The Swiss-Italian conductor and director of opera, Marcello Viotti, was born in the French-speaking region of Switzerland to Italian parents. He studied cello, piano and singing at the conservatory of Lausanne. As a young man, he was mentored by Wolfgang Sawallisch, who encouraged him to begin his career in the theatre.
Marcello Viotti made his debut in Geneva as the conductor of a wind instrument group that he had founded. In 1981 (or 1982) he won the first prize at the Gino Marinuzzi competition in San Remo, Italy, an honour which lead to engagements in the most important Italian cities and thus initiated a successful career: From 1985 to 1987 he was permanent guest conductor of the Tetaro Regio in Torino (Turin); from 1987 to 1990 he was artistic director of the Stadttheater Luzern; from 1990 to 1993 he was general musical director of the City of Bremen; and in 1991 he became chief conductor of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken and was named 1st guest conductor of the Vienna State Opera. He constantly served as 1st guest conductor of the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and permanent guest conductor of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich from 1993.
From 1996 to 1999 Marcello Viotti was one of the three chief conductors of the MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig. In 1998 he took on the position of chief conductor of the Münchner Rundfunkorchester where he distinguished himself as one of the most fascinating music personalities of our time, not only through his passionate, meticulous musical skills, but also through his differentiated programme selection. Since the season of 1999-2000, he has been hugely successful with a concert cycle under the name of “Paradisi Gloria” where audiences are presented with spiritual music of the 20th century.
For quite some years, Marcello Viotti has been a regular figure at the most important European opera houses, such as the State Operas in Hamburg, Munich and Vienna, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Opernhaus Zürich, the Theatre Royal De La Monnaie Bruxelles, the Opera Bastille in Paris, the Teatro Alla Scala Milano, and - in the USA - the San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera New York, furthermore at various prestigious festivals, such as Schleswig-Holstein, Bregenz and Salzburg.
Marcello Viotti also gave guest performances with L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, English Chamber Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Münchner Philharmoniker and Wiener Philharmoniker with whom he made his debut in 1997 at the Salzburger Mozartwoche. He has furthermore worked on a regular basis with the Bamberger Symphoniker, Symphonieorchester Des Hessischen Rundfunks Frankfurt and Wiener Symphoniker, as well as with the important orchestras of Australia and Japan.
Another highlight of his career has been – since January 2002 - the position of "Direttore musicale" at the Gran Teatro La Fenice in Venice where he enjoyed international acclaim for his first new production, Massenet`s Thais, as well as for La Traviata and a large number of concerts.
Other important events of the 2001-2002 season were Georges Bizet`s Carmen in San Francisco, a recording for EMI of Ponchielli's La Gioconda (with, among others, Plácido Domingo) and Rossini`s La donna del lago in concert version at the Salzburg Festival. In 2002-2003 Marcello Viotti conducted – among many others - a New Production of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda in Zürich, Puccini`s La Bohème and Verdi`s La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera New York, a New Production of Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos in Venice as well as numerous concerts in Berlin, München and at the Festivals of Bregenz and Salzburg. His busy calendar in the season 2003-2004 includes New Productions of Halévy's La Juive at the Metropolitan Opera New York, Verdi's Attila and G. Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles in Venice, Charles Gounod's Roméo et Juliette at the Bayerische Staatsoper München as well as a major tour in the Far East with the Wiener Philharmoniker.
Marcello Viotti suffered a stroke about a week before his premature death, and died in a hospital in Munich on February 16, 2005. He was married and had four children. Highlights of future plans included - among many others - New Productions of Richard Wagner`s Parsifal in Venice in the spring of 2005 and Verdi`s La Traviata at the Salzburg Festival 2005.
The extraordinary career of Marcello Viotti is documented by a large range of CD recordings of popular and rare operas, concerts and solo recitals with international orchestras and star soloists for Erato and Nightingale. Apart from these labels, he has also made recordings for DGG, Claves, Koch/Schwann, BMG and EMI. He recorded albums with singers such as Plácido Domingo and recorded non-operatic classical music