While Ingo Metzmacher has conducted a range of orchestral works, he has probably drawn more notice for his work in the opera house, particularly in 20th century and contemporary repertory. Indeed, and he has presented important premieres, as well, including two at the Salzburg Festival: the 2009 production of Luigi Nono's opera Al gran sole carico d'amore and the 2010 presentation of Wolfgang Rihm's opera Dionysos. But he has also received high praise for his Mozart, Weber, Wagner and Verdi, as well as operas by Janácek, Pfitzner, Schreker, Shostakovich, and Messiaen. In the concert hall his repertory is just as varied and eclectic, taking in many standards but also music by Ives, Schoenberg, Webern, Cage, Henze, and the complete symphonies of Karl Amadeus Hartmann. The versatile Metzmacher also often appears as pianist to accompany such singers as Matthias Goerne, Christine Schäfer, and Christian Gerhaher. Metzmacher is also the author of two books on music and has made over 30 recordings, available from such labels as EMI, Arthaus Musik, Kultur Video, and many others.
Ingo Metzmacher was born in Hanover, Germany, on November 10, 1957. His father is the cellist Rudolf Metzmacher. Ingo studied piano as a child and later had studies in his hometown in music theory and conducting. After further studies in Salzburg and Cologne, Metzmacher launched his career in 1981 as a pianist with the Frankfurt-based Ensemble Modern. He also worked from about that time at the Frankfurt Opera with Michael Gielen.
In 1985 Metzmacher became the conductor of the Ensemble Modern. While he was gaining notice in his native Germany throughout the 1980s, it was not until 1988 that he made his first major international appearance: at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels he led a performance of Schreker's opera Der ferne Klang. Metzmacher was soon regularly leading major orchestras and often in important premieres: in 1994 he led the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in the newly revised version of Henze's Symphony No. 6. In that same year Sony released a CD of Metzmacher leading the Ensemble Modern in a performance of Henze's Requiem.
From 1997-2005 Metzmacher served as music director of both the Hamburg State Opera and Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra. He enjoyed much success in Hamburg in performances of Lohengrin, Die Freischütz, and Wozzeck, which he recorded to great acclaim on a 1999 EMI CD.
In 2005 Metzmacher's first book, Keine Angst vor neuen Töne (No Fear of New Music), was published by Rowohlt Verlag. His second book, Vorhang Auf! (Curtain Up!), was published in 2009, also by Rowohlt Verlag. From 2005-2008 Metzmacher served as chief conductor of the Netherlands Opera, where he again had great success, as evidenced by his acclaimed 2008 Kultur recording of Mozart's Don Giovanni.