ALVIS HERMANIS is one of the most celebrated Latvian directors – both in Latvia and beyond. He began his career as an actor for theatre and film. In 1993, he started directing stage productions for The New Riga Theatre (JRT) where he became the Artistic Director in 1997. His most critically acclaimed productions at the JRT – on a domestic and international level – include Arbuzov’s My Poor Marat, Gogol’s The Inspector General, Tolstaya’s Sonja to name a few, as well as compositions created in collaboration with JRT’s actors, which include The Long Life, Latvian Stories, Latvian Love, Grandfather and History Research Commission.
He also created two special productions, dedicated to the Latvian-born ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov – Brodsky/Baryshnikov (featuring Joseph Brodsky’s poetry) and his own masterpiece The White Helicopter. Critics have praised his work at the JRT for being innovative – one that introduces the audience to new forms of theatre and unconventional methods of working. Hermanis has directed JRT’s productions in Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Estonia, and he regularly collaborates with the world’s major theatre festivals, including Salzburg, Avignon, Edinburgh, Seoul, and Montreal, among others.
Since 2012, Hermanis has been an active agent in the opera field, too. Following the restauration of the Latvian National Opera’s historic building in 1995, together with the conductor Aleksandrs Vilumanis, Hermanis created the opera’s first production after its re-opening – Fire and Night by Jāzeps Vītols. He has also directed productions for the Salzburg Festival, including Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten, Birtwistle’s Gawain, Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae. His impressive list also includes Mozart’s Così fan tutte for the Komische Oper Berlin; Puccini’s Tosca for the Berlin State Opera; Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust for the Bastille Opera in Paris; Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten, Verdi’s I due Foscari and Il trovatore, as well as Puccini’s Madame Butterfly for Milan’s Teatro alla Scala; and Wagner’s Parsifal for the Vienna State Opera. In 2014, he directed a production of Leoš Janáček's opera Jenůfa at La Monnaie / De Munt in Brussels.
Hermanis has received numerous domestic and international awards, including the Order of the Three Stars, the Baltic Assembly Prize for the Arts, and the Excellence Award in Culture.