Gluck: Alceste, Ruhrtriennale 2016 (detail) View full image

Johan Simons

© Edi Szekely

This new Ruhrtriennale production was a gripping experience thanks to Johan Simons' personenregie. Simons directed a staging that put the focus not only on the dilemma of the protagonist but also on the moral consequences of this choice.

Opera, Alceste, Ruhtriennale

Johan Simons was born in 1946 and grew up in the Netherlands. Aged 7, he lived through the disastrous floods of 1953, an experience which has influenced his entire artistic career. After training as a dancer at the Rotterdam Academy and as an actor at the Theatre Academy in Maastricht, he became an actor of The Hague Comedie in 1976. It was there he directed his first production. He took up the position of Artistic Director of Bochumer Schauspielhaus at the start of the 2018-19 season. He was also Artistic Director of NTGent from 2015 to 2018.

Previously, Simons was Artistic Director of the Ruhrtriennale from 2015 to 2017. In 2017 he directed the world premiere of a new music theatre work – Cosmopolis, based on the novel by leading American novelist Don DeLillo, with music by Eric Schleichim and his ensemble Bl!ndman. Previous productions in Ruhr include Alceste with René Jacobs, Die Fremden (a musical theatre piece based on Camus’ L’étranger and including music by György Ligeti and Claude Vivier), the world première of Accattone (Pasolini text and the music of J S Bach) with Philippe Herreweghe and Das Rheingold with Teodor Currentzis.

Recent theatre work includes Radetzkymarsch by Joseph Roth at the Vienna Burgtheater, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand at the Thalia Theatre Hamburg, and Penthesliea at the 2018 Salzburg Summer Festival.

Other operatic work to date includes Simon Boccanegra in Paris, Boris Godunov in Madrid, Die Entführung aus dem Serail for Dutch National Opera and Duke Bluebeard’s Castle for the Salzburg Festival. Simons is also in demand as a guest director at German-language theatres, including the Schauspielhaus in Zurich, the Munich Kammerspiele and the Vienna International Festival.


  • Artistic Director, Bochum Schauspielhaus

Gluck: Alceste, Ruhrtriennale, 2016

Pasolini: Accattone, Ruhrtriennale, 2015

Wagner: Das Rheingold, Ruhrtriennale, 2015

Shakespeare: King Lear, Münchner Kammerspiele, 2013

Jelinek: Winterreise, Münchner Kammerspiele, 2011

4 publicity photos