Giuseppe Patanè was a leading conductor of the middle years of the 20th century, particularly well known for his work in opera.
His father was also a conductor, Franco Patanè (1908-1968), who introduced his son to music. Giuseppe studied piano and conducting at the Conservatorio San Pietro à Majella in Naples. While there, he was chosen at the age of 19 to conduct a performance of La Traviata at the Teatro Mercadante in Naples.
He began a typical apprenticeship for a European operatic conductor, serving as a repetiteur and assistant conductor (1951-1956) then moved to become principal conductor in a smaller provincial theater, the Linz Landestheater, in 1961. In the meantime, he began making guest conducting appearances in several European cities.
Successful fulfillment of a leadership role in a small part typically leads to engagement on the conducting staff of a major house in the standard conductors' career path, and in Patanè's case this was as a resident conductor at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin (1962-1968).
He made his conducting debut at La Scala in 1969 in Rigoletto and debuted at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1973 in La forza del destino. He also conducted frequently at the Vienna State Opera, Copenhagen, and San Francisco. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1978.
While best known for opera, he also was highly respected as an orchestral conductor and was co-principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra in New York from 1982 to 1984, chief conductor of the Mannheim National Theater (1984 - 1987), and chief conductor of the Munich Radio Orchestra in 1988. He died suddenly while conducting a performance of Il barbieri di Siviglia at the Bavarian State Opera.
He recorded several operas in the Italian repertory, particularly by Puccini, and several symphonic performances. His style was brilliant, energetic, with a tense, tight line reminiscent of Toscanini. He is particularly known for recordings in which he accompanied soprano Maria Callas.