Laurent Pelly

Co-Director, Théâtre National de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées

Laurent Pelly enjoys a career as one of France's most sought after directors of both theatre and opera.  He is particularly renowned for his work in French repertoire, and has a skill for revealing the serious side of comedy. He underlines his interpretation of characters through skillful and inspired costume designs and in recent years has expanded into set design.  New productions for 13/14 include Bellini’s I Puritani for L’Opéra national de Paris, Rossini’s Le Comte Ory for L’Opéra national de Lyon and Teatro alla Scala, Milan and Don Pasquale for Sante Fe, San Francisco and Teatro del Liceu Barcelona.  Other current work includes Ravel’s L'enfant et les sortilèges and L'heure espagnole for the Glyndebourne and Saito Kinen Festivals.

Laurent Pelly and Barbara de Limburg win Gramophone Award for Best Opera Recording

28 Aug 2014

Laurent Pelly’s acclaimed production of Ravel’s L’Heure espagnole / L’enfant et les sortileges (Glyndebourne Festival 2012) has won the 2014 Gramophone Award for Best Opera...

Santa Fe Audiences Delighted by Don Pasquale

03 Jul 2014

Laurent Pelly’s new production of Donizetti’s comic “lovers” opera Don Pasquale, was rapturously received by Santa Fe opera goers on opening night.  One of the greatest of all...

“La fille du regiment” returns to Covent Garden

05 Mar 2014

Laurent Pelly’s acclaimed production of Donizetti’s comic opera La fille du régiment is currently being revived at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden by stage director Christian Räth.  This...

Laurent Pelly stages Le Comte Ory at Opéra de Lyon

21 Feb 2014

Laurent Pelly creates a new production of Rossini’s comic opera Le Comte Ory for Opéra de Lyon - a co-production with Teatro alla Scala,.  Rossini’s penultimate opera - and his only...

Teatro dell’Opera di Roma stages Laurent Pelly and Barbara de Limburg’s acclaimed Ravel operas

29 Jan 2014

Laurent Pelly’s production of Ravel’s only two surviving operas L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les Sortilèges received critical acclaim at the 2012 Glyndebourne Festival and...

Christian Räth stages Laurent Pelly's Manon at Covent Garden

22 Jan 2014

Christian Räth returns to the Royal Opera House to revive Laurent Pelly’s highly acclaimed production of Massanet’s Manon.  This co-production with Teatro alla Scala Milan, Metropolitan Opera...

Laurent Pelly and Barbara de Limburg open Cendrillon at Liceu, Barcelona

19 Dec 2013

Pelly’s production of Massenet’s Cendrillon is the very first to be staged at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.  This production (with costume design by Pelly himself) is a book of fairy tales...

Opera de Lyon stages Les Contes d’Hoffmann

13 Dec 2013

Following a highly successful run at San Francisco Opera and Teatro del Liceu Barcelona earlier this year, Laurent Pelly’s stunning production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann premiere’s at...

Laurent Pelly stages I Puritani at Opéra Bastille, Paris

21 Nov 2013

Laurent Pelly’s new production of Bellini’s last opera I Puritani - a tale of love and vengeance, premieres on 25 November at Opera National de Paris’ Bastille Opera House.  This...

Laurent Pelly’s La fille du regiment returns to Wiener Staatsoper

24 Oct 2013

This worldwide acclaimed production from director Laurent Pelly first took to the stage in 2007 with updated dialogues by Agathe Mélinand.  Stage director Christian Räth returns to Vienna...

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“Laurent Pelly’s production of Donizetti’s La fille du regiment is so bewitching that it’s hard for those have seen it to imagine it being done any other way. And his pairing of Juan Diego Florez and Natalie Dessay in the leading roles constituted an almost impossible double-act for other singers to follow. ”

The Independent (La fille du regiment, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden) - Mar 2014

“ For the company’s first production in 17 years of Jacques Offenbach’s fantastical story of the dissolute poet E.T.A. Hoffmann, San Francisco Opera has mounted a compelling new staging by Laurent Pelly and Chantal Thomas… it was pure pleasure to sit back and enjoy San Francisco Opera’s quirky, vocally superb production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann.”

