LEE BLAKELEY 1971 – 2017

Lee Blakeley, director of opera, musical theatre and theatre has died at the age of 45 of a heart attack. Lee was born in Yorkshire and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and at the University of Glasgow, graduating with the prize for directing.

Lee’s breakthrough production came with A Little Night Music, starring Leslie Caron, Lambert Wilson and Greta Schacci. This was the French premiere of a Sondheim musical and led to three further productions of the composer’s work. He worked extensively in the US, UK and Europe, known particularly for his visually stunning productions of classic musicals and operas, including the King & I, Kiss Me Kate and multiple critically-acclaimed Sondheim revivals following on from A Little Night Music (Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods) at the Chatelet in Paris, many of which transferred to other theatres in the US and Europe, including the Lyric Opera in Chicago and the Grand Theatre in Luxembourg.

In the US Lee worked regularly with Santa Fe Opera, his many popular productions there including Madame Butterfly, The Pearl Fishers, The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein and Rigoletto. Other productions in North America included Falstaff for Los Angeles Opera, The Tales of Hoffmann for Canadian Opera Company, the US premiere of Handel’s Richard the Lionheart and Verdi’s “Macbeth” at Opera Theatre of St. Louis (2017 winner of the St Louis Theatre Circle Awards for outstanding production of an opera).

Lee began his career in Opera in the UK, assisting David McVicar at the Royal Opera in his new production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte as well as Gounod’s Faust. He received the prestigious Winston Churchill Fellowship to study artist development and the culture of Philanthropy in the United States.

Lee is survived by his husband Jonathan Foster, his parents Carol and Richard, his sister Lisa, and his many friends and family in the theatre.