Calixto Bieito, Direction
Calixto Bieito, born in Miranda de Ebro (Spain), is living in Basle. He studied Spanish literature and art history at Barcelona’s University, stage direction at the Theatre Institute of the Disputació Barcelona and Performance at the Escuela de Arte Dramático in Tarragona.
His artistic profile is rooted in his early work. He directed the Teatre Romea in Barcelona for ten years, organised the Festival Internacional de las Artes de Castilla y León in Salamanca and created the Barcelona Internacional Teatre (bit), a worldwide forum for projects of artists and theatres. Schönberg’s Pierrot lunaire was his first work for the musical theatre, succeeded by the zarzuela La verbena de la Paloma at the Teatro Tivoli and Carmen at the Festival in Peralada.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Salzburg 2001, Hamlet in Edinburgh 2002 and several stagings in Hanover were followed by a highly controversial production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Berlin’s Komische Oper in 2004. These productions established his fame and notoriety as one of Europe’s foremost directors rapidly, hailed and hated with zeal and ardor.
In drama as much as in opera it is a spirit of uncompromising contemporaneity that marks Calixto Bieito’s theatrical approach. Visions of high tension and energy lead to the center of drama and conflicts directly. Berlin’s Entführung was kept in the repertoire until 2018, but his years of Sturm und Drang were long gone by then. His artistic interests were always as manifold as their realization. Contemporary authors move more and more into the center of his work. Jonathan Little and Karl Ove Knausgård were in the focus of creations in Bergen and Antwerp recently.
Calixto Bieito has directed many works of the operatic canon, from L’incoronazione di Poppea (Zurich) and The Fairy Queen (Stuttgart) to Carmen and The Force of Destiny (at London’s ENO), but it’s the milestones of the twentieth century, Schoenberg’s Moses and Aron (Dresden) and Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten (Zurich/Berlin/Madrid) that lead us to contemporary masters, Aribert Reimann’s Lear (Paris/Florence) or Héctor Parra’s Les Bienveillantes (Antwerp).
Guiding us far beyond the operatic masterpieces, Calixto Bieito has staged several works of religious music over the last years, a remarkable statement, with more to come: Britten’s War Requiem (Basle/Hamburg/Oslo), Verdi’s Messa da Requiem (Hamburg), Gesualdo’s Madrigals (Hamburg), J.S.Bach’s St. John’s Passion (Bilbao), Monteverdi’s Vespro delle Beata Vergine (Mannheim) and Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s Elias (Vienna).
Calixto Bieito was honored by the Kulturstiftung Pro Europa in Basle with the European Culture Award in 2009. He received prizes in Dublin, Edinburgh, Munich, London and Bilbao, Italy’s Premio Franco Abbiati and won many Spanish awards, amongst them the Premio Ciudad de Barcelona, Premios Líricos Campoamor, Premios Opera XXI and Premios Ópera Actual.
Calixto Bieito has been the artistic director of Bilbao’s Teatro Arriaga since 2017. His rediscovery of two Basque composers highlighted the first seasons. He directed Arriaga’s Los esclavos felices and Usandizaga’s Mendi-Mendyan.
Calixto Bieito and his team are presently staging Wagner’s tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Opéra de Paris. The complete cycle is to be premiered in November 2020.