Kirill Petrenko was born in Omsk in 1972 and studied piano there at the Music Academy. At the age of eleven, he made his first public appearance as a pianist with the city's symphony orchestra. In 1990, the family (his father was a violinist, his mother a musicologist) moved to the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, where his father obtained a job as an orchestral musician and music teacher. Petrenko initially continued his studies in Feldkirch and then studied conducting at the University of Music in Vienna, from which he graduated in June 1997. His first engagement, from autumn 1997, was as Assistant and rehearsal accompanist at the Volksoper in Vienna.
From 1999 to 2002, Kirill Petrenko served as General Music Director at the theatre in Meiningen, where he attracted international attention for the first time in 2001 with the Ring des Nibelungen in the production directed by Christine Mielitz and designed by Alfred Hrdlicka.
From 2002 to 2007, Kirill Petrenko was General Music Director at the Komische Oper in Berlin. The most important new productions, which Petrenko decisively influenced here included interpretations in collaboration with directors such as Peter Konwitschny, Calixto Bieito, Willi Decker or Andreas Homoki.
In parallel with his positions in Meiningen and Berlin, his international career also took off very quickly. Major débuts included the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 2000; the Vienna State Opera and the Semperoper in Dresden in 2001; the Gran Teatre de Liceu, Opéra National de Paris, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Bavarian State Opera and Metropolitan Opera New York in 2003; the Frankfurt opera in 2005. From 2006 to 2008, he collaborated with Peter Stein on P.I. Tchaikovsky's cycle of Pushkin operas in Lyon, which was then performed in its entirety in spring 2010.
Since leaving the Komische Oper in July 2007, Kirill Petrenko has worked as a guest conductor. In 2009, among other works, he conducted the new production of Leoš Janáček's Jenůfa directed by Barbara Frey at the Bavarian State Opera and Hans Pfizner's Palestrina directed by Harry Kupfer in Frankfurt. In 2011, Kirill Petrenko conducted the new production of Tosca in collaboration with Andreas Kriegenburg, again in Frankfurt, along with Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (in collaboration with Willy Decker) in Lyon and at the Ruhr Triennale.
The most important orchestras that Kirill Petrenko has conducted to date include the Berlin Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Bavarian State Orchestra, the Orchestra of WDR Cologne, the Hamburg Philharmonic and the Hamburg NDR Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Museum Orchestra, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra Santa Cecilia, the Orchestra RAI Torino and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, Kirill Petrenko has conducted concerts at the Salzburg and Bregenz Festivals.
Summer 2013 will see a new production of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Bayreuth Festival.
From 1 September 2013, Kirill Petrenko will assume the post of General Music Director at the Bavarian State Opera. New productions in the 2013/14 season: Richard Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's La clemenza di Tito and Bernd Alois Zimmermann's Die Soldaten.