Born in Adria, Italy, Nello Santi studied at the Padua Conservatory and made his operatic debut there at the age of 20, conducting Verdi's Rigoletto. Mo. Santi later became principal conductor of the San Carlos Theater in Lisbon and guest appearances soon followed in Madrid, Lyon and Modena. He was named principal guest conductor of the Zurich Opera in 1960 and since then has conducted in all the major opera centers of Europe including Milan’s La Scala Florence, Bologna, Turin, Genoa, Naples, Venice, Salzburg Festival, Munich’s National Theatre, the Hamburg State Opera and Vienna State Opera.
Maestro Santi made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1962 with Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera and celebrated his 35th anniversary with the company in February (1997) leading a repertory of 16 different operas.
Mo. Santi is now Principal Conductor of the Italian opera repertoire with the Zurich Opera and Music Director of the Swiss Radio Orchestra in Basel and Principal Guest Conductor of the Yomuiri Nippon Symphony in Tokyo.
During recent seasons Mo. Santi has conducted new productions of Verdi’s Rigoletto and Aida at the famous Arena di Verona, Traviata at the Pala Fenice in Venice (temporary home of the La Fenice theater) Bellini's Norma at the Royal Opera in Oslo, Symphonic concerts with the Orquestra de la Radio-Television Espanola and the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia in Rome. On the 50th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Mo Santi led a performance of the Verdi Requiem at the Vatican in the presence of His Holiness, John Paul II. Mo. Santi led the final concerts at this past season’s Orange Festival with the Verdi work in July 1998.
Engagements at the Metropolitan Opera this season include Puccini’s Tosca and Verdi’s Aida while at Zurich Mo. Santi reprises Verdi’s Ernani and a new production of Verdi’s Nabucco as well as reprise performances of Simon Boccanegra at the Zurich Opera. Future projects for Mo. Santi include a new production of Verdi’s Otello for the Zurich Opera celebrating the 100th anniversary of the composer’s death, plus new productions of that work and of Nabucco at San Francisco Opera plus revivals at the Metropolitan Opera of Rigoletto both in the house and for the Met in the Parks.