Serge Dorny

Serge Dorny was born in Wevelgem in Belgium and studied art history, archaeology, musicology, and communication at the University of Ghent and music at the city’s conservatory. He began his theatre career as dramaturge under Gerard Mortier at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, moving from here to the Festival of Flanders, where was appointed Artistic Director in 1987. He revitalised the festival programme with a new repertoire and an innovative offering of baroque and contemporary, invited big, significant orchestras and engaged a series of conductors starting out on their careers, among them Iván Fischer, Valery Gergiev, Simon Rattle and Esa-Pekka Salonen, for example. He was appointed General Director and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1996, where he corrected the financial situation and re-established the orchestra’s artistic excellence. Kurt Masur was made Principal Conductor and Vladimir Jurowski was appointed Principal Guest Conductor, and the cooperation with Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons and Wolfgang Sawallisch was intensified.

From 2003 to 2021 he was General Director of the Opéra national de Lyon in 2003 where he pursued an innovative artistic policy. His bills combined major works of the repertoire with lesser-known operas, developed thematic festivals and afforded the music of the 20th century and contemporary works a truly special significance. He invited outstanding conductors such as William Christie, Lothar Koenigs, Stefano Montanari, Kazushi Ono, Kirill Petrenko, Jérémie Rhorer and Daniele Rustioni, recruited film and theatre directors such as Christophe Honoré, David Marton and Wajdi Mouawad for the opera, and established a continuous cooperation with renowned stage artistes such as Romeo Castellucci, Robert Lepage, La Fura dels Baus (Àlex Ollé), Laurent Pelly, Olivier Py and Dmitri Tcherniakov. His initiative to make the opera house’s artistic offering accessible to audiences that previously had very few points of contact with musical theatre, and to bring them closer with special activities, such as the regular art and culture programme, now enjoys international renown here. In 2017, the Opéra national de Lyon was named Opera House of the Year by the British press’s International Opera Awards and also declared Opera House of the Year with the “Opernwelt” specialist opera journal’s critics' vote.

With the 2021/2022 season, he started his tenure as General Director of the Bavarian State Opera.

Serge Dorny is a Board Member of the Bayerische Rundfunk and the Concours Reine Elisabeth (Queen Elisabeth Competition) in Brussels. He has also served on the jury of international music competitions, including Helsinki and Bamberg (for conductors) and Monte Carlo (for pianists), and has lectured at the University of Zurich in the Executive Master in Arts Administration study programme and at the Accademia Teatro alla Scala. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Montreal in 2008. He is a Knight of the French Legion of Honour, Commander of the French "Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" and Knight of the Belgian Order of the Crown.

His publications include “L’avenir d’un passé” (with Johan Thieleman) and “Penser l’opéra à present” (Actes Sud, 2021).