Born in Switzerland of Russian and Italian descent, Oleg Caetani studied with Nadia Boulanger before his study at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia of Rome, where he attended conducting class by Franco Ferrara and studied composition with Irma Ravinale. After studying all the Shostakovich Symphonies with Kondrashin at the Moscow Conservatory, he graduated with Musin at the St Petersburg Conservatory with maximum votes, conducting Shostakovich’s Fifth symphony.
Winner of the RAI Turin Competition and Karajan Competition in Berlin, Caetani conducted Eugene Onegin at the age of 24 in 1981 as his opera début when graduating from the St Petersburg Conservatory. Since then, Tchaikovsky has played an important part of his repertoire. In 2008, he recorded the complete symphonies of Tchaikovsky with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Over the thirty years of his conducting career, he has appeared at many of the world’s prestigious concert halls, theatres and music festivals. Recent engagements include Vaughan Williams’s Sir John in Love and at the English National Opera, Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in Oslo and La Bohème in London at the ENO.
Shostakovich’s music has a central role in his repertoire. Caetani translated the libretto of The Nose in German for his production in Frankfurt in 1991, conducted the Italian première of the operetta Moscow Cheryomushki in 2007 and has conducted many first performances of Shostakovich’s symphonies all over the world as well as recording Italy's first complete cycle of Shostakovich symphonies with the Verdi Orchestra in Milan. Since 1999 Caetani has a particularly close relationship with the Verdi Orchestra and has also toured with them in South America (2003) and Spain (2009). In April 2008, he conducted the Verdi Orchestra in a concert presented by the Italian President to Pope Benedetto XVI in the Vatican which was recorded live for Eurovision TV.
Caetani has also devoted himself to recording and conducting other less-known composers of the twentieth century such as Mosolov, Pizzetti and Gerhard. His recordings of Tansman’s symphonies, released by Chandos, have won three Diapason d’Or in 2006 and 2008.