Nigel Redden, photographed by Leigh Webber. Courtesy Spoleto USA
General director of Spoleto Festival USA since 1995 and, for two decades (1998-2017), the director of the Lincoln Center Festival, Nigel Redden has an internationalist's point of view on the arts—expansive, curious, informed by the cultural wealth that the world has to offer.
He is the son of an American diplomat and grew up moving from place to place—Cyprus, Israel, Canada, Italy—until eventually setting of for Yale to study Art History. After visiting the Spoleto festival in Italy as a young man, and working there while he was still an undergraduate, he very quickly realized what he wanted to: direct festivals. And that's what he has done for most of the last quarter century.
Kanze Noh Theatre performed at Lincoln Center Festival in 2016. Photo courtesy Lincoln Center
It came as a big surprise last fall to learn that Lincoln Center Festival would cease to exist, effectively immediately. The announcement came on the heels of a summer featuring one of the festival's biggest triumphs: four days of performances in which Paris Opéra Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and New York City Ballet danced Balanchine's Jewels side by side. What other New York institution could pull off such a thing?
A torrent of energy, he took command of the stage the second he entered. He exuded an over-the-top virility that was perfect for the role of Petruchio in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Taming of the Shrew. With outsized swagger, swiping and swatting Katharina, he matched her obstreperousness with his own. With his suspenders half down and his shirt half hanging out, he struck a charismatic (if violent) figure.