Vienna Opera director collapses during Wagner performance

Vienna Opera's musical director Franz Welser-Moest collapsed while conducting a Wagner opera after suffering a severe attack of lumbago when he raised his baton, the prestigious opera house said Monday.

The 52-year-old slumped onto his conductor's podium Sunday at the end of the first act of the 4.5-hour long "Parsifal".

He was hospitalised but was able to return home later the same evening.

The opera continued after a colleague stepped in for Welser-Moest, who is also director of the Cleveland Orchestra in the United States.

The Austrian trained as a violinist before becoming a conductor and has worked with some of the most respected orchestras around the world, including the philharmonic orchestras of Vienna and Berlin, the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, and the Orchestras of Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles and New York.

He was voted the "orchestra chief of the year 2003" by the magazine Musical America.