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. productions during his tenure included the world premiere of a new music theatre work – Cosmopolis - based on the novel by leading American novelist Don DeLillo, 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.

Opera work also 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. In the 2019-20 season he directs Don Carlos, which opens the new season at Opera Vlaanderen.


  • Artistic Director, Bochum Schauspielhaus

Verdi: Don Carlos, Opera Vlaanderen, 2019

Gluck: Alceste, Ruhrtriennale, 2016

Pasolini: Accattone, Ruhrtriennale, 2015

Jelinek: Winterreise, Münchner Kammerspiele, 2011

Wagner: Das Rheingold, Ruhrtriennale, 2015

Shakespeare: King Lear, Münchner Kammerspiele, 2013

4 publicity photos