Renato Zanella

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Renato Zanella
Born (1961-06-06) June 6, 1961 (age 56)
Known for Dance
Movement Ballet

Renato Zanella (born June 6, 1961 in Verona) an Italian ballet dancer, choreographer and director.


Zanella studied classical dance in his hometown and, after passing his final exams he moved to École supérieure de danse de Cannes Rosella Hightower[1] where he completed his ballet education. His first engagement as a dancer came in 1982 in Basel with Heinz Spoerli. After joining the Stuttgart Ballet in 1985, he was appointed permanent choreographer there in 1993, thanks to artistic director Marcia Haydée. In 1995, he was appointed artistic director and resident choreographer for the Vienna State Opera, a position he held for ten years until the end of the 2004/2005 season. From 2001 to 2005, Renato Zanella also acted as artistic director of the Vienna State Opera Ballet. From 2005 to 2011, he worked as a freelance artist on a global scale and, in September, 2011, he was appointed artistic director of the Greek National Ballet in Athens.[2]

Early Work (1989-1999)[edit]

In 1989, Renato Zanella choreographed his first work, “Die andere Seite” (The other Side). It was presented at the Young Choreographers’ programme of the Stuttgart Ballet based Noverre Society (Stuttgarter Noverre-Gesellschaft), as were his works “Distanz” (Distance) (1989) and “Ein Tag” (One Day) (1990). “Die andere Seite” (The other Side) was included as part of Stuttgart Ballet’s repertoire. “Stati d’animo” for Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun followed in 1991, as well as “Triptychon”, which was performed at the Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele Festival. Renato Zanella was responsible for setting movement for the singers in Salvatore Sciarrino’s Perseus and Andromeda, premiered by Gerald Thomas. Since 1991, he has created numerous solos for the students of the John Cranko School who have taken part in the Prix de Lausanne Competition, and from 1992 onwards, he has developed small pieces for Birgit Keil, Marcia Haydée, Richard Cragun and Christoph Lechner for a series of workshops behind the scenes. In April 1992, Renato Zanella’s first full-length ballet “Mann im Schatten” (Man in the Shade) was premiered in Stuttgart and in the summer of 1992, he choreographed “Voyage” for Vladimir Malakhov.

He has choreographed several ballets for the Stuttgart Ballet including “Empty Place” (November 1992), “Black Angels” (March 1993) and his second full-length ballet “Mata Hari” (December 1993) with Marcia Haydée in the leading role. In June 1993, he created “Apollon” for the John Cranko School and Vladimir Malakhov. In December 1993, he staged “Konzertantes Duo” for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. His choreographs also include “Watching Waters” for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo (December 1994) and “Pieces of Earth” for Introdans (April 1995). “Love Beyond” was staged in September 1996, “Ostarrichi” in October 1999 and “Concerto Italiano” in September 2003. He was responsible for the choreography of “... schatten von sehnsucht ...” (February 1998), “Last Blues”, “Moses and Aron” (directed by Götz Friedrich) (October 1999) for the Ballet of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (Berlin State Ballet). “Love Beyond” was part of the “off-ballet programme” at the Odeon Theatre (June 1997), he premiered “Memento Mori” in co-operation with “Wien modern” (November 1997) and in December 1997 he staged “Laus Deo”. His full-length ballet “Wolfgang Amadé” was premiered in March 1998, he created “Die sieben letzten Worte” (The Seven Last Words of Christ) for the “OsterKlang” Festival in Vienna (April 1998) and “Mythos” for the “NÖ Donaufestival 1998” (June 1998). His version of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero was premiered at the Vienna State Opera in November 1998 and his version of “Aschenbrödel” (Cinderella)[3] to the music of Johann Strauss was staged at the Vienna State Opera (December 1999), and in 1999 he also choreographed solos for Carla Fracci and Manuel Legris.

Renato Zanella’s first time choreographing for the Vienna State Opera was when he staged “Voyage” for Vladimir Malakhov in October 1993. He premiered his first creation for the Vienna State Opera Ballet, “La Chambre”, in February 1994 and the next month the Vienna State Opera included his ballet “Empty Place” as part of their repertoire. His first ballet as artistic director of the Vienna State Opera was “Konzertantes Duo”, which he premiered in September 1995. In December 1995, he created “Mon Euridice” for Vladimir Malakhov. Renato Zanella premiered his first complete programme for the company – “Strawinski-Abend: Symphony, Movements, Sacre” in April 1996. He premiered “Black Angels” in May 1996 and in June 1996 he presented a new version of “Mata Hari” at the Vienna Volksoper. In February 1997, he staged “Elements” at Vienna’s Odeon Theatre and the next month he created “Alles Walzer”.

The 2000s[edit]

In the year 2000 he started a dance project called “off ballet special” in co-operation with the “ich bin o. k.” (I’m O.K.) Dance Company – an association where disabled and non-disabled members dance together with members of the Vienna State Opera Ballet. In addition to their own matinee performances at the Vienna State Opera, ich bin o.k.’s performance highlights have included taking part in the opening of the Vienna Opera Ball in 2001 and a guest performance at the Polish National Opera, Warsaw in 2004.

In March 2000 he created the ballet “Beethoven Opus 73” and in November of the same year he presented his new version of “Der Nussknacker” (The Nutcracker). His version of “Spartacus” was presented in April 2002. In June 2003 he choreographed “Sensi” which was premiered at the Beethoven Festival in Bonn and in December 2003 he presented a new version of “Kadettenball” (Graduation Ball) and Duke’s Nuts. Renato Zanella choreographed the ballets “Petruschka” (music: Igor Strawinski; stage design/scenery: Christian Ludwig Attersee; costumes: Christof Cremer) and Renard (music: Igor Strawinski; stage design/scenery: Hermann Nitsch; costumes: Anne Marie Legenstein) for the Diaghilev-Evening (premiered on 23 March 2005).

In 2003, he choreographed the opera “Die Zauberin” (The Enchantress) (directed by David Pountney) for a co-production of the Teatro San Carlos in Lisbon and the Mariinski Theatre in St. Petersburg. “Die Sieben Todsünden” (The Seven Deadly Sins) (2005) was choreographed for the Neue Oper Wien and he created the ballet in “Maskerade” (Masquerade) (directed by David Pountney), a co-production between the Bregenzer Festspiele (Bregenz Festival)[4] and the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden. He presented “From Vienna With Love” at the 200th birthday tribute to August Bournonville in Copenhagen.

In the 2005/2006 season, he choreographed the ballet “Der Spielmann” (The Minstrel)[5] for Birgit Keil in Karlsruhe (accoutrements: Rosalie). “Empty Place” was included as part of Teatro Municipal de Lima’s repertoire and he staged the full-length ballet “Wolfgang Amadé” for the Madlenianum Opera and Theatre in Belgrade.[6] Renato Zanella choreographed the full-length ballet “Peer Gynt” for the Ballett des Teatro dell´Opera di Roma (November 2007) and “Amandi” for the Baden State Theatre Ballet in Karlsruhe (das Ballett des Badischen Staatstheater Karlsruhe) (April 2008). His choreographies for “Apollo” and “Feuervogel” (The Firebird) were presented at the Fondazione Arena di Verona.[7] He created “Brishen” and “Barocco” for the flamenco company “Compañía Suite Española” in 2011.

