Elijah Moshinsky, refugee who became a celebrated opera and theatre director – obituary


He had been there only a few months when the sets from the original production of Peter Grimes were found to have vanished from a store in Oxfordshire. A new staging was urgently required and Moshinsky stepped forward with a low-cost version that may not have pleased the composer, but which was a critical success. It was later taken to La Scala, Milan, and was still being revived 20 years later.

His first venture into London theatre, Thomas Bernhard’s comedy The Force of Habit at the Lyttleton, was not a success and closed after six performances. He retreated into opera, winning Society of West End Theatre awards for Lohengrin (1978) and The Rake’s Progress (1979), making his debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in 1980 with Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera starring Pavarotti, and directing several productions for Opera Australia. Meanwhile, Jonathan Miller brought him into television to direct a Shakespeare series, including Cymbeline with Helen Mirren, for which he drew on his love of Renaissance paintings.

It was not until 1987 that Moshinsky truly re-established himself in the theatre with a production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters for Greenwich Theatre that transferred to the West End. In 1995 he directed Lord of the Flies at in Stratford-upon-Avon with 33 boys aged between 11 and 15, recalling with some alarm how they took naturally to the play’s subject matter, and in 1999 he directed Robert Lindsay in Richard III for the Royal Shakespeare Company.


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