Rodula Gaitanou

Stage director

"Rodula Gaitanou’s thoughtful production brings insight and clarity to Verdi’s tragedy."

The Guardian, Tim Ashley, June 2018

"the characters are well defined, the chorus groupings perfectly handled, and every detail of the staging is a delight."

Financial Times, Richard Fairman, June 2018

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London-based stage director Rodula Gaitanou was shortlisted in the Best Director category at the 2019 International Opera Awards for her stunning new production of La Traviata at Opera Holland Park which will be revived in 2021. Other engagements this season include La Clemenza di Tito at Bergen National Opera.

Last season she returned to Wexford Festival Opera to direct her new production of Don Quichotte, and travelled to Germany to direct Un ballo in Maschera at Oldenburgisches Staatstheater. Engagements that could sadly not take place in 2020 include her American debut at Opera Theatre of St Louis to direct Carmen, and La Clemenza di Tito at At Bergen National Opera.

In 2018/19 Rodula directed a widely acclaimed new production of L’oracolo/La Mala Vita on a double bill to open Wexford Opera Festival, and she returned to Gothenburg Opera as revival director of Pagliacci/Cavalleria Rusticana. Miss Gaitanou directed a new production of Un Ballo in Maschera at Opera Holland Park, generating exceptional reviews from critics and colleagues alike.

Previous highlights include new productions of Ariadne auf Naxos for Göteborgs Operan, Sweden, La traviata at Opera Holland Park, London, Guillaume Tell at Victorian Opera, Melbourne, Australia and Lucia de Lammermoor at Opera Hedeland, Hedehusene, Denmark.

Originally a violinist, Rodula Gaitanou studied the Mousikoi Orizontes Conservatory in Athens where she was born and continued her studies in Musicology at La Sorbonne University in Paris. She switched to Opera Staging at Université Paris 8 and undertook Physical Theatre studies at the International Theatre School Jacques Lecoq.

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La Clemenza di Tito, Bergen National Opera

(March 2021)

A brief word on Bergen National Opera’s thrillingly stylised semi-staging of Mozart’s last opera, La clemenza di Tito… Rodula Gaitanou’s smart, vivid direction — relayed on Zoom from London while the cast rehearsed in Bergen — makes a virtue of austerity, projecting the drama grippingly in an abstract setting of squares marked around an oblong space, representing Tito’s seat of power… An astonishing achievement for one of Europe’s pluckiest small companies.

Hugh Canning, Sunday Times

...a defiant account of Mozart’s final opera that’s beautifully cast with six Norwegian nationals and intelligently rethought by London-based Rodula Gaitanou from her aborted original plans of a year ago. The result is a triumph of simplicity and clarity, light on pomp and glitter but forensically presented to reflect our times.

Mark Valencia, Backtrack****

Now BNO is back in the Grieg Hall with a version of Mozart's opera that is certainly different from the one originally planned, but which nevertheless works very well, both theatrically and musically. Greek Rodula Gaitanou, who has directed the show on zoom from London, is best known for beautiful, colourful and easily updated versions of 19th century opera classics. With the staging in the Grieg Hall, she has had to work with completely different means to establish a performance that satisfies the official requirements for distance and safety during the pandemic. Gaitanou and her staff have solved these problems by dividing the darkened stage floor into clear, luminous fields with solid spacing… The result has been an elegant, stylized stage image and a tightly choreographed movement pattern - which at the same time makes good sense in relation to the opera's narrative.

Bergens Tidende*****

A stripped back production, a director working remotely and a young Norwegian cast, but Mozart's final opera retains its extraordinary power… Gaitanou's production made a virtue of necessity and concentrated on the interpersonal relationships in a very abstract space. We saw the characters as individuals separated physically as well as mentally from each other. And after all, the engine of the plot is the fact that many of the characters entirely fail to say what they really feel, whilst Tito confuses by being direct and refreshingly honest…. Despite the warnings of it being stripped down, I enjoyed the production immensely. Rodula Gaitanou's interaction with the singers might have been done remotely, but there was a clear sense of thought and deliberation to what was presented. What we experienced was far more than a super-charged concert performance. When things have returned to a semblance of normality I do hope that Bergen National Opera invites Gaitanou and the cast back to revisit the production. They deserve it.

Planet Hugill

Un ballo in Maschera, Staatstheater Oldenburg

(December 2019)

Rodula Gaitanou's production of Un ballo in maschera for the Staatstheater placed the action in Mafia territory, making Riccardo into a capo who was on the radar of the FBI. Set in the 1990s, with costumes by Goje Rostrup, the production was well crafted and essentially conventional, remaining respectful of the material, placing the Riccardo-Amelia-Renato triangle at the centre of the action and tracing Renato's tortuous emotional journey to especially convincing effect.

Wolfgang Denker, Opera Magazine

Don Quichotte, Wexford Festival Opera

October 2019

Wexford’s new production, directed by Rodula Gaitanou with sets and costumes by takis, updates the action into a 20th century in which the well-meaning knight and his ever-devoted squire, Sancho Panza, arrive on a scooter and a moped, both apparently powerless and requiring foot power to get them moving.