Furthermore, Renato Zanella choreographed the ballets for “Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen” (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes) (directed by David Pountney), “Le prophète” (The Prophet) (directed by Hans Neuenfels) and “Guillaume Tell” (William Tell) (directed by David Pountney) at the Vienna State Opera, served as movement director in “Don Giovanni” (directed by Roberto de Simone) and “Roméo et Juliette” (Romeo and Juliet) (directed by Jürgen Flimm), choreographed for “Jenůfa” (directed by David Pountney), “Der Riese vom Steinfeld” (The Giant of Steinfeld) (directed by Jürgen Flimm), “Jonny spielt auf” (Jonny Strikes Up) (directed by Günter Krämer), “Daphne” (directed by Nicola Joël) and “Le nozze di Figaro” (The Marriage of Figaro) (directed by Giorgio Strehler). In December 2007 the opera “La Juive” (The Jewess),[8] premiered in Zürich, for which Zanella choreographed the ballet interludes. Renato Zanella also choreographed for John Adam’s opera “A Flowering Tree”, directed by Nicola Raab, which was premiered at the Chicago Opera Theater in May 2008. In 2011 the opera “Die Trojaner” (The Trojans),[9] directed by David Pountney, was premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with dance sequences created by Renato Zanella. In May 2011 the operetta “Die lustige Witwe” (The Merry Widow),[10] directed by Marco Arturo Marelli, with ballet interludes choreographed by Zanella was premiered at the Vienna Volksoper. In April 2012 Renato provided the choreography for the opera Fürst Igor directed by David Poutney and was premiered at Zurich Opera House. The work was reprised and performed in September 2012 at Hamburg State Opera.

Work at Ballet Festivals[edit]

Renato Zanella has been repeatedly asked to work for numerous festivals: “Wiener Blut” (Viennese Blood or Viennese Spirit) was premiered in 1997 at the Vienna Dance Festival “Im Puls Tanz Wien 97”. He choreographed for the ballet “Via Salis” in Altausse in the year 2000, for “Adiemus Live!” for the VOESTival in Linz[11] with Karl Jankins, for “Renard”, “Trois Gymnopédies” (the three Gymnopédies) and “Die Geschichte vom Soldaten” (The Soldier’s Tale) at the Attergauer Kultursommer (summer festival) in 2001, “Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus” (The Creatures of Prometheus) and “Karneval der Tiere” (The Carnival of the Animals) with Sir Peter Ustinov for the VOESTival festival in Linz in 2003, with Lalo Schifrin in 2006, with Ute Lemper in 2007 and with George Fenton in 2008. Since 2009 Renato Zanella has been responsible for overseeing and supervising the dance section as artistic director at the “Festival of the Aegean” on Syros Island in Greece for which he choreographed, inter alia, “Zorba” (Zorba the Greek) and “Medea’s Choice” based on the opera “Medea” by Mikis Theodorakis.[12]

In 2009 Renato Zanella extended the scope of his artistic activities by staging operas – his first project being “Cosi fan tutte” which was staged at the “Attersee Klassik” Festival and met with great success with both the public and the critics.

In 2010 Zanella oversaw the production of Bizet’s “Carmen” at the sixth “Festival of the Aegean” on Syros Island where he is responsible for overseeing and supervising the dance section as artistic director. He staged “La Traviata” with Natalia Ushakova as Violetta at the “Festival of the Aegean” in 2011.[12] In January 2012 the opera "Faust" had premiere in the Athens Concert Hall in Athens, staged by Zanella.[13]

Renato Zanella choreographed “L'Enfantillage” (1994), the “Prozess Polka” and “Perpetuum mobile” (1995), “Csárdás aus Ritter Pasman” and the “Marien-Klänge Waltz” (2000), “Harlekin Polka” and “Der Kobold” (2001), “Hellenen Polka” (2003), “Fata Morgana” and “An der schönen blauen Donau” (The Blue Danube) (2005) for the annual New Year’s Concerts performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and which are televised to millions of viewers all over the world. For the New Year’s Concert in 2010 he choreographed the polka-mazurka “Ein Herz, ein Sinn”! (One Heart, One Mind!), and the Waltz “Morgenblätter” (Morning Journals) with costumes by Valentino.[14]

