Jonathan Kent

Jonathan Kent was the joint artistic director, with Ian McDiarmid, of the Almeida Theatre between 1990 – 2002. In addition to his successful theatre work Jonathan has directed operas for the foremost houses of Europe and America. He was made a CBE in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

© Lucie Goodayle, Guardian News & Media Ltd


Jonathan’s most recent opera engagements include Puccini Tosca and Manon Lescaut for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Janáček Katya Kabanova, Adès The Tempest, Mozart Le nozze di Figaro and Moravec The Letter for Santa Fe Opera; Strauss Elektra and Strauss Die Frau ohne Schatten for the Mariinsky Theatre; Tippett A Child of our Time and Wagner The Flying Dutchman for English National Opera; Mozart  Don Giovanni, Britten The Turn of the Screw and Rameau Hippolyte et Aricie for Glyndebourne Festival Opera; The Fairie Queen for Glyndebourne, Opéra Comique and at BAM; and The Flying Dutchman for the Royal Danish Opera.




  • More info  

    Label: Glyndebourne Opera

    Release Date: 03 Jul 14

    Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Conductor; William Christie, Director; Jonathan Kent, Hippolytus, Ed Lyon, Aricia, Christiane Karg, Phaedre, Sarah Connolly, Theseus, Stéphane Degout, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The Glyndebourne Chorus

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    Label: Opus Arte / Glyndebourne

    Release Date: 26 Oct 10

    Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Jonathan Kent’s production of Purcell’s huge semi-opera, based on an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. William Christie, conductor Jonathan Kent, director. Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Cast includes: Lucy Crowe, Carolyn Sampson, Ed Lyon, Andrew Foster-Williams, Joseph Millson, Desmond Barrit. Winner of the Gramophone Award for DVD productions.


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    14 Apr 15 Gypsy
    Savoy Theatre, London
    “Jonathan Kent’s production of this fabulous musical, unseen in the West End for over 40 years, has got even better since its Chichester debut last autumn. Since the show is about Momma Rose’s attempt to turn her progeny into vaudeville stars, it sits perfectly in a traditional proscenium theatre.”

    Michael Billington, The Guardian, April 16 2015

    “The musical is a genuine treat from start to finish, with excellent songs, a flawless orchestra and one of the most emotionally powerful performances you’re like to see all year in Imelda Staunton.”

    Tom Eames, DigitalSpy, 16 April 2015

    “However, this latest interpretation, a transfer from Chichester Festival Theatre to London’s West End, may change that. Showcasing a finely calibrated belter of a performance by Imelda Staunton as Momma Rose, this ecstatically well-received production (which reteams the star with her Sweeney Todd director Jonathan Kent), looks set to run for miles. Cannily splitting the difference between traditional showmanship and the bleaker undertones of recent interpretations like the 2003 Sam Mendes-Bernadette Peters version on Broadway, it’s a work that will appeal to theater geeks, camp followers and casual viewers alike.”

    Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 April 2015

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    17 Jun 14 Puccini Manon Lescaut
    Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
    “We don’t call ladies like Manon Lescaut “fallen women” any more, but there are plenty of modern-day Manons around. As Julie Burchill once observed: “Wherever there are rich men trying not to feel old, there will be young girls trying not to feel poor.”
    That is surely Jonathan Kent’s view too. Bringing Puccini’s earliest hit to the Royal Opera stage for the first time in 30 years, he dumps the 18th-century context of Prevost’s novel, and the late 19th-century world of Puccini himself, in favour of a thoroughly contemporary interpretation.
    Paul Brown’s ingenious set starts off as half a modern apartment block (albeit improbably fringed with fairy lights) and half the casino in which Maurizio Muraro’s gross, oligarch-like Geronte will take advice from Christopher Maltman’s superb, pimpish Lescaut on how to seduce Kristine Opolais’s opportunist Manon.
    Not that she needs much seduction. By Act II the set has swivelled to reveal Manon, now a perv’s delight in a thigh-revealing Barbie doll outfit, knee-high socks and blonde wig, giving live webcam sex shows from Geronte’s mansion to an audience of leering, bald lechers. Later, Geronte’s olde-worlde madrigal is turned by Manon into a bit of girl-on-girl action.
    Well, that’s one way of upstaging the supposed main attraction of this show: Jonas Kaufmann as Des Grieux. Kent’s exuberant directorial inventions don’t stop there. Manon’s trial and deportation is staged as a grotesque reality-TV court scene. There is one surreal moment when the entire lighting rig is lowered to become part of the action. And instead of the Louisiana desert, she and Des Grieux end up on that quintessential symbol of urban desolation: a buckled, derelict flyover.”

