Francesco Meli is one of the most fascinating and sought-after tenors in the world.
He was born in Genoa in 1980 and began his singing studies at the age of seventeen at the Conservatorio Paganini, continuing with Vittorio Terranova and going on to gain recognition at several competitions for opera singers, including the Caruso, the Zandonai and the Tosti competitions.
In 2002 he debuted in Macbeth, the Petite Messe Solennelle and in Puccini’s Messa di Gloria at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto. This marked the start of an outstanding career performing a repertoire of Bel canto and Rossini. In 2022 he is celebrating his twenty year long career, eighteen years of collaboration with the Teatro alla Scala and twentieth role at the Milanese theatre. In fact, he made his debut at La Scala at the age of just 23 in Les Dialogues des Carmelites conducted by Maestro Riccardo Muti and has returned there over the years to perform in Otello, Idomeneo, Don Giovanni, Maria Stuarda, Der Rosenkavalier, Carmen, Giovanna d’Arco, I due Foscari, Don Carlo, La traviata, Ernani, Tosca, Il Trovatore, Aida, L’elisir d’amore, Macbeth and Un ballo in maschera.
In 2004 he made his debut as Nemorino in Elisir d’amore, a role which he went on to sing in numerous theatres. Since 2005 he has opened the Carlo Felice opera season in Don Giovanni and the Rossini Opera Festival season with a new production of Bianca e Falliero and has sung in Il Barbiere di Siviglia in Zurich, Don Giovanni at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, La Sonnambula in Lyon for a Virgin recording with Natalie Dessay, in Così fan tutte under conductor Riccardo Muti in Vienna, where he returned to perform in a new production of Anna Bolena, in Maometto II at the Rossini Opera Festival and in Tokyo, again in Pesaro in Torvaldo e Dorliska for the opening of the 2006 Festival and as the Duke of Mantua in his debuts at the Royal Opera House and at the Metropolitan Opera.
Since 2009 he has gradually turned his attention from Bel canto roles towards dramatic opera: following performances in I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata, Simon Boccanegra and Werther in Parma, he debuted in the major Verdi roles and in 2013, the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, he sang in Simon Boccanegra, I due Foscari, Ernani and in Nabucco at the Rome Opera and in Salzburg under conductor Riccardo Muti, Ernani at the New York Metropolitan, Macbeth conducted by Muti in Chicago, Simon Boccanegra in Vienna and at Teatro La Fenice, Un ballo in maschera in Parma, Rome, the Arena in Verona and La Fenice, Il Trovatore at La Fenice and in new productions in Salzburg, Covent Garden, Amsterdam and Monte Carlo, I due Foscari in Los Angeles, Covent Garden and at La Scala, Giovanna d’Arco in Salzburg and at La Scala to inaugurate the season, Don Carlo at La Scala, Aida at the Salzburg Festival conducted by Riccardo Muti and in new productions of Carmen in Madrid and Covent Garden. He has on five occasions inaugurated the season at La Scala and he sang at the opening concerts for the Turin Olympics and for EXPO 2015 in Milan, both broadcast by Rai.
Francesco Meli has a repertoire of over fifty roles and has performed under the world’s most eminent conductors, working regularly with Riccardo Chailly, Myung-Whun Chung, Fabio Luisi, Riccardo Muti, Christian Thielemann, Gianandrea Noseda, Antonio Pappano, Daniele Rustioni and Yuri Temirkanov.
He has performed in solo recitals at La Scala and in London, Tokyo and St. Petersburg and in the Verdi Requiem with Riccardo Chailly, Daniele Gatti, Fabio Luisi, Riccardo Muti, Lorin Maazel, Gianandrea Noseda and Yuri Temirkanov at La Scala and in London, Paris, Zurich, Moscow, Salzburg, St. Petersburg, Tokyo and Vienna. In 2019, during the Easter Festival at Baden-Baden, he performed for the first time with the Berliner Philharmoniker, again singing in the Verdi Requiem conducted by Muti.
