Roberto Abbado, awarded the prestigious “Premio Abbiati” by the Italian Music Critics Association for his “accomplished interpretative maturity, the extent and the peculiarity of a repertoire where he has offered remarkable results through an intense season”, is Musical Director of Parma’s Festival Verdi and from 2022 is the Chief Conductor of the Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna. He studied orchestra conducting under Franco Ferrara at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, where he was invited – the only student in the history of the Academy – to lead the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia. He made his debut in the United States in 1991 in New York conducting the St. Luke’s Orchestra. Since then he has returned regularly to the US to lead the Symphonic Orchestras of the cities of Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, San Francisco, as well as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra – of which he is one of the “Artistic Partners” – working with soloists like Yo-Yo Ma, Midori, Nigel Kennedy, Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Vadim Repin, Sarah Chang, Yefim Bronfman, Mitsuko Uchida, Alfred Brendel, Radu Lupu, André Watts, Andras Schiff, Lang-Lang, and Katia and Marielle Labèque.
He was Musical Director of the Münchner Rundfunkorchester from 1991 to 1998, and of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia from 2015 to 2019. He has worked with many ensembles, including Amsterdam’s Concertgebouworkest, the Wiener Symphoniker, the Orchestre national de France, the Orchestre de Paris, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Gewandhausorchester and the MDR-Sinfonieorchester (Leipzig), the NDR Sinfonieorchester (Hamburg), the Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester (Stockholm), the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia, the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai, the Filarmonica della Scala, the Orchestra of Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid.
Roberto Abbado has conducted numerous world premieres and new opera productions, including Fedora and Ernani at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York; I vespri siciliani at the Wiener Staatsoper; La Gioconda, Lucia di Lammermoor, La donna del lago, and the world premiere of Fabio Vacchi’s Teneke at La Scala; L’amour des trois oranges, Aida and La traviata at the Bayerische Staatsoper; Le Comte Ory, Attila, I Lombardi alla prima crociata, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Henze’s Phaedra – at its Italian premiere – and Anna Bolena at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; Don Giovanni at the Deutsche Oper Berlin; Simon Boccanegraand La clemenza di Tito at the Teatro Regio of Turin; La donna del lago at the Opéra Garnier in Paris; Ermione, Zelmira, and Mosè in Egitto at the Rossini Opera Festival; the Italian premiere of Marschner’s Der Vampyr at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, and more recently the world premiere of Arianna, Fedra e Didone at the Festival di Spoleto, Le Trouvère and Luisa Miller at the Festival Verdi in Parma.
A passionate interpreter of contemporary music, Abbado’s repertoire includes composers like Luciano Berio, Bruno Maderna, Goffredo Petrassi, Sylvano Bussotti, Niccolò Castiglioni, Azio Corghi, Ivan Fedele, Luca Francesconi, Giorgio Battistelli, Michele dall’Ongaro, Giacomo Manzoni, Salvatore Sciarrino, Fabio Vacchi, Pascal Dusapin, Henri Dutilleux, Olivier Messiaen, Alfred Schnittke, Hans Werner Henze, Helmut Lachenmann, John Adams, Ned Rorem, Christopher Rouse, Steven Stucky, Charles Wuorinen and Silvia Colasanti.
Particularly significant are his symphonic tours with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (Spain 2005), the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Europe 2006), the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (Europe 2007), the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Bucarest Enescu Festival 2009), the Orchestra Verdi di Milano (Switzerland 2009), the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo (Russia 2011), and the Boston Symphony Orchestra (USA, East Coast 2011).
During the past seasons he conducted La Favorite at the Salzburg Festival (starring Juan Diego Flórez and Elīna Garanča); Don Pasquale, Samson et Dalila, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I vespri siciliani, Tancredi, La damnation de Faust, I masnadieri, Rigoletto and Lucia di Lammermoor at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia; La Gioconda, Maometto II, Lucia di Lammermoor, Benvenuto Cellini, Andrea Chénier and I masnadieri at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma; Norma at the Teatro Regio in Turin; he has opened two seasons of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna conducting Macbeth (staged by Bob Wilson) and Parsifal (staged by Romeo Castellucci); Così fan tutte at the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari; La traviata (staged by Ferzan Özpetek) on a tour to Hong Kong with the Teatro di San Carlo of Naples, Rigoletto and Lucia di Lammermoor at New York Metropolitan; Simon Boccanegra on a tour to Hong Kong with Turin’s Teatro Regio; Norma at the Teatro Real in Madrid; La Traviata at the Shanghai Opera House; Lucia di Lammermoor at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris; Don Pasquale at Ópera de Bilbao; Le siège de Corinthe at the Rossini Opera Festival, Lucia di Lammermoor at the Opéra de Monte Carlo.
More recently he conducted the New Year’s Concert and I puritani at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma; Lucia di Lammermoor at the Teatro Massimo di Palermo; Macbeth, Messa da Requiem, Un ballo in maschera (Gustavo III) and the Divertissements from Nabucco premiered in modern times in a symphonic concert at the Festival Verdi in Parma and La Cenerentola at the LA Opera.
His recordings include Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (nominated “Best Recording of the Year” by the BBC Magazine in 1999), Rossini’s Tancredi (winner of the “Echo Klassik Deutsche Schallplattenpreis” in 1997), Don Pasquale with Eva Mei and Renato Bruson, Turandot with Eva Marton, Ben Heppner, and Margaret Price. Under Decca he has recorded Verismo Arias with Mirella Freni, L’amour and Arias for Rubini with Juan Diego Flórez. With Deutsche Grammophon he has issued Bel Canto (“Echo Klassik Deutscher Schallplattenpreis” 2009), Revive – both with Elina Garanča – and a DVD of Fedora with Mirella Freni and Placido Domingo from New York’s Met. Roberto Abbado was the first Italian conductor to lead the traditional New Year’s Concert at La Fenice in Venice on 1 January 2008 (Hardy Classic Video DVD). Moreover, three DVDs from the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro have also been issued: Ermione, under the label Dynamic; Zelmira with Juan Diego Flórez, Kate Aldrich and Gregory Kunde under Decca; Mosè in Egitto with Sonia Ganassi, Dmitry Korchak, Riccardo Zanellato and Alex Esposito under Opus Arte. With Dynamic he has recorded Giuseppe Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, Le trouvère directed by Robert Wilson and Macbeth in the original 1865 French version for Paris, the performance has won the Premio Speciale della Critica Musicale “Franco Abbiati” 2021.