The standing of Sir Antonio Pappano, a conductor adorned by multiple honours and awards, including the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, the Order of the British Empire and the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society, is perhaps best illustrated by his current situation. This season, after more than two decades, he will leave the post of music director of the world-renowned Royal Opera House in London (to be succeeded by the Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša) and assume the role of chief conductor of the prestigious London Symphony Orchestra. Can one rise any higher?
One of the presently most sought-after opera and concert conductors, Sir Antonio Pappano was born in 1959 in Epping, Essex, into a family who had moved to England from Italy. When he was 13 years of age, they relocated to Connecticut. The son of a distinguished voice teacher, he did not attend any music school, taking private lessons instead. After completing his training in piano (with Norma Verrilli), composition (with Arnold Franchetti) and conducting (with Gustav Meier), Sir Antonio worked as a pianist and rehearsal accompanist at opera houses in Europe and the USA. While at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, he attracted the attention of maestro Daniel Barenboim, who would name the gifted young artist his assistant. Following his first conducting experience, in Oslo, at the age of 31 Sir Antonio was appointed music director of Den Norske Opera. From 1992 to 2002, he served as music director of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, between 1997 and 1999 he was principal guest conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2005 to the end of the previous season, he was music director of the Orchestra dellʼAccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome.
In 2019, he and the Orchestra dellʼAccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia appeared to great acclaim at the Prague Spring festival. Today, Sir Antonio Pappano will conduct the Czech Philharmonic for the very first time. The soloist of the concert, the violinist Janine Jansen, has collaborated with him over the long term, including on a recording of Brahms’s and Bartók’s violin concertos, which has met with an enthusiastic response due to its singular conception and immaculate chime between the musicians.
Sir Antonio Pappano’s wide-ranging discography primarily includes opera albums, yet he has also made numerous recordings of symphonic music, mostly by Romantic composers, as well as other works, with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Berliner Philharmoniker and other feted orchestras. Since 1995, Sir Antonio has extensively recorded for Warner Classics.
Besides the Royal Opera House in London, where he has conducted productions of operas ranging from Baroque to contemporary, Sir Antonio Pappano has recently appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Staatsoper Berlin and Milan’s La Scala, as well as at the Bayreuther Festspiele. In the current season, he is scheduled to perform with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia at next year’s Osterfestspiele Salzburg. This December, Sir Antonio will conduct the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, and in April 2024 he will direct a concert of the Sächsische Staatskapelle in Dresden.