Massimiliano Stefanelli began his career in 1986 conducting the Orchestra da Camera di Roma in performances of Cosi fan tutte, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Un Ballo in Maschera and baroque concerts at the Church of San Giovanni Battista. He graduated with honors from the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in 1990 as Best Graduate Conductor and Best Graduate Composer.
He joined the Rome Opera in the 1991-92 season as assistant to Mo. Bruno Aprea while also leading performances of Cenerentola at the Teatro Brancaccio di Roma. During that period he expanded his orchestral repertoire in a variety of concerts with the RAI and also with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Lecce. The following season he debuted with the Graz Symphony at the Festival della Valle d’Itria with Rossini’s La Pietra del Paragone and at the Opera Buffa Festival in Sassari with Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro and Cimarosa’s Il Maestro di Cappella.
While under the guidance of Mo. Spiros Argiris, Mr. Stefanelli made his American debut in 1994 at the Spoleto Festival USA conducting Tutino’s Clarinet and Violin Concerto and returned in 1995 to conduct concerts of the music of Sophia Gubaidulina and Helena Firsowa plus an operatic concert featuring soprano Penelope Lusi. At the Teatro Lirico Sperimentale in Spoleto, Italy he did Il Matrimonio Segreto with a return engagement in 1996 for Falstaff, which he also conducted at the Spoleto Festival USA that same year.
Mo. Stefanelli made his Wolf Trap Opera debut in 1997 with the double bill of Rossini’s La Cambiale di Matrimonio and L’occasione fa il ladro, opened the Spoleto USA season with a gala concert and conducted performances of Verdi’s Falstaff with the regie of Nicholas Joel in Toulouse. In the 1997-98 season, Mo. Stefanelli joined the Metropolitan Opera assisting James Levine on the production of Rossini’s La cenerentola that featured Cecilia Bartoli. In Seville at the Teatro de la Maestranza Mo. Stefanelli debuted with Rossini’s Italiana in Algeri in the 1998-99 season.
Stefanelli has appeared at the Frankfurt Opera and the Dresden Opera conducting various operas of the Italian repertory including Trovatore and Ballo and he was featured conducting Franco Zeffirelli’s highly successful production of Aida at Bussetto which was repeated through out Italy and televised live in Eurovision in 2001 to honor the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Verdi. In the following year he conducted La traviata.
Both productions, after having great successes in the major Italian theaters, triumphed at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in December 2003 (La traviata) and in October 2005 (Aida) and were both rewarded by the Russian press as "... best show of the year". Again with Franco Zeffirelli, Maestro Stefanelli conducted Pagliacci for the Moscow Kremlin Theater and for the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Hellenic Festival of Athens, very important international festival that annually takes place in the splendid setting of the Theater of Herodes Atticus.
More recently he opened the lyric seasons of the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv with La traviata and Mefistofele, then returned to the Israeli Opera with Il trovatore, while with another interpretation of La traviata, defined as "extraordinary" by the Spanish critics, he inaugurated the 55th edition of the Santander International Festival and the last season of the "Los Veranos de la Villa" summer festival in Madrid.
Again with La traviata, this time directed by Graham Vick, he made his debut with the Birmingham Opera Company at the helm of the prestigious City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), a debut that earned him the widest recognition from the most important English national press and that he was awarded the assignment, with the others, of the most prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award. Then again Andrea Chénier, Romeo et Juliette by Hector Berlioz at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, again with Franco Zeffirelli for La traviata, Pagliacci, Tosca and Aida and new productions by La boheme, Mosè in Egitto, Puccini's Trittico, Manon Lescaut, Macbeth and Il Trovatore. With Aida and Carmen performed for the Opera of Tenerife and a lucky tour in Chile. At the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari he conducted Nabucco.