Oleg Caetani is an opera and concert conductor. He finds these two aspects of his work equally important.
Caetani considers Nadia Boulanger to be the driving inspiration of his career. She discovered his talent, initiated him to music and gave him the philosophical approach to life, linked to Montaigne, that he still has today.
At the Rome Conservatory of Santa Cecilia he attended Franco Ferrara’s conducting class and studied composition with Irma Ravinale. At the age of 17, he made his theatre debut with a production of Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and other madrigals that he organized himself. After studying all the Shostakovich Symphonies with Kondrashin at the Moscow Conservatory, he graduated with Mussin at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with maximum votes, conducting Shostakovich’s fifth symphony. Winner of the RAI Turin competition and Karajan Competition in Berlin, he started his career at the Berlin State Opera “Unter den Linden” as repetiteur and assistant of Otmar Suitner. That experience in a great German opera house with all Wagner and Strauss works gave a decisive turn to his repertoire.
Caetani’s deep experience, now of almost thirty years, in the opera repertoire by Verdi, Mussorgsky and Wagner (including several Ring productions) has influenced his approach to the great works also symphonic works, of the twentieth century (particularly Bartok, the second Viennese school and the French impressionism).
The first opera Caetani conducted at the age of 24, was Eugene Onegin in 1981, when graduating from St. Petersburg’s Conservatory. Since then has Tchaikovsky played an important role in his repertoire. He conducted new productions of Orleanskaya Deva (Joan of Arch) in Strasbourg (first performance in France in 1998), The Queen of Spades with J. Schaaf in Stuttgart, and Nutcracker with the Swiss architect Mario Botta in Zürich. He recently recorded all Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies including Manfred (2008). The Financial Times wrote: “Do we need another set of Tchaikovsky symphonies? Having listened and re-listened to these live recordings, the answer is an emphatic yes. Caetani is not an indulgent Tchaikovskyan... he lets Tchaikovsky speak for himself: the contrapuntal rigour, the emotional tenderness, the occasional hint of hysteria within a classical structure... a treasure at any price”.
After conducting Oedipe by Enescu as his first professional opera performance in 1983, Caetani has endeavoured to conduct the wonderfully original music of Enescu whenever possible. As a result, following his performances of Oedipe as opening of the 2009 Enescu Festival in 2009, he received the legion of honor of the Romanian Republic for performing Enescu’s music around the world.
Caetani has also devoted himself to recording and conducting other less-known composers of the twentieth century such as Mossolov, Pizzetti, Gerhard etc.
Since the studying time, Shostakovich’s music has a central role in his repertoire. Caetani translated the libretto of The Nose in German for his production in Frankfurt in 1991. He conducted the Italian premiere of the operetta Moscow Cheriomushki in 2007 and has conducted many first performances of Shostakovich’s symphonies all over the world as well as recording Italy’s first complete cycle of Shostakovich symphonies with the Verdi Orchestra in Milan. The CDs have won several prizes: 10/10 from Classical Today in USA, ffff Télérama in France and Record Geijutsu in Japan.
Since 1999 Caetani has a particularly close relationship with the Sydney Symphony, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Verdi Orchestra and with them he has also toured in South America (2003) and Spain (2009). In April 2008, he conducted the Verdi Orchestra in a concert presented by the Italian President to Pope Benedetto XVI. in the Vatican which was recorded live for Eurovision TV.
In 2001 he made his debut at La Scala, Milan with Turandot, returning there in 2005 to conduct Otello. He opened the 2001 season of the Theatre of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino with Don Pasquale.
Recent engagements have included Vaughan Williams’ Sir John In Love and Khovanchina at the English National Opera, a company with which Caetani has a particularly close relationship, The Flying Dutchman at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, L’enfant et les sortilèges at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, La voix humaine coupled with The Bluebeard Castle and Don Carlos in Köln, Madama Butterfly in Berlin and in London at the ENO etc. He regularly conducts orchestras such as Staatskapelle Dresden, Munich Philharmonic, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Gewandhausorchester, Wiener Symphoniker (with whom he has recorded Poliuto by Donizetti for Emi-Cbs), Orchestre National de Radio France, the RAI National Symphonic Orchestra, l’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Yomiuri Orchestra, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow etc.