An internationally recognized director of opera and theater, as well as the General Director of The Glimmerglass Festival since 2010 and the Artistic Director of The Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center since 2012. She has also served as the Artistic Advisor to the San Francisco Opera from 2005-2011 and as the Artistic Director of the Skylight Theater from 1987-1992.
Her American directing debut took place at the Houston Grand Opera with a production of Fidelio in 1984. She debuted in Europe at Teatro la Fenice in Venice with Beatrice di Tenda in 1987 and has since staged new productions at major theaters and opera houses in Europe and the USA. Collaborating with outstanding artists and designers and promoting emerging talent, she takes a special interest in new music theater works, innovative productions, and in producing theater and opera for wider audiences.
Francesca Zambello has been awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for her contribution to French culture and the Russian Federation's medal for Service to Culture. Other honors for her work include three Olivier Awards from the London Society of Theaters and two Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical and Best Opera. She has also received the award for Best Company Achievement. The French Grand Prix des Critiques was awarded to her twice for her work at the Paris Opera. She has received the Medallion Society Award from the San Francisco Opera recognizing 30 years of work for the company. Other awards include Best Production in Japan, the Palme d'Or in Germany, the Golden Mask in Russia and the Helpmann Award in Australia.
Francesca Zambello most recent opera projects have included The Ring for the San Francisco Opera and upcoming at The Washington National Opera, Porgy and Bess and Show Boat for commercial DVD release. Musical and theater projects have included developing Voigt Lessons with Terrance McNally and Debbie Voight,,Rebecca, for Vienna's Raimund Theater, Stuttgart’s Palladium Theater (presented by Stage Entertainment), and in St. Gallen, Switzerland; The Little Prince with Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman; Napoleon in the West End; The Little Mermaid for Disney on Broadway; the musical of The Little House on the Prairie for national tour and The Master Butchers at The Guthrie Theater, and Aladdin in Disneyland. Film works have included Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors for BBC Television, as well as a new film for the BBC, Sony and PBS of The Little Prince; and, West Side Story for the floating stage in Bregenz.
Ms. Zambello has also served as an adjunct professor at Yale University. An American who grew up in Europe, she speaks French, Italian, German, and Russian. She attended Moscow University in 1976 and graduated cum laude from Colgate University in 1978. She began her career as an Assistant Director to the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. Francesca Zambello lives in New York with her wife, Faith Gay, a senior partner at Quinn, Emanuel, Uruqhart and Sullivan and step-son, Jackson.