British composer Rachel Portman, known for her incredibly lush movie scores, is creating her first opera. She is the first female composer to win an Academy Award. Her film scores include Emma (Academy Award), the current Nicholas Nickleby, Cider House Rules (Academy Award and Grammy nominations), Chocolat (Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations), The Legend of Bagger Vance, Hart’s War, Only You, Marvin’s Room, Addicted to Love, Home Fries, Beloved, The Joy Luck Club, and Benny and Joon, among others. An Oxford University graduate, Ms. Portman first worked in film when she rescored a Channel Four film called Experience Preferred But Not Essential. More television projects followed allowing her to work with some of the best English directors and producers of our time, on Mike Leigh’s Four Days in July, Shoot to Kill, Precious Bane, Jim Henson’s Storyteller, Ethan Frome, the BAFTA award-winning Oranges are not the Only Fruit, and The Falklands War. One of Ms. Portman’s early successes was the score for Privileged, the movie that launched Hugh Grant’s career. In 1999, she won the Flanders International Film Festival Award for Ratcatcher. In 2001, she worked with her producer husband Uberto Pasolini on the Disney film The Emperor’s New Clothes and with Jonathan Demme on the film The Truth About Charlie, which required recording in Paris, London and New York with a variety of world musicians. Ms. Portman lives in London with her husband and three daughters.

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An internationally recognized director of opera and theater, Francesca Zambello's American debut took place at the Houston Grand Opera with a production of Fidelio in 1984. She debuted in Europe at Teatro la Fenice in Venice with Beatrice di Tenda in 1987 and has since staged new productions at major theaters and opera houses in Europe and the USA. Collaborating with outstanding artists and designers and promoting emerging talent, she takes a special interest in new music theater works, innovative productions, and in producing theater and opera for wider audiences.

 Ms. Zambello has recently been awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for her contribution to French culture and the Russian Federation’s medal for Service to Culture. Other honors for her work include three Olivier Awards from the London Society of Theaters for Khovanschina (English National Opera, 1994), Billy Budd (Royal Opera House, 1995) and Paul Bunyan (Royal Opera House, 1998). Her production of Lady in the Dark (Royal National Theatre, 1997) received the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical she also received the Best Company Achievement for Paul Bunyan (1998). The French Grand Prix des Critiques was awarded to her for Billy Budd (Paris Opera, 1997) and for War and Peace (Paris Opera, 2000). She also was given the Critics Golden Prize for 1999 for Best Production for Dialogues of the Carmelites in Japan. Her production of Street Scene which played in Berlin at the Theatre des Westens received the Palme d'Or in Germany and France (1996). She received Seattle's Artist of the year in 1991. Her work has also been recognized in a documentary for CBS, a profile in Time Magazine and a documentary on French Arte TV.

 Works for the 2002-3 season include Les Troyens for the Metropolitan Opera, Boris Godunov at the Paris Opera, a new children's piece on The Little Prince with Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman, West Side Story for the floating stage in Bregenz and Aladdin: the Musical for Disneyland. Some of her work for future seasons include a world premiere for the Met, a return to the Bolshoi for Fiery Angel, William Tell and Trovatore for the Bastille.

Opera projects this past season included Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors slated for transmission in December 2002 for BBC Television, the world premiere of Therese Raquin commissioned by the Dallas Opera and composed by Tobias Picker, Jenufa for the San Francisco Opera; Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House; the opening of the Bolshoi season with Turandot, and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for Opera Australia.

An American who grew up in Europe, she speaks French, Italian, German, and Russian. She attended Moscow University in 1976 and graduated cum laude from Colgate University in 1978. She began her career as an Assistant Director to the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. From 1984-1991 she was the Artistic Director of the Skylight Music Theater. She has been guest professor at Harvard and Berkeley Universities. She lives in New York and London.

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- Set and Costume Designer

The Little Prince is the last finished project designed by the late Maria Bjørnson who unexpectedly passed away in December. She designed extensively for theatre, opera, and ballet and was the recipient of several international awards. She is best known for designing Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera, for which she won two Tony Awards, Drama Desk and two Drama Critic’s awards. Her opera credits included Don Giovanni, Sleeping Beauty, Katya Kabanova, and Der Rosenkavalier for Royal Opera House; Macbeth at La Scala; The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in Paris, Florence, and Genoa; Così fan tutte in Glyndebourne; Le nozze de Figaro in Geneva; Carmen and Die Walküre for English National Opera; The Queen of Spades for Netherlands Opera; Werther for Opera North; Don Giovanni, Hansel and Gretel, and Die Meistersinger for Scottish Opera, among others. Her theater credits include The Cherry Orchard (Royal National Theatre), Measure for Measure, The Blue Angel, Camille, Hamlet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Way of the World (Royal Shakespeare Company), Plenty, Phèdre, Britannicus, The Lulu Plays, Creditors (Almeida), Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (Lyric Shaftesbury Avenue), The Lonely Road (Old Vic), Hedda Gabler (Duke of York’s Theatre) and Antony and Cleopatra (Globe Theatre). In 1999, Ms. Bjørnson was awarded the nineteenth Franco Abbiato Prize in recognition of her contributions to theater design. Other honors include an Olivier Award nomination for Britannicus/Phèdre.

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- Librettist

Nicholas Wright’s plays include Vincent in Brixton (Olivier Award for Best New Play 2003), and Mrs Klein, both at the National Theatre, in the West End and in New York; Treetops and One Fine Day at Riverside Studios; The Gorky Brigade at the Royal Court; The Crimes of Vautrin for Joint Stock; The Custom of the Country and The Desert Air for the RSC and Cressida for the Almeida in 2000. His play The Reporter opened at the National Theatre in February 2007. Adaptations: His Dark Materials, Three Sisters and John Gabriel Borkman for the National; Thérèse Raquin at Chichester and the National Theatre and Naked and Lulu at the Almeida. Screenplays include adaptations of novels by Patrick Hamilton, Doris Lessing, Josef Skvorecky, Armistead Maupin and Ford Madox Ford. He wrote the libretti for Rachel Portman’s opera The Little Prince (Houston Grand Opera, 2003) and for Jonathan Dove’s television-opera about the Apollo 11 moon landing, Man on the Moon. (Rose d’Or opera special prize 2007) His writing about the theatre includes 99 Plays, a personal view of playwriting from Aeschylus to the present day and Changing Stages, a view of British theatre in the Twentieth Century, co-written with Richard Eyre.

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