Opera Scotland

Elijah Moshinsky Suggest updates

Born Shanghai, 8 January 1946.

Died London, 14 January 2021.

Australian opera, theatre and television director.

Elijah Moshinsky's parents were Russian Jews who fled from Vladivostok to Shanghai, then eventually to Melbourne.  He studied at the University of Melbourne then St Antony's College, Oxford, directing student theatre productions in both places.  The General Administrator at Covent Garden, Sir John Tooley, saw one of his Shakespeare stagings and immediately took him to the Royal Opera House as a staff producer.  One of his first assignments was to assist Götz Friedrich on a new staging of the Ring.

He was quickly given a production of his own to direct, and in 1975 his remarkably simple staging of Peter Grimes, conducted by Colin Davis, with Jon Vickers and Heather Harper in the leads, was a total success.  The company took it on the 1976 exchange visit to La Scala, Milan.  In later years it was also taken to Tokyo and Los Angeles (for the Olympic Games festival).

He worked regularly at the Royal Opera House over some forty-odd years, directing works by Handel (Samson);   Mozart (Die Entführung);  Wagner (TannhäuserLohengrin);  Verdi (AttilaMacbeth I masnadieri,  StiffelioIl trovatore,  Simon BoccanegraAïdaOtello);  Saint-Saëns (Samson et Dalila) and Stravinsky (The Rake's Progress).

He also directed at most of the major British companies.  English National:  Wagner (Mastersingers);  Smetana (Bartered Bride);  Sullivan (Pirates of Penzance);  Ligeti (Le Grand Macabre).  Welsh National:  Berlioz (Béatrice et Bénédict);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana).  Buxton Festival :  Verdi (Giovanna d'ArcoMacbeth).

In Scotland he worked twice with Scottish Opera, firstly in an excellent staging of La bohème, and secondly in a very rare staging of the original St Petersburg version of La forza del destino.  During their 1998 visit to the Edinburgh Festival, the Royal Opera brought its production of another Verdi rarity,  I masnadieri.

In the USA he worked most frequently at thr New York Met, in stagings of Handel (Samson);  Verdi (NabuccoLuisa MillerUn ballo in maschera Otello);  Tchaikovsky (Queen of Spades);  Saint-Saëns (Samson et Dalila);   Janáček (Makropulos Affair) and Strauss (Ariadne auf Naxos).

At Chicago his credits include Handel (Samson);  Wagner (Lohengrin);  Verdi (Nabucco);  Smetana (Bartered Bride);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana);  Sullivan (Pirates of Penzance);  Barber (Antony and Cleopatra).

With Opera Australia he directed:  Rossini (Barber of Seville);  Verdi (Rigoletto TrovatoreTraviataDon Carlos);  Musorgsky (Boris Godunov);  Humperdinck (Hansel and Gretel);  Britten (A Midsummer Night's Dream).

As a theatre director he worked with the National Theatre,  Royal Shakespeare Company and in the West End, as well as on Broadway.   He made some original films and prepared television presentations of his opera stagings.  He also produced for television some Shakespeare plays, including Cymbeline, and a staging of The Midsummer Marriage (Tippett).

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