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Annabel Arden’s distinguished career encompasses opera, theatre and broadcasting as well as acting and devising new work. In 1983 Annabel was a co-founder of the renowned Theatre de Complicité.

In the 2020/21 season, Annabel made her debut at the Schaubühne, Berlin co-directing - with Simon McBurney - a new adaption of the Kleist novel Michael Kohlhaas and she stepped behind the Camera to direct a film of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale for the Hallé Orchestra with Sir Mark Elder. In future seasons, Annabel will return to the Glyndebourne Festival and Opera North and she will direct productions for Opéra de Montpelier; Malmö Opera and the Royal Danish Opera, Copenhagen.

In recent seasons, Annabel has directed Carmen for the Grange Festival; acclaimed concert stagings of Turandot and Aida and fully staged productions of Osud (Janacek) and L’enfant et les sortilèges for Opera North; Turandot at the Coliseu dos Recruits, for the Teatro Sao Carlos, Lisbon and her productions of L'elisir d'amore and Il barbiere di Siviglia have been revived for both the Glyndebourne Tour and Festival.

In the 2015/16 season, Annabel Arden directed an acclaimed new production of Andrea Chénier for Opera North - winner of “Best Opera Production” at the Manchester Theatre Awards - and the first new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Glyndebourne Festival in over 30 years, of which The Independent wrote: “With the aid of a posse of Indiarubber mime artists, and drawing on her physical- theatre background with Complicité, she pulls off trick after trick with such speed and deftness that the eye is constantly delighted and dazzled, but it’s all in the service of a convincing reading of the text and a triumphant celebration of Rossini’s musical genius.”

In the United Kingdom, Annabel has directed Cafe Kafka and The Commission for the Royal Opera House; L’elisir d’amore, Gianni Schicci and The Miserly Knight for the Glyndebourne Festival; The Rake’s Progress for English National Opera and La bohème for Welsh National Opera. She has enjoyed a long association with Opera North, for whom she has directed La Traviata, Die Zauberflöte, The Cunning Little Vixen and Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria.

Abroad she has directed The Cunning Little Vixen for the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; L’elisir d’amore for the Houston Grand Opera; Beethoven’s Leonore in New York, London and Salzburg; Faust in Lucerne; and Der Zwerg for the Maggio Musicale, Firenze and the Teatro Regio, Torino.

Annabel directed The Soldier’s Tale with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Pierre Boulez; she has directed concert performances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski, and she directed and narrated Jurowski’s farewell concert of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Glyndebourne in 2013.

Annabel has directed plays for the National Theatre, Royal Court, Almeida Theatre, BBC, Sydney Theatre Company and for Theatre de Complicité of which she remains an Associate Artist.

Annabel Arden graduated from Cambridge University, and trained with Lecoq in Paris. 

Biography not for publication, for an up to date version please contact Oliver Clarke.


“By hiring Annabel Arden to direct the two works in tandem, Glyndebourne may have pulled a master stroke: apart from Richard Jones, no other director has a track record to compare with hers, for sheer political engagement and unfettered originality!"The Independent
“Arden’s blending of the realistic and the conceptual makes for an intellectually stimulating as well as an effective production of Carmen, while her exploration of the gender, class and racial politics underlying the action is focused and thought-provoking.” The Stage
“Fresh, open and heartfelt, Annabel Arden’s lovely new production of La Bohème is marked by a filmic fluidity and simplicity. There are no tricks, nothing seems faux or grafted. But Arden’s unassertive direction makes the joy and disillusion of these young people real and their tragedy immediate.”
The Daily Telegraph
"The spectacle enables us to focus on the fine detail of Annabel Arden's direction. La Traviata suffers from some terribly contrived lurches in narrative, but Arden invests everything with truthful clarity!"The Guardian
"Do not miss it. Even if you have never seen an opera before, or think that you could not possibly enjoy listening to something sung in Italian (with surtitles, of course), this "L'elisir d'amore" will work wonders."The Express
"Annabel Arden's career as an actor-director has been triumphs all the way. The first of these was Théâtre de Complicité's National Theatre version of Dürrenmatt's The Visit; and the second its hallucinatory realisation of Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles. On the strength of her Complicité take on The Winter's Tale, she was drawn into the world of opera, first with Opera North, then with English National Opera, for whom she created the first Rake's Progress to stand comparison with the seemingly unbeatable production designed by David Hockney. This wild- haired earth-mother's shows may provoke dissent, but her street-cred is formidable.”The Independent
"This is Opera North at its imaginative and resourceful best – a thrilling evening that richly deserved its enthusiastic reception!”The Daily Telegraph
"Annabel Arden, co-founder of Complicite, is at the helm of this spirited Opera North production and particularly secure in her direction of a callous beau monde – a salon with a touch of the grotesque! But Arden keeps her cool and ends decisively, understanding the simple power of turned backs as the unlucky couple leave the audience and their lives and walk off stage.”The Guardian