«Lukas Hemleb seems never to be at the point where you expect him to be» said a newspaper article about him some years ago. From the very beginning of his theater work he is attracted by music and poetry. Research on various cultural backgrounds is what characterizes his work over two decades. Born near Frankfurt in Germany he began to train in theater right after school and made his debut as a director by 1985, in Germany, Belgium and France. In his early years as a director, he travelled to Cameroon and Nigeria to realize experimental theater projects with African artists.
In 1992 he moved to France where he soon started to be known for his work off the beaten track, developing his projects in theaters such as Odéon – Théâtre de l’Europe, La Comédie-Française, MC 93 de Bobigny, Théâtre de Gennevilliers, TGP in St Denis, Théâtre de la Ville, Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne in Switzerland, and at the Burgtheater in Vienna/Austria.
His work covers a wide range of authors and themes, from ancient verse to contemporary literature — Dante, Shakespeare, Molière, but also Daniil Charms, Osip Mandelstam and Marina Cvetaeva, and living playwrights: Gregory Motton and Simon Stephens amongst many others. His version of Shakespeare’s « Titus Andronicus » in 2003 was seen in three different theaters in Paris and all over France. The experimental play « Figure » about the painter Francis Bacon was produced in Lausanne and toured in France and Canada. In 2003 he produced Feydeau’s comedy « Le Dindon » at the Comédie-Française. This production has been broadcasted in French and German television (Arte, France 3, Télé 7). Again at the Comédie-Française, in 2007, he staged his vision of « Le Misanthrope ». This production has been toured all over France and has also been shown at the Festival de Otoño in Madrid. In 2009 he worked with the Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre, to direct Marina Tsvetaeva’s « федра» (Phaidra) », in Russian, produced by the Chekhov International Theatre Festival. In 2014 he directed Jon Fosse’s « Je suis le vent/Io sono il vento » in both french and italian, presented and produced by Maison de la Culture d’Amiens and Emilia Romagna Teatro in Modena and Bologna.
In Opera his repertory ranges from contemporary compositions to great popular operas by Verdi and Mozart. He also focused on Baroque repertoire such as Alessandro Scarlatti’s « Telemaco », Haendel’s « Ariodante », and Agostino Steffani’s « Niobe, regina di Tebe ». Present at major opera theaters in Europe, his productions could be seen in London (Covent Garden), Lisbon (Teatro São Carlo), Vienna (Theater an der Wien), Paris (Théâtre des Champs-Elysées), Madrid (Teatro Real), Geneva (Grand Théâtre), and at the Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence.
In parallel he explored for many years the Chinese and Taiwanese culture collaborating with artists practicing traditional art and music. « The Luo River Goddess » was created in Taipei and was performed at the Forbidden City in Beijing after a tour in Paris and all over France. The Nanguan chamber opera « Feather » was created in Taipei and invited to the New Vision Arts Festival in Hongkong. He also directed a contemporary opera by Gordon Chin: « The Black Bearded Bible Man » at the National Theater in Taipei.
In 2014, began his collaboration with the german artist Alexander Polzin, for « Lohengrin » at the Teatro Real in Madrid and in 2015 for Gluck’s « Iphigénie en Tauride » at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. In 2016 he engaged successful collaborations with video maker Luca Scarzella for « Tosca » and with set and lighting designer Gianni Carluccio for Meyerbeer’s « Les Huguenots », both in Kiel, Germany. In June he was invited again to Geneva, to direct Verdi’s « Falstaff ».
In 2017 he will continue his collaboration with Asian artists, directing the Taiwanese Yi Xin Opera Company for a musical adaptation of a Marivaux comedy: « Le jeu de l’amour et du hasard » that will be performed in Taipei’s historical Zhong Shan Tang Theater in September during the Taipei Arts Festival. In 2019, in collaboration with composer Yuval Avital, the contemporary opera « Compound Eye Man », based on his adaptation of a novel by Taiwanese writer Wu Ming-Yi will be part of the opening productions of the new built Taipei Performing Arts Center.