Opera Scotland

Jean-Pierre Ponnelle Suggest updates

Born Paris, 19 February 1932.

Died Munich,  11 August 1988.

French director and designer.

Jean-Pierre Ponnelle was a highly-talented director and designer with a great sense of style, particularly adept at comedy, but also good at serious work.  He  studied art in Paris and designed the premieres of two operas by his friend from student days,  Hans Werner Henze - Boulevard Solitude (1952) and König Hirsch (1956).

From 1952-9 he worked as a designer in the USA, Germany and Italy.  After military service he turned to the direction of plays, then in 1962 in Düsseldorf, his first opera staging,  Tristan und Isolde.  While continuing to work at Düsseldorf and Cologne, he developed a career that took him to all the world's leading opera houses.

He worked at the Salzburg Festival (Le nozze di FigaroCosìi fan tutte, Il barbiere di Siviglia); New York Met (L'italiana in Algeri,  Idomeneo); San Francisco (La cenerentola);  Munich (Pelléas et Mélisande);  Bayreuth (Tristan und Isolde);  Zürich (a Monteverdi cycle) and Cologne (a Mozart cycle).

He did not direct much in the UK, though Covent Garden saw an excellent production of Don Pasquale and a rather less successful Aïda.  Glyndebourne put on a memorable Falstaff.

Several of his stagings were brought to the Edinburgh Festival.  In 1965 his designs for Intermezzo were brought from Munich.  His production of La cenerentola was a collaboration between Edinburgh and Florence, soon revived at La Scala, San Francisco and elsewhere.  Düsseldorf brought L'italiana in Algeri and Zürich its Monteverdi cycle.  Finally Cologne brought two of its stylish Mozart works also familiar with several major houses.

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