Bard News & Events

Press Release


Mark Primoff

An internationally recognized director of opera and theater, Francesca Zambello made her American debut at the Houston Grand Opera with a production of Fidelio in 1984. She debuted in Europe at Venice’s Teatro la Fenice with Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda in1987 and has since staged new productions at major theaters and opera houses in Europe and the USA. She takes a special interest in new music theater works, innovative productions, and in producing theater and opera for wider audiences.

Francesca Zambello was recently awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for her contribution to French culture and the Russian Federation's medal for Service to Culture. Other honors for her work include three Olivier Awards from the London Society of Theaters for Musorgsky’s Khovanshchina (English National Opera, 1994), Britten’s Billy Budd (Royal Opera House, 1995) and Paul Bunyan (Royal Opera House, 1998). Her production of Kurt Weill’s Lady in the Dark (Royal National Theatre, 1997) received the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical. She also received the Best Company Achievement for Paul Bunyan (1998). The French Grand Prix des Critiques was awarded to her for Billy Budd (Paris Opera, 1997) and for Prokofiev’s War and Peace (Paris Opera, 2000). She also was given the Critics Golden Prize for 1999 for Best Production for Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites in Japan. Her production of Weill’s Street Scene, which played in Berlin at the Theater des Westens, received the Palme d'Or in Germany and France (1996). She received Seattle's Artist of the Year in 1991. Her work has also been recognized in a documentary for CBS, a profile in Time Magazine and a documentary on French ARTE TV.

Works for the 2002-3 season included Berlioz’s Les Troyens for the Metropolitan Opera; Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov at the Paris Opera; a new children's piece based on The Little Prince with Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman, Bernstein’s West Side Story for the floating stage in Bregenz, Austria; and Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular for Disneyland. Some of her work for future seasons include a world premiere for the Met, a return to the Bolshoi for Prokofiev’s Fiery Angel, and to the Bastille for Rossini’s William Tell and Verdi’s Il Trovatore.

Recent opera projects include Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors for BBC Television, the world premiere of Thérèse Raquin commissioned by the Dallas Opera and composed by Tobias Picker, Janáček’s Jenůfa for the San Francisco Opera; Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House; the opening of the Bolshoi season with Puccini’s Turandot, and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for Opera Australia.

Ms. Zambello will direct two new productions at New York’s second annual Bard SummerScape Festival in 2004 – Shostakovich’s only comic opera, The Nose, and his only musical, Moscow: Cherry Tree Towers. This is the first professional production of The Nose on the East Coast, and Cherry Tree Towers is the first U.S. production of a work the composer himself described as an operetta. It is virtually unknown in the west, despite great popularity in the former Soviet Union. Before beginning rehearsals for The Nose and Cherry Tree Towers at Bard this spring, Ms. Zambello will have completed work on a new Fiery Angel production in Moscow, given two workshops in New York city and San Francisco, and revived West Side Story in Bregenz.

An American who grew up in Europe, Francesca Zambello speaks French, Italian, German, and Russian. She attended Moscow University in 1976 and graduated cum laude from Colgate University in 1978. She began her career as an Assistant Director to the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. From 1984-1991 she was Co-Artistic Director of the Skylight Music Theater. She has been guest professor at Harvard and Berkeley Universities. Francesca Zambello lives in New York and London.


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This event was last updated on 05-23-2005