ANDREJS ŽAGARS (1958 - 2019) is one of the most interesting talents among today's stage directors.
After graduating from the Latvian Academy of Music and the Film Actor's Studio, he became a popular actor in Latvian and Russian films, and on the theatre stage. He was the General Director of the Latvian National Opera from 1996 to 2013.
Under his leadership, the Latvian National Opera has developed into an internationally acclaimed company, one of the most progressive ones among the Eastern Europe opera houses. Lead by Andrejs Žagars, the LNO took part in several international opera festivals and also toured to Taiwan, to Hong Kong, to Mexico and Beijing as well as in Europe.
He participated at the Maifestspiele festival in Wiesbaden and at the Kuresaare (Estonia) opera festival with The Flying Dutchman, as well as at the Savonlinna Opera Festival with The Demon. His Lady Macbeth was performed in Catania and at the Hong Kong International Arts festival. His Queen of Spades was shown in Bordeaux and Luxembourg.
Andrejs Žagars established the annual Riga Opera Festival as an international event that showcases the best productions of the Latvian National Opera and attracts an international audience as well as critics from the world's leading music magazines and newspapers.
His fresh interpretations of classic opera works won praise in the international press. Articles about Andrejs Žagars have appeared in The Economist, The Financial Times, Arts Manager, Opernglas, Opernwelt and other issues.
Furthermore, Andrejs Žagars established a studio for young opera soloists in Riga. Many young talents who today have an international carrier began in the studio.
As a stage director, Andrejs Žagars has staged:
- The Flying Dutchman (Wagner) in 2002
- The Demon (Anton Rubinstein) in 2003
- The Queen of Spades (Tchaikovsky) in 2005
- The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Shostakovich) in Riga and Nabucco (Verdi) in Moscow in 2006
- La Traviata (Verdi) and Carmen (Bizet) in Riga in 2007
- Werther (Massenet) in Erfurt in 2008
- Prince Igor (Borodin) in Essen, Don Giovanni (Mozart) and Werther in Riga in 2009
- Der Rosenkavalier (Strauss) in Budapest, Carmen in Bologna, Uno Ball in Maschera (Verdi) in St. Petersburg, Il torvatore (Verdi) in Klagenfurt, Eugene Onegin in Riga in 2010. Il torvatore in Zagreb in June 2011
- Manon Lescaut in Tallinn in November 2011
- Lucia di Lammermoor in the Latvian National Opera in May 2012 (starring outstanding Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka)
His future plans include Wagner’s Lohengrin in the Lithuanian National Opera (2013) and the Opera of the Slovak National Theatre (2013), Prokofiev’s Betrothal in a Monastery in The Perm State P.I. Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre (2013) , Wagner’s Tannhäuser in Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre (2013) and Prague Opera (2014).
Andrejs Žagars has received several awards:
- 2012 State decoration of the Republic of Estonia - the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana
- 2011 Riga City council award on contribution of international promotion of Riga - Title of “Citizen of Riga 2011”
- 2011 The Baltic Star International Prize for the development and strengthening of humanitarian links between the countries of the Baltic Region
- 2011 Cross of Officer of the Order for Merits to Lithuania
- 2010 The Order of Friendship given by the President of Russia Dmitri Medvedev for
- strengthening the culture link between Latvia and Russia
- 2008 The Award of the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia for an outstanding contribution to the development of a contemporary, dynamic and internationally competitive Latvian National Opera (Latvia)
- 2008 Spidola Economy Award from the Latvian Economists Association 2010 for popularizing latvian culture abroad, innovative business solutions and successful work at the National Opera for twelve years
- 2006 Officer of the Order of Orange – Nassau (The Netherlands),
- 2002 The Order of the Three Stars (Republic of Latvia)
- 2001 Commander of the Legion d’Honneur – France