Gelmetti first conducted an orchestra in Siena at age 16.
He has served as principal conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (1989-1998) and of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra (1990-1991). Gelmetti became chief conductor of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in 2001 and held the post until 2008.
Gelmetti premiered Lorenzo Ferrero's opera Marilyn at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in 1980, Hans Werner Henze's Seventh Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1984, and Sergio Rendine's Hermes 594 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1987.
He made his first guest-conducting appearance with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1994. He became chief conductor and artistic director of the orchestra in 2004, staying until the end of 2008. He has participated in conducting courses and masterclasses for young Australian conductors.
In March 2012, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra and its president, Princess Caroline of Monaco, announced the return of Gelmetti to the orchestra as chef référent to provide interim artistic leadership for the orchestra following the March 2011 death of the orchestra's prior principal conductor, Yakov Kreizberg. In January 2013, the orchestra formalised the full re-appointment of Gelmetti as its artistic director and music director. He concluded his second Monte Carlo tenure after the 2015-2016 season and now has the title of honorary conductor (Chef Honoraire) of the orchestra.
Gelmetti's compositions include Algos (for orchestra), Prasanta Atma (in memory of Sergiu Celibidache), Cantata della vita, and In Paradisum Deducant Te Angeli. In addition, he has taught at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana of Siena since 1997.
- Anne Maria Nicholson (26 February 2004). "Sydney Symphony appoints new chief conductor (radio transcript)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The 7:30 Report. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
- Matthew Westphal (24 July 2006). "Gianluigi Gelmetti to Step Down as Opera di Roma's Music Director - And Calls for Riccardo Muti to Succeed Him". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
- Le nouveau dictionnaire des interprètes, 2015, p. 351.
- Vivien Schweitzer (8 March 2006). "Sydney Symphony Conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti to Step Down in 2008". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
- Angela Bennie (30 April 2005). "Conductors unbecoming". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
- This term can be loosely translated as 'advisory conductor'.
- Sarah Lloyd (2012-03-04). "Gianluigi Gelmetti takes charge of Monte Carlo Orchestra". Monaco Times. Archived from the original on 2012-06-10. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "Maestro Gianluigi Gelmetti is Appointed Artistic and Musical Director of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra" (Press release). Principality of Monaco. 23 January 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "Communiqué: Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo" (PDF) (Press release). Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra. 3 April 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
- "Kazuki Yamada Announced New Principal Conductor and Artistic Director in Monte Carlo" (Press release). Konzertdirektion Schmid. 3 April 2015. Archived from the original on 12 June 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
- Pâris, Alain, ed. (2015). Le nouveau dictionnaire des interprètes. Paris: Éditions Robert Laffont. ISBN 978-2-221-14576-0
- Gianluigi Gelmetti biography at the Music Partnership Limited
| Principal Conductor, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra