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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,

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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’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 he 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”.

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.

In season 2013-14, he conducted Maometto II at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, Parsifal at Teatro Comunale in Bologna and a concert version of La Favorite at the prestigious Salzburger Festspiele.

On the concert platform he conducted, among others, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Naples Philharmonic.

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).

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Reviews

"Con questo Macbeth Roberto Abbado passa dallo stato di ottimo direttore a quello di grande direttore."

Paolo Isotta, Corriere della Sera

"Abbado’s reading was masterful, resulting in a performance rich in mystery, power and detail. Yet it was also strikingly direct and well-phrased, allowing the music – and the virtuosity of the CSO’s musicians – to shine. "

Janell Gelfand, Cincinnati.com

"Sul podio dell'eccellente Orchestra scaligera, Roberto Abbado ha dato vita ad una lettura del capolavoro rossiniano di straordinaria forza musicale, in cui la luminosa poesia delle pastellate sfumature si univa al vibrante vigore di un'energia trascinanate; una sorta di vento romantico e rude al medesimo tempo che agitava la straordinaria tavolozza pittorica creata da Abbado, tra il prezioso gioco dei rubati e l'accompagnamento di duetti, terzetti, arie, rondò che si faceva "canto" insieme a quello dell'artista in scena, in un unico intento, con un'unica tensione interpretativa, e tutto a maggior gloria di Rossini. Grande bacchetta alla guida di una vera festa della musica e del canto. "

Nicola Salmoiraghi, L'Opera

"[...]Il merito del successo[...]va dunque a Roberto Abbado, che dal podio ha condotto i complessi dell'Opera di Roma[...]a una prestazione maiuscola in un lavoro della non breve durata di oltre tre ore[...], scoprendo in questa partitura il gusto europeo che aveva mosso Ponchielli, la preoccupazione di portare dentro un'opera lirica anche il linguaggio sinfonico, la capacità di creare grandi arcate musicali dove una vicenda di passioni oscure alla Victor Hugo si srotolasse tenebrosa, e infine un'attenzione alla ricchezza e alla funzionalità dell'orchestrazione. L'esito è una esecuzione molto più divertente, musicalmente varia e sfaccettata di quanto la tradizione ci offra, confermando Roberto Abbado come uno dei nostri direttori più intelligenti e raffinati[...]"

Luca Del Fra, L'Unità