Carlo Rizzi

Artistic Director – Opera Rara
Conductor Laureate – Welsh National Opera

Managed in association with Nicholas Mathias Ltd.


Carlo Rizzi holds a long-standing reputation as one of the world’s foremost operatic conductors, in demand as a guest artist at the world’s most prestigious venues and festivals. Equally at home in the opera house and the concert hall, his vast repertoire spans everything from the foundation works of the operatic and symphonic canon to rarities by Bellini, Cimarosa and Donizetti to Giordano, Pizzetti and Montemezzi. Combining a deep expertise in the vocal art with theatrical flair and the practical collaborative skills honed over decades of experience in the world’s finest theatres, he is acclaimed by singers and audiences alike as a master of the operatic craft.

Born in Milan, Rizzi studied at the city’s conservatoire, and following his graduation was employed as a repetiteur at the legendary Teatro alla Scala. He launched his conducting career in 1982 with a production of Donizetti’s L’ajo nell’imbarazzo, and has now performed over a hundred operas, with a broad repertoire that is rich in Italian works in addition to the major titles of Mozart, Wagner, Strauss, Britten, Mussorgsky, Martinů and Janáček.

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“Carlo Rizzi has often been dismissed as a “craftsman.” But that is precisely what is good about Carlo Rizzi! Nothing is invented, the tempi are not brutally accelerated or slowed down, nothing is pulled out of the sleeve that is not in the score. And how well he understands Verdi. He takes good care of the singers so that they can be heard at all times. And what a sense of Verdian rhythm! The work of a good craftsman for which we music lovers are grateful from the bottom of our hearts. And the singers, who feel completely comfortable with him. Equally, the players of the Paris Opera Orchestra were able to give all their velvet (even the brass, yes), showing that beautiful sound that characterizes it.”

Francisco Leonarte

“The orchestra performed to its full extent. At its head was Carlo Rizzi, familiar from Pesaro, steeped in Italianità but also with the Grand Opéra style. With gestures as precise as they are elegant, tinged with lightness and sprezzatura, he achieved an ideal balance, and flawless dramatic tension.”

Bénédicte Palaux-Simonnet

Crescendo Magazine

“Many conductors taking on late Verdi tend to lean heavily on brass sounds, often resulting in a banda sound for the entire orchestra. Not Rizzi. He knows how to balance the brightness of the brass and winds with an earthier texture of the strings to really create a more grounded sound. The results can be absolutely unreal, such as THE Chord during the Filippo and Rodrigo duet which was cataclysmic and unreal in its explosiveness and dramatic weight. He also got some of the more gentle textures beautifully, particularly at the start of Act two and during the final duet. The very final notes of the opera, with the violins in a frenzy over a menacing fanfare were all you could ask from any conductor.”

Francisco Salazar

Opera Wire

More Reviews

“Carlo Rizzi conducted, and his ability to generate tension within a single phrase even as he drives the music forward in taut, gleaming paragraphs, made the whole thing gripping.”

Richard Bratby, The Spectator

“Conductor Carlo Rizzi , who hails from Milan and works in the world’s largest opera houses, plays a decisive role in this, skillfully directing the singers. From the dramatic beginning of the overture with the Scarpia motif to the dying away of the last notes in Act 3, the orchestra is in top form, displaying dynamism and variety, forming a powerful soundscape for the singing. Maestro Rizzi conducts passionately with flowing, expressive movements, evoking the feeling of loving and suffering with the protagonists in the orchestra pit. Bravo!”

Dr. Petra Spelzhaus, Klassik Begeistert

“Former music director Carlo Rizzi, given a hero’s return, conducted a searing account of Verdi’s score right from the ebullient rendition of the barnstorming overture. He drew magnificent playing from the WNO Orchestra, [and] also secured big, whole-hearted singing from his cast.”

Mark Pullinger, Bachtrack

“Rizzi has Verdi in his blood, and from his cracking account of the celebrated overture to its final seraphic cadences, he conducts a fast-paced and vividly coloured account of the score, played with exceptional clarity by WNO’s wonderful orchestra.”

“All are sustained immaculately by Rizzi’s conducting, which exudes respect for the score in every bar.”
Andrew Clements, The Guardian

“Carlo Rizzi knows exactly what Puccini needs and he draws wonderful colours from Welsh National Opera’s orchestra. The pacing is precise, the playing supple and gripping. I could listen many times over to the hot-blooded brass, muscular strings and the despairing regret of the clarinet…”
Rebecca Franks, The Times