Paolo Olmi studied under Massimo Pradella and Franco Ferrara in Rome and began his conducting career in 1979 having studied the piano from an early age. Since making his operatic debut in 1986 at the Teatro Comunale Bologna he has conducted in many of the major concert halls and opera throughout the world including Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia.
Successful productions have included Moses in Egypt at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, after which he was subsequently invited by Wolfgang Sawallisch to conduct this opera at the Bayerischer Staatsoper in Munich. He was later awarded, with stage director Pier Luigi Pizzi, the French music critics’ prize for the “Best Opera of the Year” for the outstanding production of William Tell at the Thèâtre des Champs Élysées, Paris. Other operatic highlights have included The Barber of Seville, The Thieving Magpie, Nabucco and Turandot at Barcelona Opera, a concert performance of Nabucco at the Royal Festival Hall, London, and Manon Lescaut at Teatro Colón di Buenos Aires.
In Italy, Olmi has also conducted a highly successful production of Rossini’s Le Siège de Corinthe at the Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, and he also conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus in a performance of Rossini’s Stabat Mater at the Arena di Verona. In London, he has appeared at the Royal Festival Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducting Verdi’s Requiem, and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he made his debut conducting Rossini’s Moses in Egypt. At L’Opera di Lyon he made his debut with Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, and at the Strasbourg Opera he has appeared on numerous occasions conducting Tosca, Don Carlos, and Ernani, and a special performance of Rossini’s Stabat Mater to celebrate the Italian presidency of the European Union. At the Royal Danish Opera Olmi has conducted Madame Butterfly, and he made his US debut at the Chicago Lyric Opera in 1995 conducting Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. [The interview below was recorded during that visit.]
Since making his debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1992, Olmi has returned on a number of occasions for productions of La Fanciulla del West, Aïda, La Forza del Destino, and Il Trovatore.
Olmi is also very active on the concert platform, and has conducted such orchestras as Tokyo Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia Rome, Orchestre National de France, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, and the Orchestra of RAI Rome where he led the complete symphonies of Mendelssohn, which were televised by National Television. Following highly successful concerts in Spain with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra in 1996, he appeared with the Orchestra in September 1997 at the Athens Festival, and has toured the orchestra again in Italy and Germany in 2000.
Following a highly successful debut at the Hamburg State Opera with Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Olmi was immediately reinvited for a new production of La Forza del Destino at the beginning of the 98/99 season. Engagements during the last few seasons have included his debut in Athens with La Bohème, at Stuttgart Opera conducting The Barber of Seville and Un ballo un Maschera with the New National Theatre, Tokyo where he returned to conduct a new production of Nabucco in 2001, and Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’amore in 2002 with a very successful DVD. In January 2000 he conducted a very successful performance of Verdi’s Aïda in concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Chorus which was subsequently taken on tour in Italy, and in December 2000 he conducted the LPO on tour in Korea.
In 1988 Olmi was the first Italian conductor in China (Shanghai and Beijing) where he came back in 1998 for the opening of Shanghai Grand Theater in collaboration with Teatro Comunale di Firenze. He was invited to conduct a special Traviata in Shanghai to celebrate de 50th Anniversary of Chinese Revolution in 2009. He conducted also Traviata in Macau, Otello in Beijing, and the first tour in China of Teatro La Fenice di Venezia in 2003. He came back to China in 2005 for Shanghai Festival (Rossini’s Barber of Seville), 2006 for a Tour with Shanghai Conservatory of Music, 2007 for Hong Kong “French May Festival” (with Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet).
After very successful productions of La Gioconda at Deutsche Oper Berlin,Verdi’s Jerusalem and Falstaff , Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur and Rossini’s Guillaume Tell at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam , the concert offered from Dutch Television to the Queen of Holland, recorded by EMI Classic, Rossini’s Stabat Mater with London Philharmonic Orchestra and touring in Italy, Elisir d’Amore, Ballo In Maschera, Italiana in Algeri and Barbiere di Siviglia at Bordeaux Opera, Rossini’s Stabat Mater with London Philharmonic Orchestra, Aïda and Lucia di Lammermoor at Savonlinna Opera Festival. During 2012, he has recorded l’Italiana in Algeri for French Television (recorded from Nancy) and for Italian Television (recorded from Teatro Comunale di Bologna) and Barbiere di Siviglia recorded last October in Bordeaux.
Later engagements include the Easter Concert from Jerusalem, televised and broadcast in many countries, and a very successful Don Pasquale al Toulouse Opera.
After Traviata at Savonlinna Festival, he conducted Fledermaus in Shanghai, and many concerts in Italy, China, Israel, and France.
Paolo Olmi has great experience in making orchestral and opera seasons,
being appointed Music Director of Roma Radio Orchestra in 1991, Opera
Theater in Ravenna and Opera National de Nancy et de Lorraine in 2006
,where he stayed for 5 years. For 10 years he was also visiting Professor
at Guildhall School for Music and Drama of London, teaching symphonic
and operatic repertoire.
-- Biography mostly from Proscenium Artist’s
|On April 20, 2001,
Sinopoli died of a heart attack at the age of 54 while conducting Verdi’s
Aïda at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. The funeral
in Rome on April 23 was attended by the Italian President and Prime Minister,
as well as a large contingent from La Scala.
Every October since 2005, Taormina Arte has dedicated a festival to Giuseppe Sinopoli, the artistic director of the Music section of the Taormina Festival from 1989 to 1997. The Giuseppe Sinopoli Festival celebrates the man not only as a musician and as a conductor, but also as a composer, a doctor, an archaeologist and intellectual, with a variety of events from music and literature, theater and art to conferences, exhibitions, publications and concerts. Each Festival also welcomes important orchestras to Italy.
© 1995 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in Chicago on October 30, 1995. Portions were broadcast on WNIB two months later, and again in 2000. This transcription was made in 2019, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.