Conductors: In the Wrist

In the past decade, four of the most widely praised new Metropolitan Opera productions—Mozart's Don Giovanni, Berg's Wozzeck, Strauss's Salome and Die Frau ohne Schatten—all had one element in common: Conductor Karl Böhm. It was hardly coincidence. Long recognized as one of the world's foremost maestros, Böhm helped lead the way in elevating his profession to its rightfully high place in opera. Now 72, he dates his career back to the days when many opera houses did not even bother to list the conductor's name on the program. By contrast, his appearances at the Met this season, especially his...

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