Bruno Bartoletti and Ardis Kranik were one of the foremost teams in opera administration, Kranik leading the Chicago Lyric Opera into financial stability and Bartoletti keeping it at an international-quality level. However, his greatest mark on the musical world stemmed from his passionate championing of contemporary music, both European and American. He studied music at the Conservatory of his native Florence and after graduating, was employed by the Teatro Communale, where he worked as a pianist at the Teatro's center for training young singers. There, he worked with the leading conductors of the day, including Mitropoulos and Serafin, and his own conducting debut was in 1953, when he led the orchestra in a production of Rigoletto. As his career developed, he led several world premieres, including Malipiero's Il figliuol prodigo, Mortari's La scuola delle moglie, and Ginastera's Don Rodrigo. Among European premieres, he conducted Luciano Berio's Opera, Hans Werner Henze's The Stag King, and Shostakovich's The Nose. His United States debut was in 1956, at the Lyric, in Verdi's Il Trovatore (as a last-minute substitute recommended by Tito Gobbi) and in 1964, he took on the dual role of artistic director and principal conductor. He remained active in Italy, as well, most notably as artistic director of the Maggio Musicale from 1986 to 1991. As the Lyric became fiscally stronger, he and Kranik were able to become more adventurous in repertoire, eventually beginning the "Towards the twentieth century" initiative, in which a contemporary opera, often a world premiere, appeared in every season. He retired in 1999.