Gilbert Blin, Opera Director of the Boston Early Music Festival, obtained his doctorate from Leiden University in 2018. He also studied Theater History and Stage Direction at the Sorbonne in Paris. Since graduating in 1986, he has focused on Rameau’s operas and their relation to the stage. Throughout his career, Gilbert Blin has expanded his expertise to encompass French opera and its relationship to Baroque theater. He is renowned as a historian, stage director, and designer of sets and costumes.
In 1991, Gilbert Blin made his debut by directing Massenet’s Werther for the Opéra de Nancy. He presented a new version of Werther in 1994 at Opéra-Comique in Paris with Laurent Petitgirard conducting. He also directed Delibes’s Lakmé for the same house in 1995, a production that was frequently revived in France until 2000. In 1996, he served as dramaturge for Bizet’s Carmen, directed by David Radok, at the Royal Opera of Copenhagen. In 1999, Gilbert Blin became the first French stage director to be invited by the Prague State Opera, where his popular production of Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable, with musical direction by Vincent Monteil, has been performed for many seasons.
Gilbert Blin has worked extensively with the operas of Gluck throughout his career. He served as the 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. In 2023 Gilbert Blin returned to Sweden and presented Rameau’s Dardanus for the Confidencen Opera & Music Festival.
Gilbert Blin’s 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.
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 and was appointed Opera Director of the Boston Early Music Festival.
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, Francesca Caccini’s Alcina in 2018, Steffani’s Orlando generoso in 2019, and Telemann’s Pimpinone in 2021.
In 2022, with musical directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Gilbert Blin presented Lully’s Idylle sur la Paix & Charpentier’s La Fête de Rueil for Boston, Miami, and New York. In 2023 Desmarest’s Circé.
In April 2023 Gilbert Blin presented Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda for the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava.
Gilbert Blin prepared his Phd 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, Gilbert 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.