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Stage director Nikolaus Lehnhoff dies at seventy-six.

Obituaries Lehnhoff hdl 1115
Director Lehnhoff, 2015
© Antonio Calanni/AP/Corbis
Obituaries Yule lg 1115
Yule as Mozart’s Bartolo at NYCO, 1968
© Beth Bergman


FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS, the director created imaginative, highly musical opera stagings in theaters throughout Europe and North America. Neither a strict traditionalist nor a proponent of Regietheater, Lehnhoff created highly individual, thought-provoking productions notable for their intellectual elegance and artistic economy.  

In his twenties, Lehnhoff worked at Deutsche Oper Berlin and at Bayreuth, where he was assistant to Wieland Wagner. He was then engaged as a member of the staging department at the Metropolitan Opera, where he was responsible for the 1967 revival of Le Nozze di Figaro. Lehnhoff also directed revivals of Simon Boccanegra, La Bohème, Der Fliegende Holländer and Ariadne auf Naxos during the next two Met seasons. Lehnhoff made his official directing debut in 1972, with Die Frau ohne Schatten in Paris. He was a regular guest at Glyndebourne, where three historic Janáček stagings conducted by Andrew Davis — Kát’a Kabanová (1988), Jenůfa (1989) and The Makropulos Case (1995) — were among his successes, as was Tristan und Isolde (2003), the company’s first staging of a Wagner opera. Lehnhoff also worked with distinction at the Berlin Staatsoper, Covent Garden, ENO, La Scala, Baden-Baden and Salzburg, among other theaters in Europe.

Lehnhoff returned to the Metropolitan Opera in 1989 to stage Salome, with Eva Marton in the title role. His other notable U.S. productions included Salome (1982) and the Ring (1985) at San Francisco Opera and Der Fliegende Holländer at Santa Fe Opera (1988), Lyric Opera of Chicago (2001), San Francisco (2004) and Los Angeles Opera (2013). San Francisco (2000) and Chicago (2001) also shared Lehnhoff’s memorable Parsifal, first seen at ENO in 1999. Lehnhoff’s eloquent Covent Garden production of Hans Pfitzner’s Palestrina was presented at the Met as part of the 1997 Lincoln Center Festival, and his Glyndebourne staging of The Makropulos Case, with the incandescent Anja Silja as Emilia Marty, was a success at BAM in 2001. Lehnhoff's last production was Turandot at La Scala in spring 2015, with Nina Stemme in the title role.

PALATKA, FL, SEPTEMBER 15, 1953 — AUGUST 26, 2015  

THE MEZZO STUDIED at Bethune-Cookman University and Manhattan School of Music before making her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1985, as Lily in Porgy and Bess. Her other Met roles included Madelon in Andrea Chénier, Serena in Porgy and Bess and the Priestess in Aida. Johnson was also much admired at Glyndebourne, where she was a superb Strawberry Woman in Trevor Nunn’s production of Porgy, conducted by Simon Rattle. An excellent recitalist and concert artist, Johnson performed at the White House for President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama.

BELOIT, WI, May 9, 1959 — URBANA, IL, July 19, 2015  

BORN AND EDUCATED in Wisconsin, Roth moved to Minnesota, where he worked for Minnesota Opera. He joined Fort Worth Opera in 2000, working there as director of production and director of finance. In 2006, Roth was named general director of Kentucky Opera in Louisville. During his years there, Roth helped the company merge some positions with the Louisville Orchestra and sell its previous headquarters to move to the ArtsSpace building on Broadway in Louisville.Roth established Kentucky Opera’s Composer Workshop Series, which gave contemporary composers a chance to develop their works in Louisville. Roth also worked as a stage director; at the time of his death, he was scheduled to direct the Kentucky Opera premiere of Heggie’s Three Decembers in November. Roth died of a heart attack while driving on Interstate 74 in central Illinois.

ENID, OK, JANUARY 28, 1935 — BROOKLYN, NY, JULY 3, 2015  

THE BASS RECEIVED his bachelor’s degree in music performance from Indiana University before joining New York City Opera in 1960. Yule’s company debut as a principal was as Gluttony in a revival of Hugo Weisgall’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, beginning a fifty-year career with NYCO that included more than 1,700 performances of eighty-three roles in New York and on tour. Most of Yule’s NYCO performances were vividly delivered character sketches in comprimario parts such as Antonio and Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata, Benoit and Alcindoro in La Bohème and the Jailer and the Sacristan in Tosca

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