(b Crescentino, Piedmont, 22 July 1822; d Hove, Sussex, 1 May 1903). Italian conductor and composer. He studied the violin and composition at Milan Conservatory with Bernardo Ferrara for violin and Nicola Vaccai for composition. From this period come many of his chamber and orchestral works today found at the Milan Conservatory. His first opera, I briganti, was given there in 1841. Arditi began to work as first violin-conductor in Vercelli and in Milan, 1842–46, in minor opera houses like Teatro Re and Teatro Carcano. After working in Vercelli and Milan, 1842–6, he went with Bottesini to Havana, where he worked at the Teatro Imperial and directed a one-act opera, Il corsaro, at the Teatro de Tacón in 1847. He later conducted in Canada (1853) and the USA (1854–6), and his opera La spia was produced in New York in 1856. His later compositions were mostly occasional orchestral pieces and songs, notably the famous vocal waltz, Il bacio.
After European tours Arditi settled in London as conductor at Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1858. He remained there for 11 years, conducting Italian operas and taking the company on tours, especially to Dublin. He made many tours to Europe, chiefly with Italian opera companies. In 1869 he succeeded Costa at Covent Garden for one year and followed this with seasons at the St Petersburg Italian Opera (1871 and 1873). From 1870 he conducted annually in Vienna, and from 1874 to 1877 directed the promenade concerts at Covent Garden. Between 1878 and 1894 Arditi was largely concerned with Mapleson’s annual opera tours of the USA, but he also worked at London theatres and toured with the Carl Rosa company (1894). His Reminiscences were published in London in 1896. Shaw wrote of him: ‘He can conduct anything, and come off without defeat’. Arditi’s considerable contribution to London musical life included the introduction of 23 important operas; these included new works, among them Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera (1861) and La forza del destino (1867), Gounod’s Faust (1863), Thomas’ Hamlet and Mignon and Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer (1870), Boito’s Mefistofele (1880) and Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana (1891); and also works of historical significance such as Cherubini’s Médée (1865) and Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride (1866).