Obituary: French Director Humbert Camerlo dies at 76

By Dejan Vukosavljevic
(Credit: YouTube)

Famed French director Humbert Camerlo has died after a long illness, aged 76.

Camerlo worked in the various fields of the art, that were closely linked to the live theater, architecture and even different forms of image technologies.

He studied economics for two years at the University of Lyon, but then his great passion for the world of art and opera took over, and Camerlo completely devoted himself to the theater. He had extensive training in all kinds of backstage technologies, lighting, stage sets, and finally directing.

After he had successfully completed his first production of Béla Bartók’s “Bluebeard Castle” at the Opera de Lyon in 1964, he left for the United States. There he also participated in general rehearsals at the Metropolitan Opera during the time of Sir Rudolf Bing. Upon his return to Europe, he worked as an assistant at the Bayreuth Festival in 1965 in a production of the Ring staged by Wieland Wagner, with Birgit Nilsson and Wolfgang Windgassen, under the baton of Karl Böhm.

He continued his career as a director working on contemporary opera, where he was involved in the first French productions of works by Arnold Schönberg such as “Erwartung” and “Die glückliche Hand.”

He was a resident director at the Opéra de Paris for five years, and then worked at the Opéra Bastille and Palais Garnier under Hugues Gall until 2004. As a General Administrator, he took over the restructuring of Opéra du Nord in 1980, and at the same time served as the General Director of Opéra de Lille.

His successful productions included Stravinsky’s “The Rake Progress”, Wagner’s “Tannhäuser“ and Bizet’s “Carmen” at Opéra de Nantes in 1969; Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” at Opéra du Rhin in 1975; the double bill of Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” and Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” at Opéra du Rhin in 1976; Donizzeti’s “L’elisir d’amore” at Opéra de Montreal in 1981; and Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra” at Grand Théâtre de Genève in 1991, among others.