Serge Dorny was born in Wevelgem in Belgium. He began his theatre career in the dramaturge team 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.
Serge Dorny has pursued an innovative artistic policy since his appointment as General Director of the Opéra national de Lyon in 2003. His bills has 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 has 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.
Serge Dorny is a Board Member of the Concours Reine Elisabeth in Brussels, of the Orchestre Français des Jeunes and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Lyon. He is a regular juror with international music contests. From 2008 to 2014, he was a lecturer at the University of Zurich on the Executive Master in Arts Administration study course, and he has taught at the Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan since 2016. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Montreal in 2008. He is a Knight of the French Legion of Honour and the Belgian Order of the Crown.