He also created choreographies for “An der schönen blauen Donau” (The Blue Danube) and “Opern-Soiree-Polka” (Opera Soiree Polka) (1996), “Carnevals-Botschafter” (Carnival Messages) and “Marsch D-Dur” (March in D Major) (1997), “Tausend und eine Nacht” (One Thousand and One Nights) and “Persischer Marsch” (Persian March) (1998), “Rosen aus dem Süden” (Roses from the South) and “Banditen-Galopp” (Bandit’s Gallop) (1999), “Opern-Maskenball-Quadrille” (Masked Ball Quadrille) and “Freikugeln” (Magic Bullets) (2000), “Seviliana” (the Sevillana) and “Galop” (a Galop) from “Le Trouvère” (2001), “Die Schönbrunner” (2002), “Wo die Citronen blühn’n” (Where the Lemons Blossom) and “Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka” (2003), “Carmen Quadrille” and “Hopser-Polka” (2004) for the Vienna Opera Balls. In addition, he has created solos for Vladimir Malakhov (Louis XIV.), Simona Noja (Strauss incontra Verdi), Roberto Bolle (Ave Verum), a solo that was even performed in the Vatican, Giuseppe Picone (Dying Swan) and Shoko Nakamura (Ombra). He was further commissioned as choreographer for the film “Jedermanns Fest” (directed by Fritz Lehner)[15] and for the “World Sports Awards of the Century” at the Vienna State Opera as well as the “Toyota Millennium Concert” in Tokyo.

Other roles[edit]

Renato Zanella has been much in demand as a juror at dance competitions: the “Prix de Lausanne” dance competition[16] (1995 and 1999), the “Concours International de Danse de Paris” (1998), the “Concours International de Chorégraphie Classique” in Paris, the “International Ballet Competition of Luxemburg” and the “Choreographen-Wettbewerb” (choreography competition) in Hannover (all in 1999) (as in 2007). In the year 2000 he was vice president of the 2nd International Ballet Competition in St. Pölten and a member of the Monaco Danses Dances Forum; in 2001 he was honorary president of the ÖTR Contest for Ballet and Contemporary Dance in Vienna and a member of the jury at the competition in Luxemburg and at the Choreography Competition in Helsinki as well as at the Prix Dom Pérignon competition in Hamburg.


The Italian magazine “Danza & Danza” awarded him the title of “Best Italian Choreographer Abroad” at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice in 1995. He received the award “Premio Internazionale Gino Tani” in Rome in the year 2000 for his choreographic achievements and in 2001 he was awarded the “Jakob Prandtauer-Preis” in St. Pölten. In the same year “Danza & Danza” awarded him the prize for “Best Artistic Director” for 2001. He has also been awarded the “Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art” by the Republic of Austria.[17] He received the prize for “the Best New Production in Italy” (2007) for his full-length choreography of “Peer Gynt” for the Balletto dell´Opera di Roma.[18]


  1. ^ "Ex-allievi — Ecole Supérieure de Danse de Cannes Rosella Hightower" (in Italian). Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ "New Director For The Greek National Opera’S Corps De Ballet". Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Johann Strauss: Aschenbrödel [DVD Video]". Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Bregenzer Festspiele". Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Meisterliches und Renato Zanellas "Der Spielmann"" (in German). March 02, 2006. Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  6. ^ "WOLFGANG AMADÉ by Renato Zanella". Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ Performance Detail
  8. ^ "Opernhaus Zürich" (PDF) (in German). Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Deutsche Oper Berlin — Renato Zanella" (in German). Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Die lustige Witwe" (in German). May 21, 2011. Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Renato Zanella" (in German). Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Festival of the Aegean 2011". Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  13. ^ "OPERA — Faust". Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Ballett zum Neujahrskonzert in Valentino-Kostümen" (in German). October 21, 2009. Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Renato Zanella — Filmography". Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Jury members since 1973". Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Renato Zanella erhielt das Österreichische Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst" (in German). Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  18. ^ "La situazione al Massimo di Palermo" (PDF) (in Italian). Retrieved May 14, 2012. 

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