Music Director, The Royal Opera
Antonio (Tony) Pappano was born in London of Italian parents on 30 December 1959. From an early age he played the piano for his father’s pupils during their singing lessons, showing great promise as a talented accompanist.
When he was a teenager, the family moved to the United States and settled in Bridgetown, Connecticut. It was there that Tony met and studied piano with Norma Verrilli – one of the great influences in his life – before being offered a job as repetiteur at New York City Opera where he discovered his love of opera and theatre.
After New York, Tony was invited to work at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona then Frankfurt Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago moving on to the Bayreuth Festival where he became assistant to Daniel Barenboim.
Tony conducted his first opera (La bohème) at the Den Norske Opera in Oslo in 1987 and realised his ability as a conductor. He made his conducting debuts at Covent Garden in 1990 (La bohème, conducting seven different tenors in fourteen performances – not an auspicious introduction for the future Music Director of The Royal Opera!), English National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Théâtre du Châtelet, Berlin Staatsoper and was appointed Musical Director in Oslo in 1990.
At the age of 32 Tony became Music Director of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Belgium where he conducted numerous operas, including Salome, Un ballo in maschera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Carmen, Otello, La traviata, Tristan und Isolde, Le nozze di Figaro, Der Rosenkavalier, Don Carlos and Aida.
In 1999 Tony Pappano was appointed Music Director of The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, a position he took up in September 2002. Since his appointment, he has conducted an extensive number of productions: Aida, Ariadne auf Naxos, Un ballo in maschera, Carmen, Don Carlo, Don Giovanni, Falstaff, Faust, La fanciulla del West, Fidelio, La forza del destino, Gianni Schicchi, La Gioconda, Götterdämmerung, L’Heure espagnole, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Madama Butterfly, Le nozze di Figaro, Otello, Pagliacci, Peter Grimes, the Ring cycle Siegfried, Tosca, Werther, Wozzeck. Tony has conducted world premieres at The Royal Opera, such as The Minotaur by Harrison Birtwistle in April 2008.
He also conducted The Royal Ballet, first conducting Sinfonietta in November 2003.
In April 2003 Tony accepted the position of Music Director of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, which he took up in October 2005. In addition, Tony has conducted widely in the United States and Europe including the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Concertgebouw, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris and the Munich Philharmonic.
He has recorded extensively: conducting Don Carlos, La bohème, La rondine (awarded Best Recording of the Year by Gramophone Magazine), Il trittico, Werther, Manon, Tristan und Isolde, Tosca and Il trovatore for EMI Classics plus Wintermärchenfor DG and The Turn of the Screw for Accord. Tony has recorded an array of soloists including Plácido Domingo, Natalie Dessay, Han-Na Chang, Nina Stemme, Maxim Vengerov and Leif Ove Andsnes; and as pianist with Rockwell Blake and Barbara Bonney (DECCA). He also conducted the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, as well as a filmed version of Tosca.
Tony’s awards for musical achievement include ‘Artist of the Year’ in the 2000 Gramophone Awards, the 2003 Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Opera’ and the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award 2004 in the conductor category.
In January 2012 Tony received a knighthood for his services to music.