The Classical Review (Les Contes d'Hoffmann, San Francisco Opera) - Jun 2013

“ Prepare, as well, for one of the most imaginative, energetic, and visually entertaining Hoffmann's you are ever likely to see. Worse than giving away the ending would be describing what happens in Olympia’s “Doll Song.” Let’s just say that coloratura soprano, Hye Jung Lee, whose mousy little girl voice is so astoundingly suited for the role that you’d think she incarnated specifically to sing it, will send you flying. She and Pelly certainly sent the opening night audience into an uproar... you think you know Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann? Wait until you see San Francisco Opera’s oft-astounding production, brilliantly directed and costumed by Laurent Pelly  ”

San Francisco Classical Voice (Les Contes d'Hoffmann, San Francisco Opera) - Jun 2013

“ Needless to say, Pelly’s production is far more than an analytic discourse of the power of narratology. Each of the five acts (the Prologue, the three “tales,” and the Epilogue) is conceived with imaginative action and elegant design.” (Les Contes d'Hoffmann, San Francisco Opera) - Jul 2013

“Director and costumer Laurent Pelly's absolutely delightful, mind-boggling production, which runs for seven more performances in the War Memorial Opera House, has so many new twists and turns that even hardcore aficionados will be scratching their heads over all the changes”

The Bay Area Reporter (Les Contess d'Hoffmann, San Francisco Opera) - Jun 2013

“ Laurent Pelly’s direction is as airy as the work itself with successful synthesis of various influences. He stays true to the musical heartbeat of the opera, cleverly demonstrated when the massive playing cards are hoisted to the pulse of the music.  The overall result is wonderful - music, theatre and imagery are combined to spectacular effect ”

NRC Handelsblad (L’amour des trois oranges) - Mar 2013

“ Laurent Pelly’s detailed staging elaborates the humorous aspects and leaves one always wide-eyed and surprised                                                                  ”

Het Parool (L’amour des trois oranges) - Mar 2013

“ In the Kingdom of Opera Directors, Frenchman Laurent Pelly is King. Pelly has the unique ability to re-produce an astonishing and spell bounding world through the use of modern means without distorting the original idea”

Trouw (L’amour des trois oranges) - Mar 2013

“Laurent Pelly, I thought, rose brilliantly. Like his production of Cendrillon last season, this one comes straight out of his childhood story books – the Castle of Palermo in Acts II and IV is the spitting image of the toy castle I had as a child growing up in Paris; the knights’ horses are giant plastic mouldings in primary colours, matched by the costumes and pointy hats of the ladies-in-waiting; backdrops evoke mediaeval woodcuts; chequered floor, castle, knights and crowns evoke a chessboard.   The stage effects of the fires of hell and the struggle between angel and devil for Robert’s soul are superbly imaginative, as is the simple frame used for the chapel in Act V.” (Robert le diable) - Dec 2012

“Pelly is a master at bringing abstract ideas to life… [his]  L'enfant et les sortilèges is a masterwork of emotional intelligence and sensitivity, absolutely informed by Ravel's music…. ”

Opera Today (L'Enfant et les Sortileges) - Aug 2012

“Glyndebourne's new double bill of L'heure espagnole and L'enfant et les sortilèges – Ravel's only operas – matches the composer's ethereal precision with near flawless performances and dazzling stagings”

Observer (L'Enfant et les Sortileges) - Aug 2012

“Glyndebourne has imported Laurent Pelly’s Paris production of ‘L’heure espagnole’ and got him to create a new one for ‘L’enfant’, and the result is a sparkling evening….  Ravel’s scintillating score [L’enfant et les Sortilèges]  gives visual cues with which Pelly plays like a conjuror, with the chorus first becoming lamenting figures from the Toile de Jouy wallpaper which the boy has torn, then turning into an animated forest where the groans of the tree whose bark he has cut suddenly melt his heart…. This opera lasts just 45 minutes, but I could have wished it three times as long, as Pelly’s treatment of Colette’s charmingly regretful morality tale works its delicate spell.”

The Independant (L'Enfant et les Sortileges, Glyndebourne) - Aug 2012

“Not since Peter Hall’s iconic staging of Britten’s A midsummer Night’s Dream, 31 years ago has the Glyndebourne stage been graced by anything as beautiful as the moonlit forest scene…..   the final image of the child looking back at the house to see maman comfortingly looking out of the window is a heart-stopping one…..  This is Glyndebourne operating once again at world-class level, and is by some distance the most captivating staging of this magical opera I have seen.  If there are tickets left for the remaining performance this week and next, grab them fast”

Sunday Times (L'Enfant et les Sortileges, Glyndebourne) - Aug 2012

“The magic with which Pelly brings to life first the inanimate objects in the house, then the world of nature in the garden beyond, is breathtaking”

Guardian (L'Enfant et les Sortileges, Glyndebourne) - Aug 2012

“Pelly deftly balances humour and pathos, stillness and commotion, allowing the central characters space to breath”

The Independent (Cendrillon, Royal Opera House) - Jul 2011

“The director Laurent Pelly – the man with the magic wand – understands that everything centres on the dizzying rapture of the duets between Lucette (Cendrillon) and her Prince Charming and with the Royal Opera casting at strength - Joyce Didonato (Cendrillon) and Alice Coote (Prince Charmant) - that dynamic was at the heart of the evening’s success.”

