Julie Taymor is an Academy Award-nominated director, known for such films as Frida (2002) and Across the Universe (2007).
She was born on December 15, 1952, in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Her father, Melvin Lester Taymor, was a gynecologist. Her mother, Elizabeth Bernstein, was a teacher of political science. Young Taymor was fond of international folklore and mythology, and also developed a passion for theatre. She spent her formative years living in several countries. As a teenager, during the 1960s, she lived in Sri Lanka and India with the Experiment in International Living program, then studied acting in Paris, at the mime school of Jacques Lecoq. From 1969 to 1974, she studied theatre and mythology at Oberlin College, graduating in 1974 with a degree in folklore and mythology.
During the 1970s, Taymor lived in Japan, studying the art of puppetry and Japanese theatre. Then, she spent five years in Indonesia, working as director of international theatre with Asian, European, and American actors. Back in the USA, she worked on and off Broadway. There, she achieved her first success with staging a fairy tale, “The King Stag”, and then toured 66 cities across the world, including Los Angeles, Venice, Tokyo, and Moscow.
In the 1990s, Taymor directed several classic operas. Her 1992 production of Igor Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex” in Japan earned the Emmy Award. Then, she directed the 1993 production of “The Magic Flute” by ‘Wolfgang Mozart’, in Florence, with conductor Zubin Mehta, and the acclaimed 1994 production of “Salome” in St. Petersburg, Russia, with conductor Valery Gergiev.
In New York, she continued a stellar theatrical career, directing such productions as William Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” and “Juan Darién: A Carnival Mass” at the Lincoln Center. In 1997, Taymor directed a massive Walt Disney Company’s production of “The Lion King” on Broadway, for which she also co-designed over a 100 costumes and masks of animals, and earned two Tony Awards.
Her film, Frida (2002), received six Oscar nominations, and two Oscars, for make-up and for the music score by Elliot Goldenthal. Taymor continued her success with the 2004 production of “The Magic Flute” at the Metropolitan Opera (which is now in repertoires at the Met), and the 2006 staging of “Grendel” at the Los Angeles Opera and, later, at the Linolcn Center Festival. Taymor’s experience with cross-genre and cross-cultural productions came to culmination in her latest film, Across the Universe (2007). It is a musical set in the 1960s England, Vietnam, and America, where a love story and social protest are intertwined with over thirty songs by The Beatles.
Outside of her directing profession, Taymor amassed puppets, masks and folk art from around the world. As an artist, she has been involved in making puppets, masks, costumes and stage sets. Since 1980, Julie Taymor has been a long-time collaborator with the Oscar-winning composer, Elliot Goldenthal, and the couple lives in Manhattan.
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