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Sir Rudolf Bing (January 9, 1902 - September 2, 1997) was an Austrian-born opera impresario. Bing was General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New Yorkmarker from 1950 to 1972. He was knighted in 1971.


Born Rudolph Franz Joseph Bing in Viennamarker, Austro-Hungarian Empire to a well-to-do Jewish family (his father was an industrialist) Bing studied at the University of Viennamarker and as a young man worked in theatrical and concert agencies. In 1927 he went to Berlinmarker, Germanymarker and subsequently served as general manager of opera houses in that city and in Darmstadtmarker.

While in Berlin he married a Russian ballerina, but in 1934, with the rise of Nazi Germany, the Bings moved to Great Britainmarker where, in 1946 he became a naturalised British subject. There he helped to found the Glyndebourne Festival Operamarker and, after the war, organized the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.

In 1949 he went to the United Statesmarker, to become General Manager of the Metropolitan the following year, a post he held for 22 years. He supervised the move of the old Metropolitan to its new quarters in Lincoln Centermarker and his administration presided over one of the great eras of the Met. It was summed up in 1990 by Robert Oestreich in the New York Times as follows:
Wielding his powerful position at the Metropolitan Opera with intense personal charisma over two decades, Sir Rudolf Bing ruled much of the operatic universe in autocratic fashion, nurturing young artists and cutting superstars down to size with equal enthusiasm. He oversaw the abandonment in 1966 of the stately but somewhat dilapidated old Metropolitan Opera House and the construction of a grand monument to his regime, the building the company now occupies, which dominates Lincoln Center. His conservative musical and dramatic bent, preference for Italian opera and concern for theatrical values yielded an identifiable artistic legacy.

During Bing's tenure, Marian Anderson became the first African American to sing at the house.

After leaving the Met, Bing wrote two books, 5000 Nights at the Opera (1972) and A Knight at the Opera (1981).

Personal life

While living in Berlin, Bing married the Russian ballerina Nina Schelemskaya-Schlesnaya in 1928. They remained married until her death in 1983. In January 1987, he married Carroll Douglass, a 45 year-old woman who then took him with her to the Caribbean. However, she had a history of mental illness, and as Bing had been suffering for some years from Alzheimer's disease, an American court eventually declared him incompetent to enter into a marriage contract and annulled the marriage.

In 1989 Roberta Peters and Teresa Stratas arranged for Bing to be admitted to The Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale, Bronx, where he resided until his death.

He died from respiratory failure on September 2, 1997, aged 95 at St. Joseph's Hospital in Yonkers, New Yorkmarker.



  • Bing, Rudolf, 5000 Nights at the Opera: The Memoirs of Sir Rudolf Bing, New York: Doubleday, 1972. ISBN 0-385-09259-8
  • Bing, Rudolf, A Knight at the Opera, New York: Putnam, 1981. ISBN 0-399-12653-8

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