    5 stars: Richard Morrison, The Times, 18 June 2014

    “Flamboyantly designed by Paul Brown, Jonathan Kent’s production of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut could not be more different from Laurent Pelly’s daintily stylised Belle Epoque version of Massenet’s take on the story which we saw in the same house four months ago. …
    Kent presents Manon’s Parisian high-life in contradiction to both music and plot. Puccini’s fashionable courtesan becomes a soft-porn star reigning amid vulgar bling; the chaste beauty of Opolais’s singing is undermined by the voyeuristic sexuality she is directed to portray, and her exiling becomes reality tv on a seedy waterfront.”

    4 stars: Michael Church, The Independent, 18 June 2014

    “Kent was greeted by boos at his  curtain call, presumably by sections of the audience who would prefer to keep the real world out of the opera house. They should go home and look up “verismo” in the musical dictionary.”

    4 stars: Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 18 June 2014

    “It is a brave director who tries to update Puccini. For a group of works commonly (if erroneously) described as “realistic”, Puccini’s operas are resistant to being uprooted from their original settings – so this new production of Manon Lescaut takes a big risk in reimagining the opera as a disturbing tract on sexual exploitation in the modern world.
    By and large the opera profits from it.”

    4 stars: Richard Fairman, The Fincial Times, 18 June 2014 

    “Kent has a sure feel for the underlying truths of this story, and … this new production tells it directly and convincingly. … It is one of those productions where each element works superbly, creating a whole that is so much more than the sum of its impressive parts.  The Royal Opera has another winner.”

    Keith Clarke,, 25th June 2014




PUCCINI Manon Lescaut, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

RAMEAU Hippolyte et Aricie, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

WAGNER The Flying DutchmanEnglish National Opera

STRAUSS Elektra, Opéra de Nice
BRITTEN The turn of the screw, Los Angeles Opera
MOZART Don Giovanni, Glyndebourne Festival Opera
BRITTEN The turn of the screw, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

PURCELL The fairy queen, Opera Comique, Paris
PURCELL The fairy queen, BAM, New York
MOZART Don Giovanni, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

PURCELL The fairy queen, Glyndebourne Festival Opera
MORAVEC The Letter, Santa Fe Opera
STRAUSS Die Frau ohne Schatten, Mariinsky Theatre

MOZART Le nozze di Figaro, Santa Fe Opera

STRAUSS Elektra, Mariinsky Theatre
BRITTEN The Turn of the Screw, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

PUCCINI Tosca, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
ADES The Tempest, Santa Fe Opera
BRITTEN The Turn of the Screw, Glyndebourne on Tour

TIPPETT A child of our Time, English National Opera
MOZART Lucio Silla, Santa Fe Opera

JANACEK Katya Kabanova, Santa Fe OperA


How to make Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman fly: A Diary
Jonathan Kent recounts the problems he has faced in the weeks of rehearsals prior to opening night on Saturday 28th April.
The Times, 26 April 2012

ENO’s new Flying Dutchman: ‘It will be a white-knuckle ride’
Director Jonathan Kent and conductor Edward Gardner talk about their first tussle with Wagner in ENO’s new production of The Flying Dutchman- Tom Service reports.
The Guardian / 19 April 2012

Dynamic duo launch into a leviathan
Directors Jonathan Kent and Ian McDiarmid are used to challenges. But a nine-hour Ibsen boasting 75 speaking parts? Jasper Rees reports
Telegraph, 8 June 2011

Jonathan Kent: Opera’s great antihero
Jonathan Kent was one of the country’s top theatre directors before chalking up a series of successes in opera. Tom Service talks to him ahead of taking on Don Giovanni
The Guardian , 1 July 2010

Golden ticket: British theatre’s dynamic duo bring Don Giovanni to Glyndebourne
Michael Church, The Independent , 4 July, 2010