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Video Published: 05 Feb 2024

NEA Opera Honors: An Oral History with Lotfi Mansouri

In 2009, general director Lotfi Mansouri was awarded an NEA Opera Honors award and sat down for an interview about opera and their life.

This interview was originally posted by the NEA on May 2, 2010.
The Oral History Project is supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. 

Lotfi Mansouri, general director

Lotfi Mansouri (1929–2013) served as resident stage director of the Zürich Opera from 1960 to 1966 and as head stage director at the Geneva Opera from 1966 to 1976, while also directing productions throughout Europe and the United States. In 1976, Mansouri became general director of the Canadian Opera Company. He introduced Canadian audiences to many works, including Lulu and Death in Venice, and in 1983, revolutionized opera by ushering in supertitles at a performance of Elektra. He moved on to San Francisco Opera in 1988, where he was general director until 2001. Under Mansouri's leadership, San Francisco Opera established the Pacific Visions program to commission new works and to perform little-known ones. The project led to some of the most compelling operas of our time, including Conrad Susa and Philip Littell’s The Dangerous Liaisons, André Previn and Philip Littell’s A Streetcar Named Desire, and Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Dead Man Walking.

Mansouri was a 2009 recipient of the NEA Opera Honors, a program administered by the National Endowment for the Arts from 2008 to 2011. The NEA Opera Honors recipients are now recognized in OPERA America’s Opera Hall of Fame.

Oral History Project

Discover the full collection of oral histories at the link below.