After growing up in Tunisia, where his mother was a school teacher, he graduated from the Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome in 1953. He acted in productions of Luigi Squarzina, Orazio Costa, Michelangelo Antonioni and others. In 1963, he directed his first play and since then has worked almost exclusively as a director.
Ronconi managed the Teatro Stabile di Torino from 1989 to 1994, where he directed an imposing edition of Karl Kraus' The Last Days of Mankind, with more than sixty actors, staged in the Lingotto (1991). The play was performed soon after the First Gulf War and its anti-militaristic content was evidently tied to that conflict.
Ronconi collaborated with important stage designers, among them Pier Luigi Pizzi (The Bacchae, Die Walküre, Siegfried), Luciano Damiani (The Birds, The Oresteia, Don Carlos), and Ezio Frigerio (Les Troyens). He also inspired the architect Gae Aulenti to design certain of his productions (Il viaggio a Reims). Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld also created the costumes for some of Ronconi's stagings (Les Troyens).