The conductor Stefan Soltész collapsed during a performance at the Munich National Theater and then died. With horror and great sadness, the Bavarian State Opera announced the death of the 73-year-old, it said from the house. The incident happened on Friday evening in front of a nearly sold-out house while Soltész was conducting Richard Strauss’s opera “The Silent Woman”.

“Shortly before the end of the first act, Mr. Soltész collapsed in the ditch,” spokesman Michael Wuerges described the dramatic scenes. “He was then immediately cared for by the audience and the theater doctor.” The spokesman did not want to give any information about the cause of death of the Hungarian native.

The hall, in which almost 2000 people were sitting, had been cleared. “And after the break, the performance was finally stopped.” That was around 8:20 p.m., the performance had started at 7:05 p.m.

Operagoers also reported on social media that Soltész had apparently fallen to the ground. There was a loud bang and a doctor was called.

“The news of the collapse and death of Stefan Soltész makes me deeply sad,” said director Serge Dorny. “We are losing a gifted conductor. I am losing a good friend. My thoughts are with his wife Michaela,” Dorny wrote on Twitter .

Born in Hungary, Soltesz studied conducting, composition and piano at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. After positions as a conductor in Vienna and Graz and as a musical assistant to Karl Böhm, Christoph von Dohnányi and Herbert von Karajan at the Salzburg Festival, he was conductor of the Hamburg State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and general music director at the Braunschweig State Theater.

From 1992 to 1997 Soltesz was chief conductor of the Flemish Opera in Antwerp/Gent, from 1997 to 2013 general music director of the Essen Philharmonic and artistic director of the Aalto Music Theater, as the Bavarian State Opera further announced. In addition, many guest conductors have been added.

Those responsible for the State Opera also had an appreciation of the musician. First, the Bavarian State Orchestra had a minute’s silence during a rehearsal on Saturday, the next two performances, “Capriccio” and “Der Rosenkavalier” are dedicated to him.

“When great artists die, sometimes not only a life but also an era irrevocably comes to an end,” writes the Deutsche Oper Berlin on Soltész’ death, which marks such a point. The 73-year-old is probably the last representative of the Austrian- Hungarian Kapellmeister tradition, which had a lasting influence on the conducting profession in the 20th century.

Soltész’s conducting was considered thrilling, he was not interested in quick fame. The Bavarian State Opera honors the exceptional musician as a “craftsman at the head of an orchestra, a guarantee of respect” – for the composer, but also for the musicians of the orchestra and the singers on stage. “He was an extraordinarily sensitive conductor who made the scores crystal clear and appreciated the intimacy of the music.” This earned him the respect of all the musicians in the orchestras he conducted.

“We are losing a conductor to whom we owe countless musical moments of glory,” comments Dagmar Schlingmann, General Manager at the Staatstheater Braunschweig. “A true master,” says the General Music Director of the Braunschweig State Orchestra, Srba Dinic.

Merle Fahrholz, director of the Aalto Music Theater and the Essen Philharmonic from the coming season, says: “The high level with which the orchestra regularly inspires our audience is not least due to the many years of work of my predecessor.”

Visitors to the Berlin Opera remember a similarly tragic incident more than 20 years ago in the Deutsche Oper on Bismarckstrasse. Giuseppe Sinopoli, 54 years old, conducted Verdi’s opera “Aida” on April 20, 2001. During the performance, which he wanted to understand with a dedication in the program booklet as a gesture of reconciliation after years of argument with the director Götz Friedrich, who had died in the meantime, he suffered a heart attack. Shortly thereafter he died in hospital.