Acclaimed as “a conductor you want to hear again and again”, Roberto Abbado’s crisp, dramatic music-making, instinctive lyricism and evocative command of varied composers and styles have made him an esteemed conductor among orchestras and opera companies today. He is both a sophisticated and energetic conductor, which, combined with superb communicative skills have made him a favourite among musicians and public alike.
In 2009 Mr. Abbado was honoured with the “Franco Abbiati” award of the National Association of Italian Music Critics – Italy’s most prestigious classical music award – as Conductor of the Year, “for the maturity of interpretation and for his breadth and curiosity of repertoire, in which he has delivered remarkable results and an intensity which was manifested in La Clemenza di Tito by Mozart (Teatro Regio Torino) executed using classical period performance practices; in the contemporary opera Phaedra by Hans Werner Henze (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino); in Rossini’s Ermione (Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro); and for the rare Der Vampyr of Heinrich Marschner (Teatro Comunale Bologna)”.
A popular figure in the United States, Mr. Abbado’s most extensive relationship is currently with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, where he is an Artistic Partner, a position that has now been extended into an unprecedented third three-year term. He has performed regularly with the Atlanta and St. Louis symphony orchestras and has appeared often with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Houston Symphony and San Francisco Symphony, as well as with New York City’s Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
Roberto Abbado began season 2012-13 with Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Bari’s historic Teatro Petruzzelli staged by Mario Martone, followed by Ponchielli’s La Gioconda at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera in a new production by Pierluigi Pizzi. He has opened the Verdi’s year with a new production of Macbeth by Bob Wilson at Teatro Comunale in Bologna and then he took on tour to Hong Kong the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples performing La Traviata staged by Ferzan Özpetek and an all Verdi program. Mr. Abbado has also conducted a new production of Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte staged by Davide Livermore at Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari.
On the concert platform he conducted, among others, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai (all Verdi program), Orchestra del Teatro Comunale in Bologna (Britten, Lutoslawski and Dvořák), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Schubert, Mendelsshon, Rossini), Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (Mozart, Strauss), San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (Schumann, Fedele, Schubert).
Roberto Abbado’s 2011-12 season included a triumphal performance of Rossini’s La Donna del Lago at la Scala, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust staged by Terry Gilliam at Teatro Massimo in Palermo and Donizetti’s Anna Bolena staged by Graham Vick at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. In 2012 Mr. Abbado was awarded again by the National Association of Italian Music Critics with the Franco Abbiati Prize for Mosè in Egitto at the Rossini Opera Festival as “Best performance and production”.
Born into a dynastic musical family, his grandfather was a famous pedagogue of violin, his father was director of the Milan Conservatory, and uncle is Claudio Abbado, the esteemed maestro. Roberto Abbado studied with renowned conducting teacher Franco Ferrara at Venice’s La Fenice and Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, where he was the only student in the the Accademia’s history to be invited to conduct the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia. As Chief Conductor of the Munich Radio Orchestra (1991-98) he made seven recordings with the orchestra, and has worked extensively elsewhere in Europe including the Royal Concertgebouww, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Dresden Staatskapelle, Gewandhaus Orchester (Leipzieg), NDR Symphony Orchestra (Hamburg), Vienna Symphony, Swedish Radio Symphony, and Israel Philarmonic Orchestras. In his native Italy, he has particularly strong relationships with the great orchestras, and regularly conducts the Filarmonica della Scala (Milan), Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome), Orchestra del Maggio Musicale (Florence) and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI (Torino).
Mr. Abbado made his North American concert debut it 1991 with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at the Lincoln Center in New York. Since then he has returned regularly conducting many top orchestras. As a gifted accompanist conductor he collaborates with many of today’s most respected soloists including violinists Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Kennedy, Midori, Vadim Repin, Gil Shaham, and pianists Alfred Brendel, Yefim Bronfman, Lang Lang, Radu Lupu, Andras Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida, Andre Watts, duo pianists Katia & Marielle Labèque, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, to name but a few.
Well known for his work in opera, Mr. Abbado has led many new productions and world premieres, including Fedora at the Metropolitan Opera (New York); I Vespri Siciliani at Vienna Staatsoper; La Gioconda and Lucia di Lammermoor at Teatro alla Scala (Milan); L’Amour des trois oranges, Aida and La Traviata for the Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich); Simon Boccanegra and La Clemenza di Tito with the Teatro Regio di Torino; Le Comte Ory, Attila, I Lombardi and Henze’s Phaedra at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; La Donna del Lago at the Paris Opéra; Don Giovanni at the Deutsche Oper (Berlin).
Mr. Abbado is also well known as a passionate interpreter of modern and contemporary music. As a natural advocate for Italian composers, he frequently programs works by Luciano Berio, Bruno Maderna, and Goffredo Petrassi, and contemporary Italians such as Sylvano Bussotti, Niccolò Castiglioni, Azio Corghi, Ivan Fedele, Luca Francesconi, Giorgio Battistelli, Michele Dall’Ongaro, Giacomo Manzoni, Salvatore Sciarrino, and notably Fabio Vacchi, for whom Mr. Abbado conducted the world premiere of his new Teneke at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala in 2007.
Not limited to Italian contemporary music, he also explores the music of French contemporary composers Pascal Dusapin, Henri Dutilleux and Olivier Messiaen, Russian Alfred Schnittke, German Hans Werner Henze and Helmut Lachenmann and, in part due to his extensive travels among North American orchestras, an eclectic assortment of this continent’s living composers from Ned Rorem to Christopher Rouse, Steven Stucky, Charles Wuorinen.
A prolific recording conductor, Mr. Abbado has made several recording for BMG (RCA Red Seal) including award winning performances of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (BBC Magazine “Pick of the Year 1999”) and Rossini’s Tancredi (Echo Klassic Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1997). He recorded a recital disc of 19th century arias for Decca with tenor Juan Diego Flórez and the Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, titled The Rubini Album, and most recently a recital album titled Bel Canto with mezzo soprano Elīna Garanča, on Deutsche Grammophon (Echo Klassic Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 2009).
Other BMG releases include Don Pasquale with Renato Bruson, Eva Mei, Frank Lopardo and Thomas Allen; Turandot with Eva Martona, Ben Heppner and Margaret Price; and a disc of ballet music from Verdi operas. He has also recorded the two Liszt piano concerti with soloist Gerhard Oppitz; a collection of great tenor arias with Ben Heppner and a CD of opera scenes with Carol Vaness, both with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester. For Decca, he has recorded Verismo Arias with Mirella Freni and for the Stradivarius Label two world premieres recordings by contemporary Italian composer Luca Francesconi – Cobalt, Scarlet and Rest. On DVD, Deutsche Grammophon has released Fedora with Mirella Freni and Placido Domingo from the Metropolitan Opera New York; Dynamic has released Rossini Ermione from the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro; and Hardy Classic Video the New Year Concert 2008 from the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. The last releases in 2012 have been a DVD of Rossini’s Zelmira for Decca with Juan Diego Flórez, Kate Aldrich and Gregory Kunde, and a DVD of Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto with Sonia Ganassi, Dmitry Korchak, Riccardo Zanellato and Alex Esposito, staged by Graham Vick, on Opus Arte.
Mr. Abbado has led many orchestras in a number of international tours; notably the Israel Philharmonic (Spain 2005), the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Europe 2006), the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (Europe 2007), Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Enescu Festival, Bucharest 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).