J A M E S   B O N A S

T H E A T R E   A N D   O P E R A   D I R E C T O R



“It’s a tribute to Bonas’s direction that all these influences come together so brilliantly and subversively: a multi-layered drama of identity and obsession disguised as terrific fun... This production is exuberant with its ideas, frequently magical to look at, and deeply rooted both in the imaginative world of the real Hoffmann and Offenbach’s glittering, endlessly inventive score.”

The Arts Desk, Tales of Hoffmann, ETO


Having gained a first class honours degree from Oxford in psychology and philosophy and performed as a classical pianist, James trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, prior to developing a career as a director in theatres and opera houses around the world. Interests vary from classical theatre and contemporary opera to innovation in the use of video design and animation working with 59 Productions and Finn Ross amongst others. Recent work has taken James from the Metropolitan Opera to Los Angeles Opera, from the Hong Kong International Festival to Teatro Real Madrid, and from the Spoleto Festival in Charleston to the National Theatres in London and Seoul.




Projects in 2015-16 included a critically acclaimed The Tales of Hoffmann for English Touring Opera, Ariodante for the London Handel Festival and (as associate to Rufus Norris) Wonder.land for the National Theatre in London and the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. The 2016-17 Season sees a new production of Ravel’s L'Enfant et les sortilèges for Opéra de Lyon, in an innovative production conceived around animator Grégoire Pont’s projections.

Recent productions include Giove in Argo for the London Handel Festival 2015, Jessica Swale’s play Blue Stockings for Babcock Theatre Utah, Ravel’s L’heure espagnole / L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and the UK premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Seven Angels for the Royal College of Music and The Mikado and Hänsel and Gretel tours for Co-Opera Company.


As associate director James has regularly worked alongside directors including Rufus Norris, Terry Gilliam, Tom Morris and Simon McBurney in projects including The Death of Klinghoffer (ENO and the Metropolitan Opera), A Dog’s Heart (Complicité) and Benvenuto Cellini for ENO, Hänsel und Gretel for Glyndebourne and Teatro Real Madrid and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Bristol Old Vic and world tour. Other work includes the world premiere of Damon Albarn’s first opera Dr Dee for Manchester International Festival and ENO, The Damnation of Faust, The Magic Flute, Tosca and La Clemenza di Tito for ENO, Pinocchio and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Opera North and Minnesota Opera, Don Carlos and Roméo et Juliette for LA Opera and Carmen Jones for the Royal Festival Hall.