Yannis Kokkos was born in Athens. Since 1963 he has lived in France. Studied scenography at the École Superieure d’Art Dramatique in Strasbourg. One important stage in Kokkos’ career was his collaboration with the theatre director Antoine Vitez which lasted thirty years (1960-1990), together with whom he staged productions at the Comédie Française, the Piccolo Teatro di Milano, the Théâtre National de Chaillot and the Festival of Avignon (Le Soulier de Satin, Elektra and Hamlet). As a set designer, Kokkos has worked with major music theatres throughout the world, among them the Opéra de Paris (Macbeth), La Scala and Covent Garden (Pelléas et Mélisande), the Wiener Staatsoper (Die Zauberflöte), the San Francisco Opera (Elektra) and the Hamburg Staatsballett (Ondine).
Since 1987 he has also worked as a stage director of operas and dramas. Kokkos’ opera productions have met with great acclaim from critics and the public, among them Götterdämmerung, Iphigénie en Aulide, Der Fliegende Holländer and Assassinio nella cattedrale (La Scala), La clemenza di Tito (Welsh National Opera), Tristan und Isolde (Théâtre de la Monnaie), Hänsel und Gretel (Grand Théâtre de Genève), Medea (Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse), La Damnation de Faust and Les Troyens (Théâtre du Châtelet), Die Frau ohne Schatten (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino), Xenakis’ Oresteia (Gibellina festival, Sicily), Berio’s Outis and Henze’s The Bassarids (French premieres, Théâtre du Châtelet), Boris Godunov (the Wiener Staatsoper), Don Quichotte (the Mariinsky theatre), Les Troyens (the Mariinsky theatre and the Edinburgh International Festival), Cavalleria rusticana and I pagliacci (Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse), Der Fliegende Holländer and Otello (Athens and Epidaurus Festival, Greece), Tristan und Isolde (Greek National Opera, first performance in Greece), Nabucco (Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Valencia, Spain), Turandot (Opéra national de Montpellier, France).
Recipient of numerous awards, among them the Laurence Olivier Prize, two Molière prizes, the golden medal at the Prague Quadrennial, the Critic Prize for his production of the first integral version of Les Troyens. Commandeur of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.