EMINENT PERSIANS: Opera Director Lotfi Mansouri and Shahbanou Farah (1970's)


EMINENT PERSIANS: Opera Director Lotfi Mansouri and Shahbanou Farah (1970's)
by Darius Kadivar

Iranian-born opera director and manager Lotfi Mansouri was General Director of the Canadian Opera Company and of the San Francisco Opera from 1988 through 2001. In 1992 he became a Chevalier of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and the subject of a 1998 biography. He introduced opera surtitles — projected subtitles above the stage that allow the audience to follow the libretto during the performance.

He was born in Tehran, Iran, the son of Hassan and Mehri (Jalili) Mansouri. He married Marjorie Anne Thompson, Sept. 18, 1954; he has a daughter Shireen Melinda. Mansouri studied psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (A.B., 1953) and was assistant professor there (1957–60). He began his directorial career with a production of Cosi fan tutte at Los Angeles City College, and several musical theater productions at Marymount College. From 1960 to 1966, he worked as a resident stage director at the Zurich Opera. In his first year there, he staged new productions of Amahl and the Night Visitors, La traviata, Don Pasquale, and Samson et Dalila. From 1966 through 1976 he worked as the head stage director at the Geneva Opera. Throughout this period, he occasionally worked at numerous U.S. opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera and many smaller companies.

Among his productions available on DVD, are La fille du régiment (with Beverly Sills, 1974) and L'africaine (with Shirley Verrett and Plácido Domingo, 1988).

Canadian Opera Company

From 1971 through 1988 Mansouri worked as the general director of the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. Mansouri introduced supertitles for the January 1983 staging of Elektra, and this is generally regarded as the first use of such a translation system.

San Francisco Opera

In 1988, Mansouri become the fourth general director of the San Francisco Opera, replacing Terence A. McEwen.

Mansouri lead the company in commissioning several new works which have received critical acclaim, including John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer (1992), Conrad Susa's The Dangerous Liaisons (Fall 1994), Stewart Wallace's Harvey Milk (1996) (co-commissioned with Houston Grand Opera and New York City Opera), André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire (Fall 1998), and Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking (Fall 2000). This move has helped build the house's reputation as one of the leading innovators in the United States, a reputation which is still held today.

Towards the end of the 2001 season, Mansouri announced his resignation and was succeeded by Pamela Rosenberg, formerly of the Stuttgart Opera

Plácido Domingo - Meyerbeer - L'Africaine - Pays merveilleux!...O paradis From the 1988 San Francisco Opera production by Lotfi Mansouri, conducted by Maurizio Arena. Vasco da Gamma's aria from Act IV:

1988 San Francisco Opera Placido Domingo & Ruth Ann Swenson sing Libiamo and Lotfi Mansouri:


Related Blogs:

EMINENT PERSIANS: Poetess Parvin E'tesami Greets Iran's Crown Prince at Library (1940's)

Eminent Persians: Mahnaz Afkhami International Women's Conference in Mexico City (1975)

EMINENT PERSIANS: Sahab Ekhtiar Qajar Minister and Constitutionalist


Official Website of Lotfi Mansouri Here   


more from Darius Kadivar

Dear Darius:

by Monda on

Would you happen to know of Lotfi Mansouri's state of health or whereabouts? Last I heard he was working and living in Canada. 

His website contains his latest productions, however without complete dates (years are missing!). I wonder if his new productions would visit his SF home.


Darius Kadivar

Azarin Jaan Your Most Welcome

by Darius Kadivar on

Lucky Girl.

I would have loved to see one of his Operas Live especially with the Great Placido Domingo.



Azarin Sadegh

Merry widow at LA Opera

by Azarin Sadegh on

Thank you so much Darius for this Opera blog!

As you might know, I am so crazy about Opera! I was lucky to attend one of Mansouri's productions at LA Opera two years ago: The Merry Widow by Franz Lehar, and it was a great experience, especially by the presence of Placido Domingo sitting not too far from us!!

Lotfi Mansouri is definitely among my most favorite eminent Iranians and we all should be very proud of him.

Darius Kadivar

Farhad Meshkaat

by Darius Kadivar on

No idea, Ebi Jaan.

I think he immigrated to the US after the Revolution but don't know if he continued to work or took his retirement.

Red Wine


by Red Wine on

I still remember him at Prince Felipe's wedding ... he was so drunk and poor Caroline said to him,is good for him to stay at Palace Hotel. hahaha

ebi amirhosseini

Darius Jaan

by ebi amirhosseini on

Sepaas for sharing the info.

Do you have any idea,where Farhad Meshkaat is?.

Ebi aka Haaji

Darius Kadivar

Your Right The Prince of Honover is a total Wreck

by Darius Kadivar on

He is always getting into fights with reporters and apparently totally uncontrolable.

German Blood I tell You ;0)



Red Wine


by Red Wine on

Well well ... I don't this man ... he is always drunk and bothering reporters.

Thank you a lot Dariush jan for this fresh news :=) .

Darius Kadivar

Red wine Jaan : Maryam Sachs ( Banihashem)

by Darius Kadivar on

Your welcome My Friend.

No the alledged rumor of a Romance between Iranian photographer publisher Maryam Sachs and the Prince of Honover was Officially denied by Maryam and her Swiss German husband in last week's Point De Vue issue:


Maryam Sachs maiden name is Maryam Banihashem and she is indeed a friend or acquaintance of Her Majesty.

She published the Book: "Persia From Above" :


Warm Regards,



Red Wine


by Red Wine on

Very intresting and goof info.Thank you Darius jan.

By the way,I heard prince of Hanover is divorcing now and he was dating to a friend of Queen Farah,is this true, any news about it ?