Tributes paid to opera and theatre director Lee Blakeley

Picture: Roy Tan

The international theatre community has been paying tribute to British opera and theatre director Lee Blakeley who died suddenly at the weekend.

Known for his work on successful Stephen Sondheim productions at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, Blakeley directed the French premiere of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park With George and an acclaimed production of A Little Night Music that starred Leslie Caron, Greta Scacchi and Lambert Wilson.

A graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the London-based director also worked on major productions at the Santa Fe Opera Festival and had been an associate director at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, The Royal Opera and English National Opera.

Blakeley’s directing credits included Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and The King and I at the Chatelet; The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, Madam Butterfly and The Pearl Fishers at the Santa Fe Opera Festival; Orfeo ed Euridice (Minnesota Opera); Les Contes D’Hoffmann (Canadian Opera Company); and Die Fledermaus, and A Night at the Chinese Opera (Scottish Opera).

After receiving a Winston Churchill Traveling Fellowship in 2007, he travelled to many of the major opera houses in North America to study Lyric Artist Development and the Cultivation of Philanthropy for Opera.

A statement posted online by Lee Blakeley’s husband, Jonathan Foster, read: “Devastated beyond words to have lost the biggest light and inspiration in my life. For those that don’t know, my darling husband, Lee, died suddenly in the early hours of Saturday morning.”

Tributes on Twitter included:

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland: ‘Incredibly saddened to hear of the death of alumnus & director Lee Blakeley. We’ll miss him tremendously. Our thoughts are with his family.’
The Royal Opera: ‘Lee Blakeley brought intelligence, fun and flair to the rehearsal room and he will be very much missed.’
Choreographer Nick Winston: ‘My heart is heavy. Lee Blakeley, friend, collaborator, gone too soon, but never forgotten.’
Theatre du Chatelet: ‘Lee Blakeley est mort. Toutes nos pensées vont à sa famille. Lee Blakeley has passed away. All our thoughts are with his family.’

Angela Thomas

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