Ollé, Àlex

Àlex Ollé (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈaɫəks uˈʎe]) (Barcelona, 1960) is one of the six artistic directors of La Fura dels Baus, one of the most innovative and prestigious theatre companies on the international scene, which was founded in 1979 and has been characterised from the start by the search for its own language in which public participation is key for developing the show. Prominent works from its early period include Accions (1984), Suz/O/Suz (1985), Tier Mon (1988), Noun (1990) and MTM (1994), which established La Fura dels Baus as a top company among both critics and the public.

In collaboration with Carlus Padrissa, Ollé created and directed Mediterrani, mar olímpic, the epicentre of the opening ceremony of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, an event that fascinated and left a mark on millions of viewers around the world.

Since then, Ollé’s theatrical career has been characterised by different genres, creating and directing plays, operas and large-format shows for different commemorations and events, always with the mark of his own personal language and that of the company he founded.


The first operas that Àlex Ollé directed were joint projects with Carlus Padrissa and the artist Jaume Plensa: L'Atlàntida by Manuel de Falla in (1996) and Le Martyre de saint Sébastien by Claude Debussy in 1997. These were followed by El Feo by Pablo Ponce, which first premiered in 1999 at the Vicente Calderón Stadium of Opera; La damnation de Faust by Héctor Berlioz, which debuted in 1999 at the Salzburg Festival; DQ. Don Quijote en Barcelona, with music by José Luis Turina and libretto by Justo Navarro, which premiered at the Gran Teatre del Liceu de Barcelona in 2000; Die Zauberflöte (The magic flute) by W. A. Mozart in 2003, as part of the Ruhrtriennale, a co-production of the Opéra de Paris and the Teatro Real in Madrid; Bluebeard's Castle by Béla Bartók and Diary of one who disappeared by Leoš Janáček in 2007, presented under a single programme, a co-production of the Opéra National in Paris and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. With the collaboration of Valentina Carrasco, he directed the mise-en-scène of Le Grand Macabre by György Ligeti in 2009, co-produced by the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels, the English National Opera in London and the Opera di Roma. In 2010, this stage work was selected to open the 50th Adelaide Festival of Arts in Australia.

Together with Carlus Padrissa he directed Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny [Rise and fall of the city of Mahagonny] (2010) by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, which debuted at the Teatro Real in Madrid and was rebroadcast live via satellite to 127 movie theatres in Europe in Mexico.

In 2011, he directed Quartet by Luca Francesconi, based on the play of the same name by Heiner Müller. The opera debuted at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and was co-produced with the Wiener Festwochen in collaboration with IRCAM in Paris. This production received the prestigious Abbiati Award for La migliore Novità assoluta. The same year he presented Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner at the Opéra in Lyon. French critics have chosen this production as one of the top three winners of the year by the newspaper Le Temps. In 2011, in collaboration with Valentina Carrasco, he also directed Oedipe by George Enescu, co-produced by the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels and the Théâtre National de l’Opéra in Paris.

His first Verdi opera, Un ballo in maschera, opened at the Sydney Opera in January 2013, won the Helpmann Award for the opera stage direction in the season 2012/2013. This was a production between Opera Sidney, Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels and the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet of Oslo. In 2013, he also directed Il prigioniero by Dallapiccola and Erwartung by Schoenberg, opened in Justice & Injustice festival in the Opéra de Lyon, and Verdi's Aida, together with Carlus Padrissa, to open the centenary of the Arena di Verona.

In 2014 he premiered Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly at the Opera Handa, a mounting outdoors in the Bay of Sydney; Faust by Charles Gounod, a coproduction of the Teatro Real and the Nederlandse Opera, and Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer, produced by the Opéra de Lyon, the Opéra de Lille, Opera Australia (Melbourne Opera) and the Bergen Nasjonale Opera.

He directed Pelleas et Melisande by Claude Debussy at the Semperoper Dresden in 2015, and later Verdi's Il trovatore, a staging inspired by World War I, co-produced by De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam and the Opéra National de Paris. On February 2016, this production was rebroadcast live to 180 European cinemas during its representations in Opéra de la Bastille in Paris.

On September 2016 he opened the season at The Royal Opera House in London with Vincenzo Bellini‘s Norma, a show that was broadcast live in 100 European cinemas. In October he premiered Puccini's La bohème in the Teatro Regio Torino, to celebrate the 120th anniversary of its release, a co-production with the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma.

During 2017 he premiered Alceste by Christoph Willibald Gluck in the Opéra Lyon, and Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher by Arthur Honegger and La Damoiselle élue by Claude Debussy, produced by the Frankfurt Opera and the Teatro Real de Madrid.


The plays that Àlex Ollé has directed include F@ust 3.0 (1998), based on the novel Faust by Goethe; La Riñonera de David (1999), which was inspired by his son David; XXX (2001), based on La philosophie dans le boudoir [Philosophy in the bedroom] by the Marquis de Sade, both in collaboration with Carlus Padrissa; Metamorphosis (2005), together with Javier Daulte, based on Franz Kafka’s text and Boris Godunov (2008), with David Plana, a play based on the attack on the Dubrovka Theatre in Moscow and on the work of Alexander Pushkin. In 2010 he co-directed Samuel Beckett’s First love with Miquel Gorriz, a co-production of the Chekov International Theatre Festival in Moscow and the Grec Theatre Festival in Barcelona. In 2017, he directed Jovo: My Wonderful Friends, a play written by aspiring theater performer Marco Moriche.

Other works

He has also participated in many large-scale shows, either alone or in collaboration with Carlus Padrissa, such as La navaja en el ojo, for the opening of the 2001 Valencia Biennial; Naumaquia, created for the Universal Forum of Cultures in Barcelona in 2004; the opening of the Track Cycling World Championships in Palma in 2007; Window of the city, the thematic show for Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China and Istambul, Istambul in 2012, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV). In 2014 he created, with the architect Benedetta Tagliabue BCN.RESET, a route of ephemeral architecture through the streets of Barcelona.

His sole foray into the world of film is Fausto 5.0, a movie he co-directed with Carlus Padrissa and Isidro Ortiz, a screenplay by Fernando León de Aranoa. Debuting in 2001 at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, it received the Méliès d’Or Award in 2003 (among others) for the best European fantasy film.

Notes and references