Ionel (Jonel) Perlea (December 13, 1900 - July 29, 1970) was a great Romanian conductor particularly associated with the Italian and German opera repertories.
Ionel Perlea was born in Ograda on December 13th 1900, of a German mother and a Romanian father. That he was talented was already clear when he was still a young boy and was sent to Munich where he received his musical education, studying with the German pedagogue Anton Beer-Walbrunn, and at the Leipzig Conservatory of Music (Leipziger Musikhochschule) with Paul Graener and Otto Lohse, all three were strongly interested in opera. Then he worked as répétiteur in Leipzig (1922-23) and Rostock (1923-25), and made his debut as conductor in Cluj-Napoca in 1927, in Aida.
In 1934 Perlea was appointed General Manager and Musical Director of the Bucharest Opera, he gave concerts with the Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra and was a professor in composition at the Royal Academy of Music of Romania. At the same time he toured Europe as a guest conductor of the major orchestras.
After World War II, he settled down at Italy's great opera house, La Scala in Milan, where he conducted a wide variety of operas. In 1949 he made a successful debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, conducting Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde'. A season with the San Francisco Opera Company, several broadcasts of concerts as a guest conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra and the musical directorship of the 1951 Grand Opera Festival at San Antonio, Texas, followed. In 1952 he was appointed to the Manhattan School of Music.
In 1955 he made his debut as conductor of the Connecticut Symphony and two years later took up the post of principal conductor of that orchestra. He led the Connecticut Symphony for ten years. His contract was not renewed. Jonel Perlea had become partially paralyzed from a stroke, and was forced to conduct with his left hand. The main reason for his leaving the orchestra however was the financial situation of the Connecticut Symphony Orchestra which was then renamed Greater Bridgeport Symphony.
On July 29, 1970, Jonel Perlea died at the age of 69 in New York.
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