The Independent (Cendrillon, Royal Opera House) - Jul 2011

“Pelly’s production is delightful, very funny while tasteful and – last but not least – hugely entertaining. Pelly successfully doubled as director and costume designer. Indeed, I have never seen costumes fitting a directorial concept as well as in this production.” (Cendrillon, Royal Opera House) - Jul 2011

“The directorial master of French opera, Laurent Pelly[‘s] direction is perfection; his comic gimmicks never cheapened the opera but instead enhanced the grandeur French-ness of it all.”

Ceasefire (Cendrillon, Royal Opera House) - Jul 2011

“There's a festive feel to Laurent Pelly's staging, with its rich red-and-gold palette and its lavish, witty charm…. Pelly's production is at its effervescent best in busy scenes such as the ball, where a seemingly never-ending line of hopeful princesses, costumed as if by Galliano reimagining Tenniel in topiary, hope to out-charm Prince Charming – or to scare him into submission.”

The Guardian (Cendrillon, Royal Opera House) - Jul 2011

“The gifted director Laurent Pelly deployed his usual arsenal of theatrical inventions and infused this Manon with more humor than usual. This strategy paid off huge dividends when we got to the contrasting devastating emotional moments. Mr. Pelly is reliably a master of character development, resulting in every person on the stage (including choristers) being at all times engaged, committed to the moment, and buoyed by sub-text. His staging made excellent use of the various playing spaces, and it was executed to a fare-thee-well by the lively cast. I loved the men in tails, side-stepping across stage during the gavotte, like Fred Astaire’s group-courting their Ginger.”

Opera Today (Manon, Royal Opera House) - Jul 2010

“A warm welcome for Glyndebourne’s excellent revival of Laurent Pelly’s witty contemporary take on Humperdinck’s Hänsel and Gretel, meticulously restaged... An audience including a large number of small children was completely enthralled.”

The Telegraph (Hansel und Gretel, Glyndebourne) - Jul 2010

“Laurent Pelly's keenly observed and evocatively designed new production updates Massenet's rosewater romance to the elegant Belle Epoque Paris of the 1880s, a time that perfectly suits the swelling, lilting score Elsewhere, Pelly ensures vivid characterisation from his strong cast (particularly Christophe Mortagne's wittily achieved Guillot) and inimitable precision from his meticulously choreographed chorus.”

The Daily Mail (Manon, The Royal Opera) - Jun 2010

“Could it possibly be as good as it had been three years ago? The Royal Opera’s 2007 production of Donizetti’s delicious farce La Fille du régiment was one of the Pappano era’s biggest successes, and expectations ran high for this first revival, with substantially the same cast.... As good as it was? No, even better.”

The Telegraph (La Fille du Regiment, The Royal Opera House) - May 2010

“All too frequently, comic opera falls flat on its face because directors are bereft of comic ingenuity. Laurent Pelly shows them the way: he is so witty and so musically keen that his production of La Fille du régiment is awash with inventive bliss. He doesn’t need to resort to sexy sight gags or flushing toilets; he has proper ideas instead, hilarious ones, and I lost count of the number of times I laughed out loud at some fleeting moment of cleverness.”

Whats On Stage (La Fille du Regiment) - May 2010

“Opera is rarely laugh-out-loud funny; nor is it as consistently witty, as stylish, as quirkily captivating as Laurent Pelly’s staging of Donizetti’s Tyrolean romp, first seen in 2007 and now revived with pretty much its entire original cast once again firing on all cylinders.”

The Independent (La Fille du Regiment) - May 2010

“The La Monnaie production, which sees the director and costume designer Laurent Pelly making his debut in the house, attends to the easy charm of the score with a pleasingly simple production style that yet allows itself humorous flourishes; particularly impressive is the knight’s flailing windmill aerodynamics, and the crowd scenes where Dulcinée’s four suitors — moustachioed and smarmy roles, two of them trouser — contain a blizzard of energy with pointed dramatic focus. The subtle standing lean of the Don in the final act conveys so much, and is typical of the productions smarts and elegance.” (Don Quichotte, La Monnaie) - May 2010

“Director Laurent Pelly turns the ruse into an endlessly inventive romp, with his own delirious costumes, clever sets by Chantal Thomas and perfectly integrated, precise, whirlwind choreography by Laura Scozzi, which seems to echo Rameau's wonderfully expressive music almost note for note.”

