Sad news: Death of a popular opera director, 45

Sad news: Death of a popular opera director, 45


norman lebrecht

August 06, 2017

Musicians are reporting the death of the British opera director, Lee Blakeley.

Lee was a regular at Santa Fe Opera, where his US career took off. He gave the French premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George at the Theatre du Chatelet.

He worked extensively at Glyndebourne, Covent Garden, ENO and Scottish Opera, as well as Wexford, Canadian Opera and Minnesota.

The Icelandic tenor Ólafur E Rúnarsson writes: ‘He had a huge impact on me when we worked together in the RSAMD. During the production of La Calisto in 2002 I was kicked off my bike and broke my leg quite seriously (not during a rehearsal) and couldn’t take part in the show. Lee was the first to visit me in the hospital with chocolate, soft drinks, his warmth and compassion. The following weeks he advised me about criminal benefit compensation and many other things, helpful for a foreigner on his own. This I will never forget. I send my deepest condolences to his family and friends.’

UPDATE: Lee died on Friday from a sudden condition.

FIRST Obituaries: Opera News and Daily Telegraph.



  • Carole Wilson says:

    He was a great friend and a wonderful colleague. I will miss him very much.

    • Natasha Jouhl says:

      I’m so sad to hear about the death of Lee Blakeley. He was a director I loved to work with and I have so many memories of wonderful productions that he was involved in. He truly brought out the best in everyone he worked with. I will miss him hugely and I’m so thankful to have known such a great person.
      Natasha Jouhl

    • Giselle Allen says:

      I thought if you Carole when I heard.Still hard to believe, so sorry for your loss.

  • Is it appropriate to attach this laughing photo as a footnote to his tragic early death?

  • Simon Funnell says:

    Surely it’s better to remember someone laughing and happy. That’s how I’d want to be remembered however sudden my death.

    • You are right.

      But I must say it was really weird for me to see this title image and then read the title which begins with “sad news: death …”

      • AMetFan says:

        Hmmm…I kept re-reading your posts to detect any expression of condolence. I guess we all have our priorities. May this talented gentleman rest in peace. His short life was well lived.

  • Lee was such a talented and lovely person, and his passing at such a young age is a tragedy. He will be deeply missed.

  • Johan says:

    Lee was brilliant and a formidable joyous man. The news is devastating to his friends and in particular to the Santa Fe Opera family of which he was a part. Whether bringing to life characters and context in a work or being excited about the new kitten addition to thd family he radiated genuine warmth and life. He will be very much missed now and always.