Besides the Verdi Requiem, his concert repertoire includes the Requiems by Mozart, Donizetti, Dvořák and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle and Stabat Mater, Messe di Gloria by Puccini and Mascagni, Verdi’s Hymn of the Nations, Dvořák’s Stabat Mater and Pulcinella by Stravinsky. Amongst chamber music pieces, he has a particular affinity with Romances by Tosti and Respighi but also Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Duparc and Ravel. He has recorded Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo by Britten and Three Sonnets of Petrarca by Liszt (Opus Arte).
In 2013 he won the Abbiati Award for his performances of Verdi, and has also won the Maschera d’oro, the “Opera Star” International Opera Award, the Zenatello Award at the Arena in Verona, the Orazio Tosi Award, the Carlo Alberto Cappelli Award, the Pertile Award, the Lugo Award, the Prandelli Award, the Mascagni Award, the Tiberini d’oro Award, the ISO d’oro, the Labò Award and the Pavarotti d’oro.
Since February 2020 he has been Ambassador for the Renata Tebaldi museum in Busseto.
His recordings are available on a range of DVDs released by Deutsche Grammophon, Unitel and Opus Arte.
His most recent engagements include Simon Boccanegra in London, Genoa and Vienna, Ernani and La Traviata at La Scala, the Verdi Requiem conducted by Riccardo Muti in Tokyo, Baden-Baden and at the Salzburg Festival, Aida at La Fenice and in a concert performance in Chicago with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Muti. The 2019/2020 season includes the Verdi Opera Gala in Piacenza, Giovanna d’Arco in a concert at La Monnaie, Ernani in concerts in Lyon, Paris and Vichy and the Verdi Requiem with Muti conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Musikverein in Vienna. He inaugurated the 2019/2020 season at La Scala singing as Cavaradossi in Tosca, conducted by Riccardo Chailly and directed by Davide Livermore. When on February 23rd 2020 La Scala closed as a result of coronavirus, he was engaged in Il Trovatore, another of his signature roles, in which he was due to celebrate his 50th performance in February.
He resumed concert activity in summer 2020 with a concert performance of Un ballo in maschera at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, in concerts with piano accompaniment at the Teatro Municipale in Piacenza, La Scala, La Fenice, at the Festival della Valle d’Itria and the Parco Archeologico Scolacium and in a concert with orchestra at the Arena di Verona.
At the end of August he sang in the Verdi Requiem, first conducted by Zubin Mehta at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and following this with the Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala conducted by Riccardo Chailly in the cathedrals of Milan, Bergamo and Brescia. In October 2020 he was Radamès in a concert performance of Aida at La Scala. On 5th December he sang in a concert performance of I due Foscari at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo.
He took part in “A riveder le stelle”, the show which the Teatro alla Scala organized in collaboration with Rai for 7th December 2020.
At the beginning of 2021 he completed an extended tour in Japan in concert performances and as Cavaradossi in Tosca at the New National Theatre in Tokyo. Engagements this year included concerts and operas at Teatro Massimo di Palermo, the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Arena di Verona, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro Municipale di Piacenza, Teatro San Carlo, Bayerische Staatsoper. In November 2021 he realeased “Prima Verdi”, his first album devoted to a single composer. In December 2021 he opened the season at Teatro alla Scala for his fifth time, singing as Macduff in Macbeth.
In 2022 performed in concerts and galas at the Semperoper Dresden (Aida), Teatro alla Scala and Lyric Opera of Chicago (Un ballo in maschera), Opera di Roma (Ernani), Margitszigeti Színház in Budapest (Tosca), Arena di Verona (La traviata) and Royal Opera House (Aida), among others.
The 2023 season will see him perform in three more productions at the Teatro del Maggio (Don Carlo, La traviata and Carmen) before returning to the Royal Opera House to sing again as Radamès in Aida.
He is artistic director and one of the tutors at the Academy of Advanced Professional Training for opera singers at Genoa’s Teatro Carlo Felice.