Willy Decker is one of today’s most renowned, and successful, international stage-directors of opera. Several of his productions have acquired 'cult' status, most recently, his interpretation of “La Traviata” for the Salzburg Festival. Created in 2005, together with his long-time designer, Wolfgang Gussmann, the Salzburg “Traviata” starred Anna Netrebko in the title role.
Adaptations or co-productions of his works are much sought after by opera houses around the globe. The afore-mentioned “La Traviata”, for example, has already been performed at the Metropolitan Opera New York and at the Netherlands Opera in several revivals. Furthermore, rentals of "Peter Grimes" in Tokyo, "The Flying Dutchman" in Turin, "Don Carlo" in Warsaw, "Werther" in Madrid, "Die tote Stadt" in London, and many more, have all attracted much critical acclaim. In the 2013/14 season Willy Decker will create a new production of Monteverdi’s "Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria" for the Opera House in Zurich.
In 2011, Willy Decker’s three years as Artistic Director of the Ruhrtriennale Festival ended with a new production of “Tristan und Isolde”. The festival, which has quickly developed into one of Europe's most adventurous and highly-regarded, opened in August 2009, with Decker's sensational production of “Moses und Aron”.
After leaving school, Willy Decker studied violin, and then musicology, German philology und philosophy at the Albertus-Magnus-University in Cologne. His broad education also included voice lessons from the famous baritone Josef Metternich. At the age of 22, he was hired as an assistant stage director, at the theatre in Essen, before joining the opera house in Cologne, where he assisted such established directors as Hans Neugebauer, Harry Kupfer, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and Michael Hampe. In 1986, he was appointed principal resident stage-director in Cologne.
He began to produce his own work, in 1978, and soon came to international attention with his production of the world premiere of Hans Werner Henze‘s “Pollicino“ at the Cantiere Internationale d'Arte in Montepulciano. The world premiere of Antonio Bibalo’s opera “Macbeth” followed, in Oslo, and his reputation was already firmly established by the time he came to produce the world premiere of Aribert Reimann’s “Das Schloß“ at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, in 1991.
Willy Decker has worked at all major German opera houses, as well as at the Vienna State Opera, the French National Opera in Paris, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, the Chicago Lyric Opera and the opera houses of Brussels, Amsterdam, Geneva, Madrid and Barcelona. Besides his work for the Salzburg Festival, he has produced important work for two other renowned festivals, Il Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Sweden's Drottningholm Festival.
Willy Decker has received many awards for his work including the order of merit from the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen and, in France, he has been made "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres". Since 2005 Willy Decker holds a music-theatre professorship at the Hanns-Eisler-University in Berlin.