Obituary: French Opera Director and Manager Nicolas Joel Dies, Aged 67

By Logan Martell

The Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse has announced that former General Manager Nicolas Joel has passed away on June 18, 2020; the cause of death is not known.

Born in Paris, France, in 1953, Joel started his career in the performing arts at the age of 20, when he became assistant director at the Opéra du Rhin, where he spent the next five years. After serving as an assistant for the centenary production of the Ring Cycle at the Bayreuth Festival, Joel went on to direct with companies such as Opéra de Lyon, Opéra du Rhin, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Teatro alla Scala, Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House, and the Metropolitan Opera, among others.

In 1990, Joel became General Manager of the Capitole de Toulouse, a position he held until 2009, when he became director of the Paris Opera. Joel stayed with the Paris Opera until he stepped down in 2013, citing the company’s budget planning.

For his achievements Joel was made a chevalier of France’s Legion of Honor in 2004, and an officer in 2014. On his passing, current Capitole de Toulouse director Christophe Ghristi said, He was a character to whom I was deeply attached. I had known him for 25 years, and we worked daily for 20 years. In recent years, he continued to come very regularly to the Capitol and was there at each premiere. He was a great director; he had a love and a great knowledge of the repertoire. He knew the voices, the technique, the set, etc. He taught me a lot. He was not a theorist, he showed, he had a concern for the craftsmanship of the theater.”

Here is one of Joel’s iconic productions: