Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Pierre Audi studied at Oxford University before founding, in 1979, the Almeida Theatre in London and its Contemporary Music Festival, which he directed until 1989. He was appointed Director of Dutch National Opera (DNO) in 1988, leading the Company for 30 years until August 2018. The DNO was named Opera Company of the Year in 2016. In addition to his responsibilities at the DNO, he served for ten years — from 2004 to 2014 — as Artistic Director of the Holland Festival. Since September 2018, he has been the General Director of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, a responsibility which he carries with that of Artistic Director of the Park Avenue Armory in New York.
As a stage director, he has collaborated on opera productions with numerous visual artists, including Karel Appel, Georg Baselitz, Anish Kapoor, Herzog & de Meuron, Jannis Kounellis, Berlinde De Bruyckere and Jonathan Meese.
Many of his productions, which were presented in Amsterdam, have won acclaim on other stages, notably his cycle of Monteverdi’s four operas. He staged the first Dutch production of Wagner’s Ring cycle, as well as many other operas throughout the entire repertoire, including a number of works by Landi, Rameau, Händel, Gluck, Mozart, Rossini, Berlioz, Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Schönberg and Messiaen.
Since the beginning of his career in London, he has directed nearly 40 world premieres, establishing a wide repertoire of contemporary music theatre works and operas of by composers as varied as Theo Loevendie, Guus Janssen, Jonathan Harvey, Hans Werner Henze, Tan Dun, Param Vir, Kaija Saariaho, Alexander Knaifel, Pascal Dusapin, Louis Andriessen, Gyuri Kurtag and Wolfgang Rihm.
As guest director he has worked for the Bavarian State Opera, the Court Theatre of Drottningholm, the Salzburg Festival, the Ruhrtriennale, the Opéra national de Paris, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Theater an der Wien and Vienna State Opera, La Monnaie in Brussels, the English National Opera, the Teatro Dell’Opera Di Roma, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Los Angeles Opera, among many others.
In October 2016, his staging of Guillaume Tell was performed at the MET in New York. And in 2018, he made his debut at La Scala in Milan with the world premiere of Kurtág’s Fin de Partie. Recent productions also include the world premiere of Schönberg’s Gurre-Lieder and Aus Licht in Amsterdam, a ten-hour staging major sequences of Licht, a cycle of seven operas composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Bach’s Johannes-Passion in Brussels, a new staging Tristan und Isolde at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, in Rome and Amsterdam, as well as a new production of Parsifal in Munich.
Pierre Audi has received numerous awards, including the Leslie Boosey Award for his contribution to British Musical Life, the Gold Medal of Honour of Drottningholm in Sweden, the Dutch Critics’ Prize, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Theatre Prize and the Amsterdam Cultural Business Award. He was knighted in the Order of the Dutch Lion in 2000 and was made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur a few years later. In 2009, he became the first recipient of the Johannes Vermeer Award. For his work at the Holland Festival, he received the Silver Medal of the city of Amsterdam. He has been appointed Honorary Fellow Music Theatre at the University of Amsterdam.
To mark his departure from the Dutch National Opera, he was awarded the Gold Medal of Honour for Arts and Sciences from the House of Orange Nassau by King Willem Alexander for his contribution to Dutch cultural life and for his work as a stage director.