The following was written by Maria Anastasio and Benita Sampedro of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Dr. Antonio Cao, associate professor of Spanish, passed away on April 23.
Dr. Antonio Cao was born in Havana, Cuba, where he attended St. George’s School. After arriving in the United States, he earned a BA from the University of Miami, a master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a PhD from Harvard University. He taught at Harvard and at Vassar College before joining the full-time faculty at Hofstra University in 1983, becoming a member of the Department of Spanish, which later became part of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.
Dr. Cao was author of Federico García Lorca y las Vanguardias (Hacia el teatro) (London: Tamesis, 1984), in addition to dozens of articles and book chapters on Latino theater, the plays of the Spanish Golden Age, and 19th- and 20th-century Cuban and Spanish narrative and poetry. He was a true scholar. He was fluent in at least four languages and learned in a plethora of artistic disciplines, including art history and ballet. His passion was always opera – until the very end of his life, he regularly attended performances at the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City.
He was an active member of the community of scholars specializing in Spanish and Latin American literature, and participated in countless conferences both in the United States and abroad. He served as president of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NEMLA) and of the Association of Spanish Professionals in America (ALDEEU). He was also a longstanding board member of the Cuban Cultural Center of New York and of the Instituto Internacional in Madrid.
His love for the classroom was unsurpassed, and until the last months of his illness he did not lose hope that he would be able to return to teach at Hofstra and share his extraordinary love for the arts with students. Every year he provided his classes with the opportunity to experience theater in Spanish and organized frequent trips to the Repertorio Español (the Latino Theater of New York). Among his innumerable contributions to Hofstra, he was one of the founding members of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program (LACS), and brought many guest speakers to enrich intellectual life on campus.
Dr. Cao will be sorely missed by his students, colleagues, and his many friends in the academic community in Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in the theater world, and in opera circles, where he was deeply respected and loved.