When did you start playing an instrument?
When I was three and a half years old.
Why did you start playing?
My parents sent me to piano lessons, for me it was more like a game.
Which musicians inspired you most when you were young?
My teacher, Lili Chiesa, who was violinist in the orchestra in Genoa and pianist.
Which musicians (instrumentalists or singers) do you most admire?
Mostly musicians of the past: Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Arrau, Fritz Wunderlich.
What's your favourite piece to conduct?
The piece I am rehearsing in that very moment.
What piece have you never conducted but would like to?
Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde.
What's your favourite piece to listen to?
Lute music by John Dowland.
Who is your favourite composer?
The composer I am working on in this moment.
Who is your favourite writer?
Who is your favourite theatre or film director?
Who is your favourite actor?
Vittorio De Sica
Who is your favourite dancer?
What is your favourite book?
Dante's La Divina Commedia.
What is your favourite film?
Which is your favourite city?
What do you like most about yourself?
What do you dislike about yourself?
What was your proudest moment?
When I first conducted Richard Wagner's Götterdammerung.
When and where were you happiest?
When my wife arrived at the airport to live with me.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife Barbara.
What is your greatest fear?
Not to be able to sustain my family.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Having opened the mind of my children.
What is your most treasured possession?
What is your greatest extravagance?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasion do you lie?
If you hadn't been a conductor what would you have liked to be?
What is your most marked characteristic?
Ask people who know me, I can't tell.
What quality do you most value in a friend?
Ability to listen.
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Which living person do you most admire?
What do you most dislike?
What talent would you most like to have?
What's your idea of perfect happiness?
How would you like to die?
In peace with the world, in the arms of my wife.
What is your motto?
See the good in everything.
Fabio Luisi – a biography
Grammy Award-winner Fabio Luisi currently serves as Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and General Music Director of the Zurich Opera. He recently concluded his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Vienna Symphony, where he was honoured with the orchestra's Golden Bruckner Medal and Golden Bruckner Ring.
The 2013-14 season finds the preeminent Italian conductor leading Metropolitan Opera productions of Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Rossini's comedy La Cenerentola, which stars Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, and Luca Pisaroni, and will be transmitted live to movie theatres around the world in the Met's celebrated Live in HD series. In his second season at the helm of the Zurich Opera, Luisi premieres important new treatments of Beethoven's Fidelio and Verdi's Aida, and conducts revivals of Bellini's La straniera, Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann, and Verdi's Don Carlo with René Pape, which is also the vehicle for the conductor's return to the Teatro alla Scala. As distinguished in the concert hall as the opera house, Maestro Luisi leads five orchestral programs with the Philharmonia Zurich, makes his long-awaited London Symphony Orchestra debut, and returns to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Cleveland Orchestra, with which he launches the new season.
Last season saw Maestro Luisi launch his tenure at the Zurich Opera in a new, season-opening production of Jenufa, before returning to the Met for David Alden's new staging of Un ballo in maschera and revivals of Les Troyens and Aida, all of which were selected for Live in HD transmission. He undertook three complete cycles of Robert Lepage's visionary Met “Ring,” headlined by Bryn Terfel, Stephanie Blythe, Deborah Voigt, and Jay Hunter Morris, as well as Don Carlo at La Scala, and Zurich Opera stagings of Tosca, La bohème, Rigoletto, La straniera, and Der Rosenkavalier. With the newly renamed Philharmonia Zurich, Luisi embarked upon a special initiative, programming and conducting an increasing number of orchestral concerts, with an initial focus on the music of Schumann. He directed the Met Opera Orchestra and pianist Yefim Bronfman at Carnegie Hall, and led multiple programs in the final leg of his journey with the Vienna Symphony.
In September 2011, Luisi began his inaugural season as Principal Conductor of the Met, over the course of which he led numerous productions (including six in a single month, an almost unprecedented feat). These included Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung (the four operas of Lepage's “Ring” cycle), and a number of other important new productions: Don Giovanni with Mariusz Kwiecień in the title role, La traviata with Natalie Dessay, and Manon starring Anna Netrebko. This same new Laurent Pelly treatment of Massenet's masterpiece was also the vehicle for Luisi's long-awaited debut at La Scala. Additional highlights of 2011-12 included debuts with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Filarmonica della Scala, and guest engagements with Florence's Orchestra del Maggio Musicale, the Oslo Philharmonic, and the Genoa Opera Orchestra. Besides a season of concerts in Vienna, Luisi toured with the Vienna Symphony in North America and Europe. In summer 2012 he returned to Sapporo, Japan for his final season as Artistic Director of the Pacific Music Festival.
Luisi's previous appointments include serving as General Music Director of Dresden's Staatskapelle and Sächsischen Staatsoper (2007–10), Artistic Director of Leipzig Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (1999–2007), Music Director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (1997–2002), Chief Conductor of the Tonkünstler-Orchester in Vienna (1995–2000), and Artistic Director of the Graz Symphony (1990–96). He maintains an active schedule of guest engagements with international orchestras and opera companies, and has appeared with the Bayerischer Rundfunk, Vienna Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, London's Philharmonia, Tokyo's NHK Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Rome's Santa Cecilia Orchestra, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, among others. He is also a frequent guest at the Vienna Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper, and Staatsoper Berlin. The conductor made his debut at the Salzburg Festival with Richard Strauss's Die Liebe der Danae in 2002 and returned the following season for Strauss's Die ägyptische Helena.
Luisi received his first Grammy Award in March 2013 for his leadership of the last two opera's of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, when Deutsche Grammophon's DVD release of the full cycle, recorded live at the Met, was named Best Opera Recording of 2012. His extensive discography also includes rare Verdi operas (Jérusalem, Alzira, and Aroldo), Salieri's La locandiera, Bellini's I puritani, a critically lauded recording of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi with Anna Netrebko and Elīna Garanča for Deutsche Grammophon, and the symphonic repertoire of Honegger, Respighi, and Liszt. He recorded all the symphonies and the oratorio Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln by neglected Austrian composer Franz Schmidt; several works by Richard Strauss for Sony Classical; and an award-winning account of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony with the Staatskapelle Dresden.
Born in Genoa in 1959, Luisi began piano studies at the age of four and received his diploma from the Conservatorio Niccolò Paganini in 1978. He later attended conducting studies with Milan Horvat at the Conservatory in Graz.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.