Born in Toronto, Canada, Robert Carsen trained as an actor first at the York University, Toronto, then in Britain at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before turning to directing. His successful career has brought him to the most prestigious international stages.
His first major success was Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Aix-en-Provence in 1991, later brought to other theatres. One of those was Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, which had the production released on DVD. The director returned to Aix-en-Provence again with Die Zauberflöte,Handel’s Orlando and Semele. He worked for Opéra de Lyon (Salome), Opéra de Bordeaux (Le Nozze di Figaro, which had been later transferred to the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Tel-Aviv, Barcelona and Genoa), Paris Opera where he had staged 10 productions: Manon Lescaut, Nabucco, I Capuleti ed i Montecchi, Lohengrin, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Alcina, Dvořák’s Rusalka, Rameau’s Les Boréades, Capriccio, Tannhäuser.
Robert Carsen was a frequent guest at the Flemish Opera, Belgium, where he had staged seven Puccini’s operas, Janáček’s Jenůfa, Katya Kabanova and The Cunning Little Vixen; he also directed the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s Richard III. Among other opera houses he worked at are Opéra national du Rhin, Strasbourg (Janáček’s The Makropoulos Affair), De Nederlandse Opera (Poulenc’s Dialogues des carmélites, Fidelio, Carmen), Oper Köln (Der Ring des Nibelungen, Macbeth, Otello, Falstaff), Vienna State Opera (Verdi’s Jérusalem, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Manon Lescaut), Metropolitan Opera (Boito’s Mefistofele, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin), Lyric Opera of Chicago (Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and Iphigénie en Tauride), Teatro alla Scala (Dialogues des carmélites, Katya Kabanova, Bernstein’s Candide, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alcina), Bavarian State Opera in Munich (Ariadne auf Naxos, Lucia di Lammermoor), etc. He also worked at the numerous opera festivals, including Salzburg Festival (Der Rosenkavalier), Bregenz Festival (Il Trovatore), Glyndebourne Festival (L’incoronazione di Poppea, Rinaldo), Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Fidelio). He has directed the productions of R. Strauss’ Elektra in Tokyo, musical director Seiji Ozawa (the production was revived at Florence in 2008 and in Paris in 2013), and La Traviata at the re-opening of Teatro La Fenice, Venice, in 2004.
His works for drama theatre include Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children for Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan for Bristol Old Vic Theatre and Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in New York. For Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, Carsen has directed Ute Lemper’s show Nomade, Bernstein’s Candide and F. Loewe’s musical My Fair Lady. For Andrew Lloyd Webber, the director has stagedBeautiful Game (Cambridge Theatre, London) and Sunset Boulevard (tour around Great Britain).
Robert Carsen has also showed interest in designing art exhibitions, among them Marie-Antoinette at the Grand Palais and Charles Garnier at L’École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. At the Theater an der Wien, Vienna, he has produced Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, where for the first time he was also the set and costume designer.
Robert Carsen is the Knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters, as well as of the Order of Canada, and the winner of numerous theatre awards.