With performances that have been called poetic, earthy, vigorous and highly individual, conductor Ari Pelto is in demand at elite opera houses, ballets, symphonies and conservatories throughout the United States. After his highly praised 2004 début at New York City Opera with Verdi’s La Traviata, Mr. Pelto was engaged as a regular guest there, returning for Madama Butterfly (“to die for” according to the New York Sun), Jennifer Griffith’s The Dream President, La bohème, and Carmen. Recent highlights and upcoming opera house engagements include La bohème with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the St. Louis Symphony, The Cunning Little Vixen at Chautauqua (where he “led a taut, rakish, and, at the right times, sentimental reading of this tricky score,” according to Opera Today), Rusalka and La bohème at Boston Lyric Opera, Romeo et Juliet at Minnesota Opera, The Magic Flute, Figaro, and Hansel and Gretel at Portland Opera, as well as Carmen and Hansel and Gretel at Utah Opera.
He has also been a regular guest conductor of the Atlanta Ballet. Of a performance of Prokofiev’s Cinderella, the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote, “Under Ari Pelto’s baton, the orchestra has never sounded better, nor the chemistry between pit and stage been quite so palpable.” In 2012, he collaborated with Twyla Tharp on the premiere of her new ballet, The Princess and the Goblin.
Mr. Pelto has conducted operas of Mozart and Stravinsky at the Curtis Institute of Music, Gluck and Mozart at the Juilliard School, Puccini and Massenet at San Francisco Conservatory, and Stephen Paulus and Raffaello de Banfield at the Manhattan School of Music. At the Oberlin Conservatory, he has led works of Mahler, Mozart and Poulenc, and at New York University, works of Sibelius, Brahms, Dvorak and Martinu.
In addition, Mr. Pelto works regularly at the country’s most prestigious young artist programs. At San Francisco Opera’s Merola, he has conducted Così Fan Tutte and Britten’s Rape of Lucretia, in which he “evoked superb vigor and stylish beauty of playing,” according to the San Francisco Classical Voice. At Wolf Trap, he inaugurated a new production of Le Nozze di Figaro and led a Don Giovanni “shaped and paced with consummate skill,” per the Washington Post. He recently premiered new productions of Figaro and Falstaff at the New National Theatre, Tokyo, where for eight years he has been engaged as a regular faculty member and conductor. Elsewhere outside America, he has conducted in Italy, Germany, and Bulgaria.
Mr. Pelto has also been a frequent guest with the Florida Orchestra and Toledo Symphony. From 2000-2002 he was Assistant Conductor of the Florida West Coast Symphony (now the Sarasota Orchestra) where he conducted over thirty concerts. During the same period, he led two tours of the Western Opera Theater (San Francisco Opera’s national touring company) conducting La bohème in twenty states and Così Fan Tutte in twenty-one.
Mr. Pelto studied violin performance at Oberlin, and conducting at Indiana University.