The common thread of Frédéric Roels‘ career is the constant link between text and music. His career as a director and playwright oscillates between theatre, music, and opera.
After studying at INSAS in Brussels, theater section, he founded his company, Prospéro & Cie, for which he directed various plays: Prospéro, suite after La Tempête (Shakespeare), Sacre (Charles Plisnier), Aglavaine and Sélysette (Maeterlinck), Les Suppliantes (Aeschylus), Kinderzimmer (Gilles Boulan).
At the Opéra Royal de Wallonie, he assisted Claire Servais on most of her productions from 1995 to 2008: L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Madama Butterfly, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Brundibar, Andrea Chénier, Suor Angelica. He also wrote the dramaturgy for La Favorite and Orphée aux Enfers. In 2000, he staged, at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Hygiène de l’assassin (Amélie Nothomb – Daniel Schell), a show which was then repeated in Liège, Brussels, and Namur. Then in 2002, The Diary of a Disappeared (Janacek), and in 2006 The Love Sabotage (Amélie Nothomb – Daniel Schell). In 2007, he staged The Turn of the Screw (Britten) at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie, revived in September 2011 at the Opéra de Rouen Normandie.
As a lighting designer, he designed the lights for most of his theatrical shows as well as those of Riders to the Sea (Vaughan Williams) at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. From 2003 to 2009, he was a playwright attached to the Opéra Royal de Wallonie. He is the author of numerous articles for concert or opera programs, and several texts or adaptations for opera, theater, and dance.
From October 2009 to September 2017, Frédéric Roels was the artistic and general director of the Opéra de Rouen Normandie. Attached to the development and influence of the Norman house, he created upon his arrival a company of four young opera singers. He also renewed and reinforced the missions of the two ensembles in residence, Accentus, the vocal ensemble of Laurence Equilbey which also fulfills the role of opera choir, and Le Poème Harmonique by Vincent Dumestre.
The first in France to have invited participatory opera as defined and created in Italy by AsLiCo, he has made it the spearhead of his project for young audiences, resuming a number of shows already staged and participating in creations and new productions. Wishing to extend the concept to symphonic music, in 2013 he set up a “symphonic quiz”, an interactive concert featuring an orchestra, its conductor, and a presenter who, through large scores and in a spirit of dialogue and discovery, make classical music accessible to as many people as possible in a fun and respectful way.
Continuing his activity as a director and author in Rouen, during the 2010-2011 season, he directed and wrote the libretto of L’homme qui s’efface, a world premiere with music by Pascal Charpentier. In October 2012 he staged Carmen, with Vivica Genaux in the title role on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Théâtre des Arts in Rouen, a show co-produced with the Opéra de Limoges and performed during the 17-18 season by the Opera Lombardia circuit in Italy, and La Damnation de Faust for the Rouen and Limoges operas.
He also wrote the libretto for a world premiere composed by Michel Fourgon on the fascinating and tragic character of Lolo Ferrari. Created in March 2013, this production was a highlight of the Normandy Opera season. In 2014, he signed a new production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach, a co-production between the Opéra de Rouen Normandie and AsLiCo, which had 17 performances in Rouen, Versailles, Pavia, Brescia, Jesi, Cremona, and Como.
In 2016, he approaches Mozart with Don Giovanni, presented in Rouen and Versailles, then Così fan tutte, co-produced by the Operas of Rouen, Massy, and Reims. In October 2017, his staging of Norma concluded his career in Rouen. It was revived in February 2018 at the Royal Opera House Muscat (Sultanate of Oman), co-producer of the show. In January 2019, he co-signed with Claire Servais the staging of La Bohème at the Opéra Grand Avignon.
In 2018 and 2019, Frédéric Roels was director of artistic operations at the Royal Opera House Muscat (Sultanate of Oman).
In December 2019, Frédéric Roels was appointed director of Opéra Grand Avignon. In 2020-21, he directed Don Giovanni [THE FILM] by Mozart, created during the first health crisis and broadcast on France 3, Culture Box, and at the Capitole Studio cinema – Le Pontet.
In October 2021, he signed the staging of Peter Grimes by Britten on the occasion of the reopening of the Opéra Grand Avignon, which will be revived at the Théâtre de Trèves in April/May 2023 (Germany). Most recently, he staged the world premiere of Three Lunar Seas, an opera by Joséphine Stephenson in Avignon (May 2023).
In May 2024, he will present the staging of a new production by Luisa Miller of Verdi, co-produced with the Teatro Sociale di Como-AsLiCo, the Opéra de Tours, the Teatr Wielki-Opera de Poznan, and the Slaska Opera Bytom.