Theatrical and operatic director Thomas Jolly has been appointed as the artistic director of the Paris 2024 Opening and Closing Ceremonies ©Paris Opera

Paris 2024 organisers described their choice of Opening and Closing Ceremony artistic director Thomas Jolly as "creative and daring".

The 40-year-old Jolly, a theatrical and operatic director, has been named to take overall charge of events which are set to begin with an Olympic Opening Ceremony on the banks of the River Seine on July 26.

It is set to be a unique occasion with a record 600,000 spectators watching the French capital’s exceptional heritage showcased around the world with the iconic Seine as a backdrop, rather than the event taking place in a stadium. 

Jolly is regarded as an expert in the performing arts, where the key requirement is to create a strong bond with the audience. 

Paris 2024 and its unique ambition to bring the ceremonies to the heart of the French capital will be a testament to his talent, it is claimed. 

"When I heard about the concept of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games on the Seine, I was struck by the incredible ambition that the Organising Committee had set," Jolly said.

"By opening the Games to as many people as possible, Paris 2024 displays values which I fully recognise. 

"The theatre I advocate is also resolutely open because I am convinced that in our time, we need to project ourselves together towards common ideals."

Paris 2024 plans to stage the Olympic Opening Ceremony on the River Seine ©Paris 2024
Paris 2024 plans to stage the Olympic Opening Ceremony on the River Seine ©Paris 2024

As artistic director, Jolly will be responsible for assembling a multidisciplinary artistic team to produce Opening and Closing Ceremonies for both the Olympics and Paralympics. 

"With the prospect of an extraordinary Opening Ceremony for the first Paralympic Games in France, and the joyful Closing Ceremonies at Stade de France, I am convinced that we can offer the world unique images in 2024," Jolly promised.

"As such, the Ceremonies will be a great opportunity to share a collective narrative, to affirm the possibility of a 'we' in front of nations around the world."

Jolly was born in Rouen and trained in Normandy and Brittany, before he began his career as a director in 2007 by creating his own theatre company, La Piccola Familia.

Since 2020, he has served as the director of the Centre Dramatique National d'Angers. 

His first play, Arlequin Poli par l'Amour de Marivaux, attracted the attention of the public and in 2015 he received the Jean-Jacques Gautier prize, which recognises young French theatre talent.

Acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, Jolly also received the Molière Award, France’s highest theatre honour, for directing a public theatre production in 2015.

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet has hailed the choice of Jolly, who has also produced Avant-garde productions of Shakespeare's history plays, Henry VI and Richard III.

"With his impressive career, Thomas Jolly is at the forefront of the young, creative and ambitious French artistic scene," Estanguet said. 

"His extraordinary shows are proof that he knows how to break norms and take them to the next level."

He predicted that Jolly would imagine "unprecedented artistic concepts" for the Paris 2024 Ceremonies.

But, before turning his attention fully on Paris 2024, Jolly is due in November to present the remake of the legendary musical Starmania. 

In 2023, he is scheduled to stage Romeo and Juliet at the Paris Opera.

The Place de la Concorde is still under consideration for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony while both Closing Ceremonies are set to be held at the Stade de France.

"For Paris 2024, appointing Thomas Jolly as artistic director of the ceremonies is an ambitious choice that is consistent with our vision," Estanguet added. 

The last Olympic Opening Ceremony on French soil was for the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville ©Getty Images
The last Olympic Opening Ceremony on French soil was for the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville ©Getty Images

The last Olympic Opening Ceremony in France, at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, saw controversy in the build up when acclaimed filmmaker, the Oscar-winning Jean-Jacques Annaud, was replaced because his plans were considered too expensive. 

He was replaced by choreographer Philippe Decouflé, who was credited with producing a show that still ranks among the best in history. 

The most memorable performance of the event was the "Air Ballet," where dozens of acrobats thrilled the audience with their performances above ground in a temporary circus-tent like structure that was specially built for the event. 

In recent years, film director Zhang Yimou masterminded the Ceremonies for Beijing in both 2008 and 2022 and Danny Boyle led the team which produced the London 2012 Ceremonies.

Previously, big event specialists such as Australian Ric Birch and Italian Marco Balich had also been engaged to produce Olympic Ceremonies.