Carlo Rizzi has established a reputation largely as a conductor of opera, particularly of the classic Italian operas. Yet he has championed lesser known fare — Rossini's Ciro in Babilonia and Piccinni's La Pescatrice, to name but two operas — and has led performances far afield from Italian standards, like Janácek's Katá Kabanová (in English!). He has also conducted critically acclaimed productions of Gounod's Faust and has led many purely instrumental concerts featuring works by Respighi, Debussy, Liszt, Schubert, and many others. His recordings include highly praised sets of the three operas mentioned above as well as Giordano's Andrea Chénier, Rossini's La Cenerentola, Donizetti's Il furioso all'isola di San Domingo, and numerous discs of arias with major singers, including Anna Netrebko, Edita Gruberová, Jane Eaglen, Olga Borodina, Marcelo Álvarez, and Juan Diego Flórez. Rizzi has appeared at the major operatic venues, including Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, the Zurich Opera, and Opéra National de Paris. Rizzi has made more than 50 recordings spread across both major and minor labels, including DG, Decca, Philips, Sony Classical, Teldec, Erato, TDK, Apex, and Bongiovanni.
Carlo Rizzi was born in Milan, Italy, on July 19, 1960. His first advanced studies were at the Milan Conservatory. He later studied with Russian-émigré conductor Vladimir Delman in Bologna and at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, under Franco Ferrara. Rizzi mainly worked in his homeland in the 1980s, with his debut coming in 1982 in a Milan Angelicum production of Donizetti's L'ajo nell'Imbarrazzo. By the late '80s Rizzi was successfully branching out: his U.K. debut at the 1988 Buxton Festival led to invitations to Covent Garden and Opera North in 1990, and in the meantime he debuted at Opera Australia in Sydney (1989).
Rizzi was appointed music director of the Welsh National Opera in 1992. There he would lead numerous acclaimed operatic productions, as well as regularly give orchestral concerts. Rizzi debuted at the Met in 1994 with an acclaimed performance of Rossini's The Barber of Seville. That year, as well, his first major recording was issued on Teldec: Gounod's Faust, with a cast featuring Jerry Hadley, Brigitte Fassbaender, and Samuel Ramey, supported by Welsh National Opera forces. Rizzi departed the Welsh National Opera in 2001, but took up the reins there again from 2004-2007. Among Rizzi's recordings is his 2007 release of Janácek's Katya Kabanova on the Chandos label.