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Gil Marsalla

Producer & Director

He brings French musical heritage to life and to the world!

In just a few years, Gil Marsalla, a musician, producer, and director from Nice, has succeeded in making French musical heritage a worldwide success through the shows he produces and directs!

It was when he saw the success that the songs of Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel and Charles Aznavour had with international audiences that Gil Marsalla had the idea of exporting shows that highlighted the French musical heritage of the 20th century. “…In the eyes of the international public, France is Paris! Paris is Montmartre and Montmartre is Edith Piaf! It is this bohemian life that tourists from all over the world come to seek when they are on holiday in Paris that gives them magnificent memories, and these memories they want to return to their homeland…”. Before him, no one in France had thought of proposing shows highlighting this heritage for export. “I was told that it was old-fashioned, that no one was interested in it in France and that I was going to fail…”.

After several years of work, the result is there! Piaf! The Show has become in a few years the biggest success in the French-speaking world with more than 400 performances in 50 countries and more than a million spectators!

In the wake of this, Paris! The Show was born from a simple idea. “…When tourists come to Paris, they can go to the Moulin Rouge or the Lido, but they can’t find anywhere to see a musical show about the great French songs. So, I created this show to bring a bit of France and Paris directly to their homes…”. And so, the show went on to become a worldwide hit and performed on Broadway in 2019!

This success aroused the curiosity of one of France’s greatest publishers, Gérard Davoust, the owner of Éditions Raoul Breton, Charles Aznavour’s friend of 40 years. “…I had the chance to meet Charles Aznavour several times thanks to Gérard Davoust, who has become a very close friend and from whom I take a lot of advice and anecdotes…”.

It was with his agreement that in 2016 Gil Marsalla created Formidable! Aznavour – The Story of a Legend, the show that pays tribute to this global icon. “…We started the tour in January 2017, and the show was immediately an incredible success wherever it went in the world…”


How do you explain this worldwide success when French programmers shun this musical genre, the very essence of our culture? “I single-handedly produced the Olympia in Paris and some twenty sold-out dates in France with Piaf! The Show…” Proof if any were needed that there is still an audience in France for this genre.

Unlike the big groups in the sector, Directo Productions is a small, versatile, and very reactive team. To put on his shows, Gil Marsalla has studied the export market intensely, which is very different from the French market. The first criterion is the price, in fact the logistics involved in an international show can discourage many programmers “…There’s no point in proposing a show that’s too heavy to manage in terms of transport, set-up time and, of course, the fee charged…it’s eliminatory!

In order to offer a quality show for export, you have to perfectly control the costs of creation and production. Starting with the choice of performers who are not stars, but on the contrary young talented artists of which our French provinces are full.

Gil Marsalla creates and produces his shows at his home in Nice, in theatres, that are graciously lent to him in exchange for a residency, far from the expensive rates in the capital.

He also spends a lot of time at international trade fairs to convince agents, producers, and venues from all over the world to take the risk of presenting his shows.

As for his budget, for the past 10 years he has financed his international development with his own funds. “I reinvest everything I earn, my company does not make a profit. I pay myself a salary that allows me to live my passion and this incredible adventure, and I live simply”, confides Gil, who assures us that he does not count his working hours!



His biggest challenge, Piaf Symphonic, was presented in a world premiere from June 14th to 16th 2019 at the Nice Opera, in his hometown ” … A waking dream for me who used to spend all my time in front of this opera and in which I dreamed of presenting a show one day… “. It is done with this symphonic version of the great songs of Edith Piaf, the arrangements of which were entrusted to Nobuyuki Nakajima, the famous Japanese musician who recently distinguished himself with the sublime Gainsbourg Symphonic. “It’s a different approach, full of new musical colors, while remaining within the original work…”. This project aims to bring great music and popular music closer together, at a time when the great symphony ensembles around the world want to offer new programs to their audiences and attract new ones.

Having opened a very promising international market for the first time, Gil realizes that he will have to supply it with performances every year! So, he continued to create one show a year! This is how Douce France, Brel! The Show, What Now My Love the tribute show of Gilbert Bécaud, Cyrano de Bergerac the musical, were created ! A recital of Aznavour Symphonic is on the way for 2024.



Holder of a master’s degree from the University of Nice in Human Sciences, trained at the regional conservatory of Nice in Jazz Piano, and on the boards since the age of 14 in a variety orchestra, Gil simply called upon his experience of the stage to succeed in this incredible adventure.

His show production company founded in 2001 was struggling to develop, caught between local competition and the insatiable appetite of Parisian producers. Gil quickly understood that the future of his company lay in creating his own shows.

But above all, in an international development in markets where his colleagues do not go… “…The French speak English very badly …Naturally, the competition is less tough … ! ”
For several years, French artists have been asking their producers more and more to develop internationally because France has become a saturated market. We are therefore witnessing, as the latest CNV report attests, an explosion in sales of albums and concerts by French artists abroad. ” … My colleagues who used to laugh at me when I told them about my projects… they are the same ones now who call me to ask me for advice on how to export their artists internationally!


Its shows are real vectors of communication for the French-speaking world dear to President Emmanuel Macron. They receive little help from institutions, even though they develop and share the French language with millions of people around the world because they are performed in French! “…At first, the institutions did not even understand my approach. The commissions for granting aid are all in Paris and as I am in Nice, it is difficult to convince and move the networks from a distance to obtain funding. I had to produce without aid for years…and notably the Carnegie Hall in New York. The institutions told us that it wasn’t possible, and yet we did it! In view of the results, we are beginning to receive a little help, but it is still very timid…”.
The next step for Gil Marsalla: “…No longer sell our shows in every country but produce them ourselves, to ensure the sustainability of our little business…” This is what he has started to do in North America and Eastern Europe with success. A risky gamble, but a measured one, given the international public’s love of French musical heritage and France!

As a reward for the immense work accomplished in the United States, IMG Artists, the largest artistic agency in North America, has signed a broadcasting agreement for its shows! This will allow a wider diffusion in a country where a show not performed in English had no chance of success!

“Alone we go very fast, together we go further”

This is the motto that motivates Gil Marsalla to go higher every day with his small team. Some of them started with him more than 20 years ago, proof of their loyalty to his perseverance and his ideas, starting with his wife Sabine, but also to his close guard and the 40 artists and technicians from the Côte d’Azur that he has been supporting for years with his shows.

After several years of existence and hard work, Directo Productions has finally been rewarded with :

  • The “Entrepreneurial Audacity” Trophy awarded by the CCI Côte d’Azur and Nice Matin
  • First place in the Palmarès du Livre du Bureau Export 2019

As a footnote to all the madness that surrounds him, there is this original work by Ben, the contemporary artist from Nice of whom Gil is a fan, which hangs on the wall of his office opposite him. The artist has drawn “I’m not crazy” on it, a way for Gil to make sure every day that he’s coming from a waking dream.