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Giving Direction

Opera and theater director Francesca Zambello discusses her life and work

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Francesca Zambello,an acclaimed director of opera and theater, speaks about her life, hercareer, and why she loves directing. Her talk marks the opening of anexhibition of the papers and memorabilia she has donated to the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center.Zambello’s parents were theater actors, so it seemed natural that atage four she started directing puppet shows. She describes her firstactual job in the theater as being a gopher, then she became a stagemanager, and finally, she took the leap to directing, at a smalltheater company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I wanted to make theater thatspoke from my heart and that would reach people as best as I could,”she says. One of her goals as a “storyteller,” as she describes herwork, is to make theater accessible to everyone. Among other projects,Zambello works with Disney developing new family-friendly productions,such as The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Shediscusses the differences between directing a nonprofit opera versus afor-profit musical and what it means to be a director and answersquestions from the audience about upcoming projects, working with“major voices,” and the need for a liberal arts education.

February 4, 2008, 6 p.m.
Metcalf Hall

About the speaker:
FrancescaZambello has directed opera and theater in Europe, the United States,Asia, and South America and is known for innovative productions. Shehas received the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres award from theFrench government and the Medal for Service to Culture award from theRussian Federation, in addition to numerous other international awards.She makes her Broadway debut this year with Disney’s The Little Mermaid and is developing several new musicals, including one based on The Little House on the Prairie and another on The First Wives Club. She has directed the world premiere of the opera An American Tragedy and Cyrano de Bergerac for the Metropolitan Opera. Other works she has directed include Porgy and Bess and Die Walküre for the Washington Opera; La Bohème at the Royal Albert Hall; Fiery Angel for the Bolshoi; Salome for Chicago Lyric Opera; Carmen and Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House; and Boris Godunov, War and Peace, and William Tell at the Paris Opera. She also is working on an operatic production of The Ring for the Washington Opera and the San Francisco Opera.

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