Diana Kienast

Born in Vienna, Austria, as a descendent of the eighteenth-century musicians family von Benda, Diana Kienast’s interest in theatre and music began to arise early. After studies of art, history and languages at the Universities of Vienna and Madrid, she eventually decided to focus on opera. After some internships she was engaged as an assistant director at the Vienna Volksoper and from there was called in the same position to the Vienna State Opera four years later.  Since 1991 she was leading the scenic department of the Vienna State Opera.

In addition to her assistantships, she oversaw the repertoire performances with a continuing effort to maintain the artistic level in the scenic area as high as possible. Diana Kienast was responsible for numerous new productions, revivals and occasional acquisitions of productions from other houses.

Her responsibilities included not only the scenic rehearsals, the preparation of roles with young singers, recitative and dialogue coaching, the constant and intense communication with the technical departments of the house and lighting, as well as with the costume designers and the make-up, but also the scenic supervision of numerous guest appearances (Japan, China, Italy, Oman, etc.) and the direction of conferred productions (Tokyo: “L ‘Italiana in Algeri”, “Don Giovanni”, Athens: “L’ Italiana in Algeri”). She also taught the subject “scenic design” at the Opera School.

Diana Kienast has collaborated with well-known directors such as Otto Schenk, Jean Pierre Ponnelle, Giorgio Strehler, Götz Friedrich, Ruth Berghaus, Pierre Luigi Pizzi, Johannes Schaaf, Alfred Kirchner, Peter Wood, Antoine Vitez, Istvan Szabo, Giancarlo Menotti, Ken Russell, Luca Ronconi, Harold Prince, Leopold Lindtberg, Jürgen Flimm, August Everding, and many others; as well as with conductors such as e.g. Erich Leinsdorf, Ernst Märzendorfer, Christoph von Dohnany, Zubin Meta, Heinrich Hollreiser, Leopold Hager, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Donald Runnicles, Bertrand de Billy, et al.

Own directings at the Vienna State Opera

„The Magic Flute for Children“, 2003
Opening of the Vienna Opera Ball, 2006
„Bastien und Bastienne“, 2006
Open Day Vienna State Opera, 2007

Other directings

„The Fall of The House of Usher“, Vienna Chamber Opera
“Le nozze di Figaro”, Vienna Chamber Opera
„Il Viaggio a Reims“, Berliner Philharmonie
„Die Fledermaus“, 2nd act with guests, Opening Vienna Festival
„Die Fledermaus“, Staatsoper Temesvar
„Fledermaus Gala“, Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rom
“The Magic Flute for Children”, San Francisco, Yokohama
“The Magic Flute”, Tel Aviv
„Die Merry Widow“: arrangement of the libretto, e.g. for the German TV-station „mdr“, et. al.

Diana Kienast retired from the Vienna State Opera in November 2013 and is now working as a freelance stage director, teacher and coach.

Recipient of the Decoration of Merit in Gold of the Republic of Austria


L’italiana in Algeri (WA)

“[…] But one must say that obviously the preparation for repertoire-series is done very well at the house: four of the seven performers interpret in Vienna for the first time […] and all have been perfectly introduced to the staging so that it has not lost any of its not at all easy structure of strange body language: probably one should once again praise Diana Kienast as the director, to let the people “behind the scenes” know that one knows their part in the success of such an evening. […]” – Der Neue Merker, Renate Wagner

Bastien and Bastienne

“[…] A sleek American cars drives up, gift packages roll around on stage, and later sheep will hop around here, butterflies flutter, glitterfish glide and monsters open their jaws – in the new production of Mozart’s Singspiel “Bastien and Bastienne”, Diana Kienast (director) and Dietrich von Grebmer (stage setting ) did not skimp on ideas. […] Kienast manages the connection of fairytale and zeitgeisty elements.” – Die Presse

The Fall of the House of Usher

“[…] because the director Diana Kienast has dropped any narrative ballast, she lays out each scenic action – […] as a shadow play of emotions. Atmosphere is all, action nothing in this chamber of horrors of emotions […] Diana Kienast has fully embarked on the music by Philip Glass which flows from the orchestra pit like bitter sweet poison of doom. With minimal, however intense images she has scenically doubled the enervating sound once more. […]” – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wolfgang Sandner, 08.10.1990

“[…] The „studio K“-production is a coup, successful right down to the last detail. Director Diana Kienast ensured a profound guidance of people and continuous suspense, skilfully avoids any cheap and lurid effect (incest) in this gruesome musical theatre. […] “The Fall of the House of Usher” is definitely one of the most successful “studio K”-productions that has ever existed in the chamber opera. […]” – Wiener Zeitung, H.G. Pribil, 29.09.1990

The Journey to Reims

“[…] Diana Kienast directs with spare means in the most loving, most graceful way of directing, and this quite excellently: easy, without any hint of directorial pomposity, funny and entertaining. The audience is full of happiness. This is how you honour Rossini in the most appropriate way. […]” – Berliner Morgenpost, Klaus Geitel, 16.10.1992

“[…] But here a servant fell on the harpsichordist and kissed him subito and fortissimo the forehead moist, and the production team (Diana Kienast, Rolf Long Barrel, John Burgess) actually succeeded in attuning the soloists and the Rundfunkchor Berlin to those palpabilities of the Commedia dell’arte-game that repeatedly animated the evening in a funny way. […]” – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – Wolfgang Burde

Languages: German, English, Italian and Spanish

For request concerning direction, scenic design, coachings for auditions, dialogue (German), recitatives (Italian), interpretation and role-making, please contact:

Fanny Jacobson, BA MAS