David Pountney

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For the retired footballer of the same name, see Dave Pountney
David Pountney

David Willoughby Pountney CBE (born 10 September 1947) is a British and Polish[1] theatre and opera director and librettist internationally known for his productions of rarely performed operas and new productions of classic works. He has directed over ten world premieres, including three by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies for whom he wrote the librettos of The Doctor of Myddfai, Mr Emmet Takes a Walk and Kommilitonen![2]


Pountney was born in Oxford and educated nearby at Radley College (1961-66). Thence he became a chorister at St John's College, Cambridge where he later read his degree.[3][4]

His first major breakthrough came in 1972 with his production of Káťa Kabanová for the Wexford Festival.[2] From 1975 to 1980, he was the Director of Productions at Scottish Opera, and, from 1982 to 1993, Director of Productions at English National Opera, where he directed over twenty operas.[5] From 1993 to 2004, he worked as a free-lance director at the Zurich Opera, the Vienna State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, and other houses in America, Japan, and the United Kingdom. He has also directed at De Nederlandse Opera and Opera Australia. In December 2003 he became the Intendant of the Bregenz Festival, a post he held until 2014. In April of that year 2011 he was named head of the Welsh National Opera with his appointment as chief executive and artistic director to begin in September 2011.[5]

He has worked as a librettist for Sir Peter Maxwell Davies on The Doctor of Myddfai, Mr Emmet Takes a Walk and Kommilitonen!, and has translated opera librettos into English from Russian, Czech, German, and Italian.[6]

He wrote the libretto for and directed Elena Langer's opera Figaro Gets a Divorce, which was premiered at the Welsh National Opera in February 2016.[7] To great critical acclaim he directed Zandonai's exquisitely rare Francesca da Rimini at La Scala Opera House, Milan in 2018. Later that year at Strasbourg he directed Kurt Weill and Arnold Schoenberg in Das Mahagonny Songspiel, Pierrot Lamaire and Die 7 Todsunden.


Pountney is a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (a French civilian honour), a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et Lettres, has the Cavalier's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and was awarded the Ehrenkreuz des Bundes Osterreich in 2014. and a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire).[8]

Selected productions[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.pap.pl/aktualnosci/news%2C383396%2Crezyser-operowy-david-pountney-przyjal-polskie-obywatelstwo.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b Baumgartner (22 July 2009)
  3. ^ "David Pountney". Welsh National Opera. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Who's who". St John's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b BBC News (1 April 2011)
  6. ^ Clements (21 January 2002); Christiansen (22 March 2011); White (14 July 1996)
  7. ^ "Figaro Gets a Divorce", Welsh National Opera website. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  8. ^ Der Standard (11 March 2004); St. John's College, Cambridge. Honorary Fellows


External links[edit]