In 1968, Anatoli Vassiliev enrolled at the Conservatory of Dramatic Art in Lunacharsky Moscow (GITIS) and took classes under the direction of André Popov and Marie Knebel. After having some difficulties in the 70s, he became more successful by the end of the 80s in Western Europe thanks to his adaptation of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author and Cerceau, a play that Viktor Slavkine had especially written for his troupe. From then on, Anatoli Vassiliev’s international reputation gradually increased. In 1992, he staged Lermontov’s Le Bal Masqué at the Comédie Francaise; the following year he presented his version of Pirandello’s “So it is (if you think so). In 1997, his production Lamentations of Jeremiah was first shown at the Festival of Avignon, then in Italy and also in Berlin’s Hebbeltheater. This production earned him the Russian “Golden Mask” award for Best Production and Best Stage Design. A year later, he presented Pushkin’s Don Juan or the Stone Guest at the Cartoucherie in Vincennes, a stage he appreciates a lot: "The Théâtre du Soleil is a magnificent work space, a place full of life where you don’t feel the weight of a repertoire. I feel close to their way of working". In 1994, he staged Dostoyevsky’s Uncle’s Dream in Budapest, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades in Weimar in 1996; then Ostrovsky’s Guilty Innocent in Hungary in 1998, Pushkin’s Mozart and Salieri in 2000 and Heiner Müller’s Medea Material in 2001. In 2005, he directed Medea Material for the second time, this time at the Nanterre-Amandiers Theatre. In 2006, he staged Pushkin’s and Tchaikovsky’s Travels of Onegin. That same year, he was invited to the Festival Avignon, where his productions Mozart and Salieri and Iliade were performed. Gorbachev’s Perestroika gave him the opportunity to direct the Drama Conservatory from 1987 on.
Today, Anatoli Vassiliev focuses on directing non-dramatic texts in order to analyse their literary value. He’s still one of the leading European contemporary stage directors, and works as artistic director of the Moscow Theatre School of Dramatic Arts, Théâtre de l’Europe, and as a professor of drama in Lyon, France.