Rescigno's official debut came in 1943 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where he led a performance of La Traviata. He steadily built his career thereafter, working first in smaller opera houses. By the early '50s he was an international figure on the opera scene. He co-founded (with Lawrence V. Kelly and Carol Fox) the Chicago Lyric Opera in 1953, and then served as its music director (1954-1956).
In 1957 he co-founded (again with Kelly) the Dallas Opera, initially called the Dallas Civic Opera, serving as principal conductor and artistic director until 1990. Except for Callas, whom he introduced to the U.S. in Chicago in 1953, it was in Dallas that Rescigno oversaw the U.S. debuts of so many opera stars, including Domingo and Sutherland. Rescigno's debut at the Met came relatively late in his career -- 1978 -- when he led a performance of Donizetti's Don Pasquale, with Beverly Sills among the principals. With the appointment of Plato Karayanis as general director of the Dallas Opera in 1977, Rescigno gradually became disenchanted with the progressive changes Karayanis introduced. Rescigno departed in 1990 and spent most of his remaining years in Viterbo, Italy.