“He took this Central German theater in Essen and he turned it, in 17 years, into among the finest ensemble houses in Europe, and he turned the Essen Philharmonic into an absolute A-grade orchestra,” the Australian opera director Barrie Kosky, who collaborated with Mr. Soltesz on 4 productions on the Aalto Theater within the early 2000s, said on Saturday after learning of Mr. Soltesz’s death. Mr. Kosky was speaking from Salzburg, Austria, where he was rehearsing a latest production of Janacek’s “Kat’a Kabanova” that he’s directing next month on the Salzburg Festival.
During his profession, Mr. Soltesz also led performances throughout Asia, and in 1992, he made his United States debut with the National Opera with a performance of Verdi’s “Otello” on the Kennedy Center in Washington. Mr. Soltesz is survived by his wife, Michaela Selinger, a mezzo soprano.
“He was a really fantastic, refined musician, and music, , was first. He got here second,” Mr. Dorny, a Belgian impresario who said he had known Mr. Soltesz because the Nineteen Nineties when he ran the Festival of Flanders, said on Saturday.
“He was the right diener for the art form,” Mr. Dorny added, using the German word for servant.
On Friday night, Mr. Soltesz was conducting a revival of Mr. Kosky’s 2010 production of Strauss’s rarely performed “The Silent Woman,” as a part of the Bavarian State Opera’s summer festival. Mr. Soltesz had previously led other revivals of the production. And it was considered one of several throughout Germany that he and Mr. Kosky had worked on together.
“He was a tremendous musician,” Mr. Kosky said, singling out Mr. Soltesz’s interpretations of Strauss for prime praise, adding, “He understood the thought of orchestra accompanying, and understood the thought of the architecture of an act — or a three-act opera. He understood that, and he was at home within the pits. That was his home.”
“In a world of dilettantes,” Mr. Kosky said, “he was the true thing.”