my dream of becoming a professional Violinist in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Santa Fe Opera. You were a Mentor, Role-model of STRENGTH, WISDOM, and always had a kind Comment, spiced with wit & Humor!
    I once was so sick, that I couldn’t attend a Dress Rehearsal of the Concert Orchestra at I.U.. you always gave us your personal phone number, for emergencies. I remember how concerned and KIND you were, on the phone, addressing me by 1st name, telling me to stay home, get better and not to worry!
    I met you years later at Texas Tech, as you were Guest Conducting the school Orchestra. You remembered me! My husband was the Bass Professor @ Texas Tech, at the time. He and I were performing in a Faculty Chamber Music concert at Tech. You were such a LIGHT in this world!! Thank-you for the honor & privilege of knowing you! With Loving Condolences,
    Sho-mei Pelletier – Associate-Principal Violin, DSO
    Dwight Shambley – Former Double-bass Professor TRU, DSO Bassist

  22. Sho-mei Pelletier March 7, 2017 at 10:59 am - Reply

    RIP Maestra?�?�?�?�???�?�?�?�?�???�?????????�?�??. You inspired a young violinist at I.U. In the 1970’s, as a Scholarship Violin Student of Josef Gin-gold, to chase my dream of becoming a professional Violinist in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Santa Fe Opera. You were a Mentor, Role-model of STRENGTH, WISDOM, and always had a kind Comment, spiced with wit & Humor!
    I once was so sick, that I couldn’t attend a Dress Rehearsal of the Concert Orchestra at I.U.. you always gave us your personal phone number, for emergencies. I remember how concerned and KIND you were, on the phone, addressing me by 1st name, telling me to stay home, get better and not to worry!
    I met you years later at Texas Tech, as you were Guest Conducting the school Orchestra. You remembered me! My husband was the Bass Professor @ Texas Tech, at the time. He and I were performing in a Faculty Chamber Music concert at Tech. You were such a LIGHT in this world!! Thank-you for the honor & privilege of knowing you! With Loving Condolences,
    Sho-mei Pelletier – Associate-Principal Violin, DSO
    Dwight Shambley – Former Double-bass Professor TRU, DSO Bassist

  23. Susan Morton March 11, 2017 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Susan Morton lit a candle for Fiora Corradetti Contino

  24. Susie Buzan May 31, 2017 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Adriana, It is with much sadness that I write to you this message. I know how much you must miss the presence of your mother. She is such a treasure of the history of the IU School of Music. This is a time for you to experience your loss, and may God wrap you and your family in his arms, as you work your way through the grief.

    With warm love and regards,
    Susie Buzan

  25. Virginia Merkel March 7, 2017 at 10:02 am - Reply

    Fiora was the perfect person to act as out interim! Her great sense of humor and skilled conducting sustained us until she gifted us with Shelle. You are all in my prayers during this difficult time. Ginger Merkel

  26. vocedimyra@aol.com March 6, 2017 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Fiora Contino gave us an everlasting gift…herself. A force of nature was wrapped in that small package…masterful symphony, opera, and choral conductor, vocal and interpretive coach, pianist, professor, long-time head of her own opera company, and an unbelievably infectious joy for living. These immense talents, her genorisity, her great sense of humor, her devotion and love for her family, friends and colleagues…the help she so willinging gave to others…all of these are the sum of what made a great woman…a great human being. We all have a huge hole in our hearts at your passing, Fiora, but what you gave us and the legacy you left us, will live on forever and continue to bear fruit. I, for one, will never forget that incredible twinkle in your eyes, that mischievous all-knowing smile, and singing under that magic baton. My deepest sympathy to the family…I love you all…Fiora often spoke of you as her special blessing in life.
    Myra Cordell Bagnoli
    New York

  27. Susan Morton May 6, 2018 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Candle 1As one who knew and collaborated with Fiora in her later years, I grew to admire, love and respect her for her humanity, directness, musical insights, patience and love of teaching and of passing forward the great store of knowledge she herself possessed.

    Her ways of seeing and thinking about music were like gold and it consoles me a great deal to know that in my daily life as a coach and teacher I am passing on so many of the things I learned from her. I am so fortunate to have known her. I wish her family continued comfort. She will live on in the grateful musical hearts of many.

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