Conductor Leonardo Benazzi began his career aged 13 years, as the percussionist with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Parma for performances of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. However, Benazzi's decision to forge a career in music began earlier through the influence of his grandfather, a polymath who was as knowledgeable and serious about music as he was as a Professor of Literature, proving to be an excellent mentor to Leonardo who absorbed his grandfather's writing on music, particularly the symphonic repertory and the orchestral forces in opera, which he still considers relevant today. Benazzi elder's love of Germanic romantic music and literature was passed on to Leonardo along with his admiration for the conducting of the legendary Parma-born Arturo Toscanini. Leonardo was encouraged to follow his ambition to become a conductor and entered the Arrigo Boïto Conservatory in Parma, where he furthered his studies as a pianist and percussionist.
During his studies Leonardo became a member of the 'Nextime Ensemble' percussion group. In 2005 he joined the Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Parma and in 2006 was made a member of the 'Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra' founded by Maestro Riccardo Muti, he continued to perform with both orchestras as timpanist and percussionist until 2010.
At this time Leonardo Benazzi's composition "Gestes d'Identitèe" was premiered in Paris at La Bellevilloise and after this he worked in Moscow with the Russian National Orchestra, conducting Beethoven's Symphony No.3 "Eroica". From 2015 to 2017 Benazzi was the assistant to Michele Mariotti at the Teatro Communale di Bologna, making his conducting debut there with Beethoven's Symphony No.7 and works from operas by Verdi including: Attilla, Ernani, La forza del Destino, I Lombardi and La Traviata.
After completing his studies at the Arrigo Boïto Conservatory, Leonardo began composition studies with Alberto Tosi and private conducting studies with Gilberto Serembe, in Milan. Upon graduation in Italy Leonardo Benazzi was one of only three conductors accepted for study with the exacting Head of Department, Colin Metters at the Royal Academy of Music, London.
From the 2017 to 2019 seasons Leonardo Benazzi became the assistant to Ezio Bosso, working with him in the Teatro Regio di Torino, the Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari and the 'Mozart 21 Foundation' created by the Abbado family in memory of Maestro Claudio Abbado. Additional conducting activities whilst supporting Maestro Bosso were with the Orchestra Metropolitana di Bari at Teatro Apollo, Lecce, where Benazzi conducted major symphonic works by Bosso.
Leonardo Benazzi studied and conducted numerous operas during his tenure supporting Michele Mariotti, Ezio Bosso and Philippe Auguin such as: La Boheme, Attila, Werther, I Due Foscari, La Donna del Lago, Lucia di Lammermoor, Les Huguenots, Macbeth et al, in various houses from Teatro Communale di Bologna, Teatro La Scala, Rossini Opera Festival, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Teatro Regio di Parma and the Deutsche Oper, Berlin.
Benazzi's repertory is wide, naturally for a native of Parma he has a passion for Verdi, but also loves the operas of his contemporaries: Rossini – Guglielmo Tell, L'Italiana in Algeri, La Gazza Ladra, Semiramide, Il Signor Bruschino, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Donna del Lago, Bellini – Norma, I Puritano, Il Pirata, Donizetti – Lucia di Lammermoor, Lucrezia Borgia, L'Elisir d'Amore, La Fille du Regiment, and the operas of Puccini from Le Villi to Turandot, plus those by Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Cilea. Boïto and Giordano.
He worked with Maestro Muti for a production of Don Pasquale and although he has learnt and prepared many of the major Italian operas he has a keen interest in the rarer Italian operas, particularly the middle period and early Verdi operas, and those by Spontini and Cherubini. Leonardo Benazzi has an special affinity with the operas of Mozart, particularly the Da Ponte trilogy: Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro; Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito and from the Germanic repertory: Der Freischütz, Fidelio, Elektra, Salome, Der Rosenkavalier, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Götterdämmerung, Parsifal, Rienzi, Die fliegende Höllander, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Tristan und Isolde.
In the symphonic genre Leonardo Benazzi has equally broad tastes and has conducted Beethoven symphonies 1 – 9, Overtures, Piano Concerto No.5 "Emperor", Mozart Overtures and the late Symphonies, the 12 London Symphonies of Haydn, Schubert's symphonies 5 and 8, Shostakovich symphonies 5, 6, & 7, Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps, Dumbarton Oaks, Jeux de Cartes and Danses Concertantes, Mahler symphonies 1 & 6, Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, Piano Concerto No.1, Elgar's Enigma Variations, Kodaly Dances of Galanta, Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No.2, Schumann symphonies 1 – 4, Tchaikovsky symphonies 1, 4, 5 & 6 and the Serenade for Strings, Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Symphony No.2. He has prepared the Brahms symphonies and concertos, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Mass in C and Christ on the Mount of Olives, and the Mozart Requiem.