Francesca Zambello is an internationally recognized director of opera and theater, as well as General Director of the Glimmerglass Festival since 2010 and Artistic Director of Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center since 2012. She has also served as the Artistic Advisor to the San Francisco Opera from 2005-2011 and as the Artistic Director of the Skylight Theater from 1987-1992. In her current roles at the Kennedy Center and Glimmerglass Festival, she is responsible for producing twelve productions annually. She has initiated major commissioning programs for new works in both companies that have resulted in productions of many large and small-scaled productions. Both organizations have thrived financially and increased their national and international profiles as a result of her artistic vision and leadership.
Her U.S. directing debut took place at the Houston Grand Opera with a production of Fidelio. She debuted in Europe at Teatro la Fenice in Venice with Beatrice di Tenda and has since staged new productions at major theaters and opera houses in Europe and the USA. She has worked at over 50 major opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Paris Opera, the Bolshoi, Munich State Opera, Covent Garden and Opera Australia. Her work has also been seen at many of the world’s major festivals. Collaborating with outstanding artists and designers and promoting emerging talent, she takes a special interest in new music theater works, innovative productions, and in producing theater and opera for wider audiences.
Francesca Zambello has been 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 and two Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical and Best Opera. She has also received the award for Best Company Achievement. She was awarded twice the French Grand Prix des Critiques for her work at the Paris Opera. She has received the Medallion Society Award from the San Francisco Opera recognizing 30 years of work for the company. Other awards include Best Production in Japan, the Palme d’Or in Germany, the Golden Mask in Russia and the Helpmann Award in Australia.
Ms. Zambello’s recent opera projects have included The Ring and Aida for San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera, Norma at Teatro Muncipal de Santiago (Chile), and Porgy and Bess and Show Boat for commercial DVD release. Ms. Zambello returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago for Luisa Miller in the 2019-20 season. Musical and theater projects have included West Side Story at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Opera Australia at Sydney Harbor, Voigt Lessons with Terrance McNally and Deborah Voight, Rebecca for Vienna’s Raimund Theater, Stuttgart’s Palladium Theater (presented by Stage Entertainment), and in St. Gallen, Switzerland, The Little Prince with Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman, Napoleon in the West End, The Little Mermaid for Disney on Broadway, the musical The Little House on the Prairie for national tour, The Master Butchers at The Guthrie Theater, and Aladdin in Disneyland. Film works have included Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors for BBC Television, a new film for the BBC, Sony and PBS of The Little Prince; and West Side Story for the floating stage in Bregenz.
An American who grew up in Europe, Ms. Zambello speaks French, Italian, German, and Russian. She attended Moscow University in 1976 and graduated cum laude from Colgate University in 1978. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Yale University. Zambello began her career as an Assistant Director to the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. Francesca Zambello lives in New York with her wife, Faith Gay, a founding partner at Selendy and Gay, and step-son, Jackson.