Gilbert Blin, Opera Director of the Boston Early Music Festival, obtained a doctorate at Leiden University in 2018. He also studied Theater History and Stage Direction at the Sorbonne in Paris. Upon graduating in 1986, he concentrated on Rameau’s operas and their relation to the stage. This interest has since broadened to encompass French opera and its relationship to Baroque theater, his fields of expertise as historian, stage director, and designer of sets and costumes. His opera productions have been described by the American press as “revelatory,” “delightful,” “lavish,” “gorgeous,” “stunning,” and “extraordinarily moving.”
Stage Director for French Repertoire
For his début in 1991, Gilbert Blin directed Massenet’s Werther for the Opéra de Nancy. For Opéra-Comique in Paris, he presented a new version of Werther in 1994 with Laurent Petitgirard conducting. In 1995 Gilbert Blin directed Delibes’s Lakmé for the same house, a production frequently revived in France until 2000. In 1996, he was dramaturge for Bizet’s Carmen, directed by David Radok, at the Royal Opera of Copenhagen. In 1999, Gilbert Blin was the first French stage director invited by the Prague State Opera: his popular production of Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable, with musical direction by Vincent Monteil, has been performed for many seasons.
Throughout his career Gilbert Blin has worked extensively with the operas of Gluck. He was French adviser for Arnold Östman’s productions of Iphigénie en Tauride (Drottningholm, 1990) and Alceste (Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 1993). As stage director for the Drottningholm Theatre, he presented Orfeo ed Euridice in 1992. This first modern production of the 1769 “Parma Version,” conducted by Arnold Östman, was filmed, recorded, and revived in 1998, as part of the Gluck Festival presented for Stockholm’s year as the EU’s “European City of Culture.” In 2016, Gilbert Blin created a new production of Gluck’s 1774 Orphée et Eurydice for the University of Washington in Seattle.
Art Director of 18th Century Italian Operas
His staged realizations of operas of the 18th century include a newly designed and directed 2001 production of Vivaldi’s Orlando furioso for the State Opera of Prague, and a 2003 staged reconstruction of Vivaldi’s Rosmira fedele for the Opéra de Nice. Returning to the latter house in 2007, Gilbert Blin designed the staging, sets, costumes, and lights of his acclaimed production of Handel’s Teseo, and in 2012, he directed and designed a production of Alessandro Scarlatti’s Il Tigrane, conducted by Gilbert Bezzina. For the Ensemble Baroque de Nice, he also reconstructed a Roman performance of Scarlatti’s oratorio La Giuditta in 2009. Since 2006, Gilbert Blin has been working on reconstructing the original sets and costumes of Mozart operas. With Czech stage director Lubor Cukr, he presented Don Giovanni at the Prague Estates Theatre in 2006 and 2016, and Le nozze di Figaro at Opéra de Nice in 2008. In 2015, Gilbert Blin offered a pasticcio uniting Pergolesi’s two comic masterpieces, La serva padrona and Livietta e Tracollo. This production was revived for the 2017 Boston Early Music Festival.
Opera Director of Boston Early Music Festival
Gilbert Blin made his American début with the Boston Early Music Festival in 2001 by directing a fully staged production of Lully’s Thésée for the Tanglewood Festival. Returning to BEMF in 2007, he directed Lully’s Psyché with musical directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston. He became Boston Early Music Festival’s Stage Director in Residence in 2008, and directed and designed the sets for Steffani’s Niobe, Regina di Tebe, the 2011 Festival opera. For the 2013 Boston Early Music Festival, Mr. Blin presented Handel’s Almira to great acclaim.
To inaugurate the BEMF Chamber Opera Series in 2008, Gilbert Blin staged Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Charpentier’s Actéon. His production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was created in 2010. For the same series, Handel’s Acis and Galatea was first presented in Boston in 2009, and toured the U.S. and Canada. In 2011 Gilbert Blin returned to the French repertoire and created a production pairing Charpentier’s La Couronne de Fleurs and La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers. Consequently, he also served as drama coach for the Grammy-winning recording of these Charpentier’s masterpieces by Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs. The staging toured North America in 2014. Following his acclaimed production of L’incoronazione di Poppea for the 2009 Boston Festival, Mr. Blin staged Monteverdi’s Orfeo for the Chamber Opera Series in 2012 and the composer’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria in 2015. The “Monteverdi Trilogy” was presented for the 2015 Festival. Recent productions for Boston Early Music Festival include Charpentier’s Les Plaisirs de Versailles, together with Lalande Les Fontaines de Versailles, for the Chamber Opera Series 2016, Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise for the festival 2017 and Francesca Caccini’s Alcina in 2018.
Doctorate at Leiden University
Gilbert Blin prepared his Ph.D. with the Academy for Creative and Performing Arts under the supervision of professor Ton Koopman and professor emeritus Frans de Ruiter. The title of the dissertation is “The Reflections of Memory, an account of a cognitive approach to Historically Informed staging.”
Due to his extensive work in both the theory and practice of this field, Mr. Blin has been invited to give lectures at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, the Université de Paris-Sorbonne, and The Juilliard School of Music, New York.