Wall Street Journal (Rameau's Platée, Opéra National de Paris) - Nov 2009

“French director Laurent Pelly's staging of Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment for Covent Garden was the outstanding hit of last season, one of the freshest, sharpest productions for years. He has triumphed again with a delicious new L'elisir d'amore, set in a Lambretta-riding, Fellini-esque 1950s Italy, with industrial-sized haystack and pony-tailed girls in tea-frocks. ”

Evening Standard (L’Elisir d’amore / Royal Opera House Covent Garden) - Nov 2007

“For the second time this year, the Royal Opera has hit the jackpot with a Donizetti comedy. Back in January, it was the Italian composer’s zany French farce La Fille du régiment, with starry vocal leads in Natalie Dessay, as the tomboyish daughter of the regiment, and Juan Diego Florez, flinging out top Cs with effortless abandon. The production was the work of the Frenchman Laurent Pelly and his regular set designer, Chantal Thomas, who now, with near perfect symmetry and even greater success, return to stage Donizetti’s comic masterpiece, his charming melodramma giocoso L’elisir d’amore.   This is an evening full of such delightful surprises: feelgood opera, for sure, but blocked and choreographed with the kind of slick virtuosity that one expects in the singing of a bel canto opera, but rarely in a staging. ”

The Sunday Times (L’Elisir d’amore / Royal Opera House Covent Garden) - Nov 2007

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Laurent Pelly enjoys a career as one of France's most sought after directors of both theatre and opera, working regularly in the world’s most prestigious houses.  He is particularly renowned for his work in French repertoire, and has a skill for revealing the serious side of comedy. He underlines his interpretation of characters through skilful and inspired costume designs and in recent years has expanded into set design.  His productions are detailed, satirical, often surreal, exquisite in taste and wonderfully imaginative in both conception and execution. 

Laurent Pelly has a distinguished career in the theatre – in 2007 he was appointed Director of Théâtre National de Toulouse, having previously been Director of Cargo / Centre Dramatique National des Alpes in Grenoble (1997-2007).  Highlights in Toulouse include Victor Hugo’s Mille cents francs de récompense (also at l’Odéon in Paris and winner of the 2011 french critics “best director” award, as well as “best set design”), Hanokh Levin’s Funérailles d’hiver, Carlo Goldoni’s Le Menteur, Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, a staged recital of songs by Michel Legrand, featuring Natalie Dessay, Shakespeare’s Macbeth (also at Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers in autumn 2013)  and Victor Hugo’s Mangeront-ils? for which he designed both sets and costumes.   In spring 2014 he designed and directed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to great acclaim.

New productions in 13/14 include Don Pasquale for the Santa Fe Opera, San Francisco Opera and Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona; the direction and design of  Rossini’s Le Comte Ory for L’Opéra de Lyon and Teatro alla Scala, Milan and Bellini’s I Puritani for L’Opéra national de Paris.  Plans for 14/15 include a new production of Chabrier’s L’Etoile at de Nationale Oper, Amsterdam, plus revivals of several of his productions including La fille du regiment, Hänsel & Gretel (Teatro Real Madrid) , La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (Grand Théâtre de Genève), Giulio Cesare, La traviata (Teatro Regio Turin). 

Other recent work includes Ravel’s L'enfant et les sortilèges and L'heure espagnole for the Glyndebourne and Saito Kinen Festivals, Robert le Diable for the Royal Opera House and Grand Théâtre de Genève, Les contes d’Hoffmann for San Francisco Opera, Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona and Opéra de Lyon,  a revival of Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges in Amsterdam,  Manon at Covent Garden (also in Japan), Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala Milan and Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse and Cendrillon (originally created in Santa Fe) for the Royal Opera House, Teatro del Liceu Barcelona, La Monnaie Brussels and Opéra de Lillle.  Other creations include Handel’s Guilio Cesare for L’Opéra national de Paris, Kurt Weil’s Threepenny Opera for la Comédie-Française, Massenet’s Don Quichotte at La Monnaie, Mahagonny for Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne for Opéra de Lyon and Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, Hänsel & Gretel  for Glyndebourne Festival (also revived in Lyon) and Verdi’s La traviata at Santa Fe and Teatro Regio di Torino – this latter reworked and revived to critical acclaim in Santa Fe in 2013. 

His celebrated production of Donizetti’s La fille du régiment (Royal Opera House, Vienna State Opera, Metropolitan Opera) receives world-wide acclaim, and enjoys constant revival, whilst other productions include Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (Saito Kinen Festival and Maggio Musicale Florence), Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Mozart’s La finta semplice (Theater an der Wien), L’elisir d’amore (Opéra national de Paris,  Royal Opera House,Teatro alla Scala Milan, Mariinsky Theatre St Petersburg), Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, Weill’s Les Sept péchés Capitaux (Opéra national de Paris), Poulenc’s La Voix humaine and Bartók's Duke Bluebeard's Castle (Opéra national de Lyon), Rameau’s Platée (Opéra national de Paris, Santa Fe), Chabrier’s Le roi malgré lui (Opéra de Lyon and L’Opéra Comique), Offenbach’s La Grande Duchesse (Théâtre du Châtelet) and La Belle Hélène (Théâtre du Châtelet, Santa Fe, English National Opera). 

August 2014