The Italian conductor, Fabio Luisi, suffered as a child from asthma and began piano studies at the age of 4. He received his diploma in piano from the Conservatorio Nicolò Paganini in 1978 and was a student of Memi Schiavina. After receiving his degree in piano studies, he continued piano instruction with Aldo Ciccolini and Antonio Bacchelli.
Fabio Luisi developed an interest in conducting while working as a piano accompanist, and he studied conducting at the conservatory in Graz with Milan Horvat. He worked at the Graz Opera as an accompanist and conductor. His first conducting appearance was in Italy in 1984. From 1990 to 1995 (or 1996), he was Principal Conductor (Artistic Director) of the Graz Symphony Orchestra. From 1995 to 2000, he served as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Tonkünstlerorchester in Vienna. From 1996 to 1999, he was one of three main conductors (Hauptdirigenten) of the MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester), along with Marcello Viotti and Manfred Honeck. From 1999 to 2007, he was sole Principal Conductor (Artistic Director) of the MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig. He was the Principal Conductor (Music Director) of L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande from 1997 to 2002.
In January 2004, Fabio Luisi was named Chief Conductor of both the Dresden Staatskapelle and of the Semperoper, Dresden. He assumed both posts (General Music Director) in September 2007. With the Dresden Staatskapelle, Luisi has conducted commercial recordings of music by Richard Strauss and Anton Bruckner. Luisi was originally scheduled to step down as Chief Conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle in 2012, at the expiration of his contract. However, Luisi resigned from both Dresden posts in February 2010, with immediate effect, after reports that the Dresden Staatskapelle's management had secured a contract with the ZDF network for a scheduled televised concert on New Year's Eve, 2010 with Christian Thielemann as conductor, without consulting him at all in his capacity as the orchestra's GMD.
Since 2005, Fabio Luisi has served as Principal Conductor of the Wiener Symphoniker. He is contracted to the Wiener Symphoniker through 2013, and is scheduled to step down from the Wiener Symphoniker chief conductorship after the 2012-2013 season. In June 2009, Luisi was named the next Generalmusikdirektor of the Zürich Opera, effective from September 2012 (2012-2013 season), with an initial contract of 5 years.
Fabio Luisi maintains an active schedule of guest engagements with international orchestras and opera companies, and has appeared with the Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphonieorchester, Wiener Philharmoniker, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony, Münchner Philharmoniker, Rome’s Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Mahler Chamber Orchestra, among others. He is also a frequent guest at the Wiener 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.
In the USA, Fabio Luisi made his Metropolitan Opera conducting debut in March 2005, with Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlos. In April 2010, Luisi was named the Met's Principal Guest Conductor, for an initial contract of 3 years, effective with the 2010-2011 season. Luisi is the second conductor to be named to this post at the Metropolitan Opera, after Valery Gergiev. He was elevated to the post of Principal Conductor on September 6, 2011, when Music Director James Levine withdrew from his scheduled fall 2011 performances. Over the course of his post at the Met, he has 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 Robert Lepage’s visionary new Der Ring des Nibelungen, headlined by Bryn Terfel, Stephanie Blythe, Deborah Voigt, and Jay Hunter Morris), and a number of other important new productions: Don Giovanni with Mariusz Kwiecien 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 the past season included debuts with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, and guest engagements with Florence’s Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Genoa Opera Orchestra. Besides a season of concerts in Vienna, Luisi toured with the Wiener Symphoniker 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.
The 2012-13 season sees Fabio Luisi launch his tenure in the new appointment, leading the Zurich Opera’s new, season-opening production of Janácek’s Jenufa, before returning to the Metropolitan Opera to conduct David Alden’s new staging of Un ballo in maschera with Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Dolora Zajick, and Sondra Radvanovsky. Luisi also directs Met revivals of Berlioz’s Les Troyens, starring Deborah Voigt and Susan Graham, and Aida, both of which - like Un ballo - are scheduled for Live in HD transmission.
In his new position at the Zurich Opera, Fabio Luisi is embarking upon a special initiative programming and conducting an increasing number of orchestral concert performances with the newly renamed Philharmonia Zürich, which until this season was known as the Orchester der Oper Zürich. Music by Robert Schumann is the centerpiece of this season’s programming, with Luisi conducting three concerts at the Tonhalle Zürich. Repertoire for these concerts includes Robert Schumann’s First and Fourth Symphonies, the composer’s Piano Concerto in A minor, and the epic oratorio Das Paradies und die Peri, which closes out the season’s concert offerings.
Among other upcoming highlights, Fabio Luisi undertakes a further three complete cycles of the Met’s Der Ring des Nibelungen; a wide-ranging program with the Met Opera Orchestra and pianist Yefim Bronfman at Carnegie Hall; Zurich Opera productions of Tosca, La bohème, Rigoletto, La straniera, and Der Rosenkavalier; Don Carlo at La Scala; and multiple programs - some featuring symphonies by Schubert, Johannes Brahms, and Bruckner - at the Wiener Symphoniker.
Fabio Luisi’s extensive discography includes rare Verdi operas (Jérusalem, Alzira, and Aroldo), Salieri’s La locandiera, Bellini’s I puritani, the critically lauded recording of Bellini’s I Capuletti e i Montecchi with Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca for Deutsche Grammophon, Gioacchino Rossini's William Tell, and the symphonic repertoire of Arthur Honegger, Ottorino Respighi, and Franz Liszt. He recorded all the symphonies and the oratorio Das Buch mit den sieben Siegeln by the 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 Dresden Staatskapelle.
Favio Luisi and his wife Barbara, a photographer and former orchestra violinist, have three sons. The family is in the process of relocating from Vienna to New York City.