Gaetano Donizetti

Leonardo da Vinci attr. Lady with Hermelin; Kraków copy


For the Liceu in Barcelona and the Maggio Musicale in Firenze I will restage Donizetti’s opera in a production originally directed by Ariel García Valdés in 2002. The new show -eliminating  all previous cuts- will now present the whole opera (apart from the ballet in the II act) in a rare, unabridged version.

The story, set in medieval Spain, is nothing more then a story of three people, isolated in themselves and experiencing a lack of reason for their existence and dissatisfaction with their current state. It is the story of a clergyman who feels the need to seek for fame in war, a king who would prefer not to rule, a woman who is torn between benefiting from being the mistress of a king and  searching for an independent life she can choose for herself.

This is Donizetti’s first opera written as grand opéra for the Académie Royal de la Musique. Approaching a French style without loosing any of his Italianate qualities, Donizetti shows great skill in writing effective choruses scenes and very delicately subtle orchestration whilst still maintaining the simplicity of his beautiful melodic lines. Conductors will be Fabio Luisi (Florence) and Patrick Summers (Barcelona), the  set and costumes are by Jean-Pierre Vergier. The opera will be performed in its original French langauage.



La favorite | Teatro del Maggio     22,25, 28, February and 3 March

La favorite | Liceu  Barcelona       8, 10,11,13,14,16,17,19,20,21,22 and 24 July



Leoš Janáček

DE Vriees copy

At the Grange Festival, a summer festival, located beautifully in the grounds of a stately home in Hampshire near London, I will be directing Leoš Janáček’s Katja Kabanova in the near future.

This is one of the first operas I ever saw and it definitely had a huge impact on my passion for music theatre. Unlike any other composer apart from Mozart, I feel in Janacek’s music a strong desire to find a language to express his deeply felt, unconditional humanity.

Katja, similar to many other characters in Janáček’s operas, fenced in by the boundaries set by a environment whose dead heartedness is founded upon ignorance and fear, desires nothing else than to express her sensitive and loving spirit freely. As long as the conditions produced by the society around her prevail, people like Katja will go under.





In Germany’s national history museum, the DHM I will be giving a talk introducing the screening of Beethovens Fidelio in a version arranged by Walter Felsenstein  in collaboration with Hanns Eisler from the year 1956.  This will be the conclusion of a series of opera films in the Zeughauskino which screens films and cinematographic approaches to music-theatre including the 1915 C.B.DeMilles version of Carmen and the 2007 portrait of the Staatsoper’s Generalmusikdirektor Otmar Suitner.  This series of films was scheduled to coincide with the re-opening of the Staatsoper, now postponed. Fidelio will be shown on the 30th September at 20:30.

 The full program can be found here.



Giuseppe Verdi


“A very convincing and precise performance, … , and the great effort of the ensemble and the soloist was by no means in vain. Don Carlo is a great feat of the HNK Opera that attracted several foreign curious curious artists and professionals in Zagreb.”                                                    Jutarni list




Together with the conductor Elio Boncompagni, Italo Grassi set designer and Stefan Dietrich  costume designer I am currently working on a production of Don Carlo for the National Theatre in Zagreb.  This production is based on the original 5 act version written for the Paris Opéra  (1867) and includes the ballet as well as all the pieces Verdi was forced to cut before the opening night, making it the longest opera Verdi ever wrote.  The show will open on April the 10th with further shows on the 12th,15th,18th, and 22nd of April  with two alternating casts. The italian conductor Elio Boncompagni has rightly earned his reputation as a Don Carlo expert.  It was he who conducted the world premiere in 1976 in Brussels incorporating the lost material which had recently been discovered only years before in the archives of the Paris Opéra.

Here is a link to a documentation of the production by the Croatian National Television . 

Due to the  ongoing interest the show will be revived in the summer of 2018.

You can read my programme notes in English or German here.



Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Richard Wagner

As revival director and choreographer I am taking care of Richard Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” in Harry Kupfer’s production at the Teatro alla Scala  in Milan. Amongst topics this opera deals with is the belief, that art is not merely a privat business but has its foundation in society through which it receives its entitlement. This is the first time in thirty years that the longest of all Wagner operas returns to this exceptional stage in a beautifully detailed production with an extraodinary talented cast.  For me it is the sixth time I am returning to work on a production to La Scala.  The show will open on March 16th with 8 further performances into the middle of the following month.

Meistersinger Scala Chorus

Fidelio / Lady Macbeth von Mzensk


Together with Harry Kupfer I have the pleasure of working on two shows this season: Beethovens “Fidelio” at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin with Daniel Barenboïm and Shostakovich’s brilliant masterpiece “Lady Macbeth of Mzensk” at the Bayrische Staatsoper with Kirill Petrenko.  Both operas explore the boundaries of music theatre in their own unique ways.  Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth from Mzensk” needs the tragic-comical elements in the music at times to break the harsh realistic brutaliy of the plot; Beethoven consciously moves through a variety of styles both musically and dramatically  in order to reveal love as a universal, all-encompassing force for peace and freedom at the heart of the opera.  I would also like to draw your attention to two articles I have written for the programme books for the respective houses.  Here is a link to an article about the dramaturgical implications of the music in Fidelo and if you want to find out more about the way the legendary Harry Kupfer works, you might be interested in a  short rehearsal log  (both in German).

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about me


“A strikingly profound and vivid production” Neues Deutschland – “This scenically extremely entertaining production was received with tumultuous and unanimous applause” NMZ Online“What a magnificent evening!” – Berliner Zeitung“impressive staging” Opernnetz “a complete triumph!” Deutschlandfunk“…the prolific fantasy and abundance of grotesquely inventive details.” Der Tagesspiegel
“Whoever finds concentrated listening a strain could feel relieved here, without betraying the music.“ Berliner Zeitung„Ninety minutes of music, full of variety and contrast.“ Der Tagesspiegel„Outstanding“ Opernnetz„…old and new music magnificently mixed…..exquisite performances.“Berliner Morgenpost“Derek Gimpel succeded in creating many intense moments and strong images.” Orpheus„Everything that can be done to show the plausibility of “La Clemenza di Tito” and its believability as a play about human emotions, has been achieved here.“ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung –„Believable and riveting“ Sächsische Zeitung

A short biography

Derek Gimpel was born in Berlin where he studied history of art and history of music and began work as an opera director at the Staatsoper unter den Linden. As a freelance director he maintained his close relationship with the Staatsoper and amongst numerous other productions was working alongside Harry Kupfer and Daniel Barenboim on Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Parsifal, Tannhäuser, Die Meistersinger and Tristan and Isolde. Derek’s recent production of Harrison Birtwistle’s opera Punch and Judy at the Staatsoper am Schiller Theater was received to universal acclaim.

His repertoire as director/revival director to date encompasses over 70 operas and his work taken him to opera houses around the world including the Teatro Real Madrid, Palais Garnier and Champs Elysees Paris, New National Theatre Tokyo, Finnish National Opera Helsinki, Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, National Opera Warsaw, La Scala Milan, Israeli Opera Tel Aviv, Zurich and Leipzig Opera and the Salzburg Festival. In 2017 his production of Verdi’s Don Carlo has its premiere in the National Theatre of Croatia in Zagreb.

He was the first to consider the then disused Postbahnhof am Ostbahnhof in Berlin as a venue and created for it a spectacular evening of music theatre entitled Schattenreich using music by Gérard Grisey and Alexander Goehr with the contemporary music ensemble Klangforum Wien.

He has directed Monteverdi and Handel with the historically informed Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and plans an open air production of Monteverdi’s Orfeo in Siena for SienAgosto.

Derek regularly contributes articles and essays to programme books and has given workshops for young singers in Berlin, London and Tokyo. He directed his own translation of Donizettis Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali which was premiered by the Dresdner Philharmonie and Michael Sanderling.

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