Six directors at the head of the Festival

From Gabriel Dussurget to Pierre Audi, six directors at the head of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence since 1948.

1948-1972: Gabriel Dussurget

Date and place of birth

31 December 1904 in Aïn M’lila, Algeria


28 July 1996 in Paris

Founded the Festival at the age of 44 and directed it for 24 years

Special interests

Mozart, opening to other repertoires, notably French contemporary works. Loved discovering talented newcomers


First impresario then artistic adviser at the Opéra National de Paris from 1959 to 1972


The Magician of Aix

Gabriel Dussurget interviewed by Ève Ruggieri in Aix-en-Provence, 22 July 1992 (INA)

I always personally auditioned all the singers I hired. (…) And in the role I had in mind for them. And not just one aria: I wanted them to sing almost the entire work and say all the recitatives. (…) To discover the right one, I listened to many. I spent my time doing that.

Gabriel Dussurget


1974-1981: Bernard Lefort

Date and place of birth

29 July 1922 in Paris


January 1999 in Paris

At the age of 52, he became director of the Festival, which he led for seven years

Special interests

Bel canto, voice in all its aspects


Worked as a baritone before illness put an end to his career as a singer. Director of the Opéra de Marseille from 1965 to 1968

Bernard Lefort with Jacques Chancel on Radioscopie, 1 July 1975 (INA)

The Festival must continue to be a great festival of song: singing will reign as the absolute master, and each season will focus entirely or partly on it.

Bernard Lefort


1982-1996: Louis Erlo

Date and place of birth

26 April 1929 

At the age of 53, he became director of the Festival, which he led for 14 years

Special interests

Rediscovery of baroque operas


Director the Opéra de Lyon from 1969 to 1973 and of the Opéra Studio de Lyon from 1973 to 1979

Yves Morousi interviewing Louis Erlo, TF1, 22 July 1982 (INA) 

When I took over responsibility for the Festival, my first wish was not to disturb this mysterious equilibrium that depends on so many intangible things and that makes everyone who has come to Aix say that music here is not quite the same as elsewhere.

Louis Erlo


1998-2007: Stéphane Lissner

Date and place of birth

23 January 1953 in Paris

At the age of 45, he became director of the Festival, which he led for nine years

Special interests

Intermingling the worlds of music, theatre and dance; opening to contemporary creation and to Wagner


Creator of the Académie du Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. After directing Le Châtelet, he became director of the Scala de Milan and later the Opéra de Paris, in 2014

Stéphane Lissner with Bruno Roger Petit in JA2 dernière (France 2), 22 June 1998 (INA)


2007-2018: Bernard Foccroulle

Date and place of birth

23 November 1953 in Liège

Became director of the Festival at the age of 54

Special interests

Creation of operas, opening to the Mediterranean, multicultural projects


He led the Théâtre de la Monnaie de Bruxelles from 1992 to 2007. He is also an organist and composer

Bernard Foccroulle just after being appointed as Festival director, France 3 news, 30 June 2007 (INA

Appeal to a very wide audience and allow it, thanks to the performers' voices, to interpret the emerging world of tomorrow.

Bernard Foccroulle


Since 2018: Pierre Audi
Date and place of birth

9 November 1957 in Beirut

Special interests

Opera Stage Direction: operas from across the whole repertoire including many by Mozart, Glück, Berlioz, Rameau, Rossini, Schönberg and Händel and Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

Repertoire of contemporary music theater works by Harrison Birtwistle, Morton Feldman, Claude Vivier, Theo Loevendie, Guus Janssen, Jonathan Harvey, Hans Werner Henze, Tan Dun, Param Vir, Kaija Saariaho, Alexander Knaifel, Pascal Dusapin, Louis Andriessen and Wolfgang Rihm.

Collaboration with many visual artists notably Karel Appel, Georg Baselitz, Anish Kapoor, Herzog & de Meuron, Jannis Kounellis, Berlinde De Bruyckere and Jonathan Meese.


He founds the Almeida Theatre in London and its Festival of Contemporary Music in 1979, is director of Dutch National Opera from 1988 to 2018, founds and becomes artistic director of the Holland Festival from 2004 to 2014 and is appointed in 2015 Artistic director of the Park Avenue Armory in New York.


His numerous awards include the Leslie Boosey Award for his contribution to British Musical Life, Medal of Honour, Drottninholm Sweden, the Prize of Holland’s Theater Critics, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Theater Prize and the Amsterdam Cultural Business Award. He becomes in 2009 the first recipient of the Johannes Vermeer Award, State prize for the arts in The Netherlands. He was knighted in the Order of the Dutch Lion in 2000 and was made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur a few years later.

I am proud to be part of starting in 2019 a new chapter in the Festival’s distinguished history, [...] especially in affirming the relevance of opera and music of the last 400 years through its perpetual evolution, to our modern, increasingly dissipated, world.

Pierre Audi