Renato Zanella, the internationally acclaimed Verona-born choreographer, took over as artistic director of ballet at the Ljubljana national opera and ballet company on 1 January, having headed several European ballet ensembles, including Vienna’s. Trained in Verona and Cannes, Zanella was a dancer with Basel Ballet between 1982 and 1985 before joining the Stuttgart Ballet, where he was appointed resident choreographer in 1993.
It was there that his international career took off as he created choreographies for many acclaimed ballet ensembles, including those of the national ballet companies in Vienna, Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Berlin, Stockholm, Budapest, Rome and San Francisco.
Between 1995 and 2005 Zanella was ballet director and principal choreographer of the Wiener Staatsoper where he presented close to forty own choreographies, including Aschenbrödel (Cinderella) to the music by Johann Strauss, Wolfgang Amadée to the music by Mozart and Salieri, Ravel’s Bolero, Le Sacre du Printemps by Stravinsky, The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky and Khachaturian’s Spartacus.
In a press release the Ljubljana ballet house noted that during his spell in Vienna Zanella transformed the ensemble into a collective that could engage its dancers in the most demanding roles in productions by the greatest choreographers.
“Ballet lovers appreciated his exceptional sense of striking the right balance between the classical repertoire, his own creations, and the new classical repertoire,” reads the release.
It also notes that Zanella offered opportunities to the young and devoted much of his attention to education of new generations of dancers at the Staatsoper Ballet Academy, which he headed from 2001 to 2005.
In 2011-2015 he served as artistic director of ballet at the Greek National Ballet and Opera in Athens, in 2013-2015 he held the same position at the Fondazione Arena di Verona and in 2016-2017 he was artistic ballet director at the Bucharest National Opera. Since 2018 he has been heading the department of choreography at the Music School in St Pölten, Austria.
In 2009 Zanella ventured into a new field by staging operas. His first project, Cosi Fan Tutte, was performed at the Attersee Klassik-Festival and with critical acclaim. He went on to direct several more operas.
He was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art in 2001, among other accolades.
Zanella succeeded Petar Đorčevski as artistic director of Ljubljana Ballet.
Photos by Renato Zanella Archiv