The Irish Times, Michael Dervan, 23 October 2019

The young Greek director has created a wonderful, simple staging, aided by takis’ beautiful designs and Simon Corder’s elegant lighting. The set features mobile wooden platforms which turn from town square into bandits’ hideout and, most effectively, into the windmills which Don Quichotte mistakes for giants. Gaitanou tells the tale straight, with a little updating; the knight errant’s horse, Rosinante, is replaced by a bicycle, while his sidekick, Sancho Panza, rides a moped. The opening festival is represented by a circus, with Dulcinée the star attraction...Kudos to Gaitanou for allowing both entr’actes to be performed with the curtain down – not every overture or intermezzo needs to be cluttered with stage action. Her production is a delight and I could have happily watched it all over again as soon as the curtain fell.

Bachtrack, Mark Pullinger, 23 October 2019

Rising star director Rodula Gaitanou joins with designer Takis and conductor Timothy Myers to give Wexford a successful season launch with this entertaining staging of Massenet’s Don Quichotte…The result is a production of one of the French composer’s finest pieces that balances perfectly the mixed package of humour and sentiment ….”

The Stage, George Hall, 25 October 2019 ​

Director Rodula Gaitanou’s handsome production is visually spectacular and effectively balances both the comedy and pathos. The duo sally forth not on steeds but on decrepit motorcycles. Beautifully lit skyscapes frame the middle acts.

The Irish Examiner, Cathy Desmond, 29 October 2019

Though Rodula Gaitanou's staging is rich, with an elaborate happy-making circus-style Act 1, the emotional through-line retains its simplicity.”

The Independent, Katie Hayes, 26 October 2019

Rodula Gaitanou’s direction managed to successfully convey the drama in an engaging and meaningful manner, bring the characters and their relationships alive, while visually delighting the audience, but it also managed to deal with each individual act as a story in its own right, carefully building the tension to its climax, so that there was always a sense of completion as the curtain fell. Moreover, it was achieved without letting go of the underlying dynamics, which peak with Don Quichotte’s death in the final act.

Operawire, Alan Neilson, 4 November, 2019

…the new staging of Don Quichotte. The last, even so, proved to be the festival hit, thanks toRodula Gaitanou’s moving direction of a fine young cast… Gaitanou’s sure-footed staging, in skeletal sets by Takis…proved entirely faithful to a work that should be better known.

The Times, Hugh Canning, 3 November 2019

An attractive and colourful production by Rodula Gaitanou updated the setting agreeably – Quixote’s nag Rosinante became a rusty motor scooter and the windmills were turbines. The performance radiated a pleasant glow…

The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen, 31 October 2019

Un ballo in maschera, Opera Holland Park

June 2019

Holland Park’s mini-Glyndebourne is now open for business, and in Rodula Gaitanou’s production of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera it has a winner. The big directorial decisions have been spot-on…

Michael Church, The Independent, 9 June 2019

Rodula Gaitanou’s thoughtful new production for Opera Holland Park treads a delicate line between heart and horror, keeping its feet even as the story and its protagonists start their dizzy whirl into the climactic final dance-to-the-death… Gaitanou’s direction is sensitive and sympathetic, capturing the opera's widescreen spectacle and its intimate awfulness.

Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 10 June 2019

The Greek director Rodula Gaitanou has made OHP’s intractably wide stage seem like a walk in the park. Her staging of Un ballo in maschera is one of the company’s finest, so much so that last year’s memorable La traviata now seems like a dress rehearsal for the main event. This is a director who understands how to use three dimensions, how to energise characters, how to create convincing stage logic from improbable situations and how to guide the eye of her audience through a busy expanse of space. None of these things happen by chance…They require an eye that’s steeped in operatic stagecraft and the kind of aesthetic sensibility that enables her, for example, to think of masks as recurring symbols of human secretiveness, from fencing helmets to travelling disguises to the faces at a masked ball.

Mark Valencia, Bachtrack, 10 June 2019

Set in what appears to be the 1940s (as opposed to 1792 Sweden), Rodula Gaitanou’s Un ballo in Maschera is a brilliant take on Verdi’s opera. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the appearance of a hospital in the second act, instead of at the gallows outside of the town at midnight. In Gaitanou’s reading, Amelia is being given a ‘cure’. Gaitanou sets the opening scene as a fencing class…It all works well. Ballo is a difficult work to stage persuasively, and Gaitanou’s thought-provoking insights will withstand many a viewing, revealing layer upon layer of depth.

Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International, 15 June 2019

Rodula Gaitanou's direction generally focused proceedings to the middle of the viewpoint. Her placing of the work to about 1940 worked well, and blended tradition with some neat ideas – not least casting Oscar as a feisty and charming young woman rather than the usual annoying teenager. Gaitanou’s handling of the cast was exemplary, and the characters totally believable as they became increasingly mired in their complex relationships.

Opera Now, Francis Muzzu, September 2019

…the video direction… captures both telling detail and the ‘wide-screen’ sensation that Holland Park’s stage can offer when suitably filled – as here in Rodula Gaitanou’s lively, consciously cinematic production… it aptly combines brooding menace with Knockabout comedy…

Opera Magazine (Live stream 2020)

L’oracolo & Mala vita, Wexford Festival Opera

October 2018

Both operas, though, were punchily staged by Rodula Gaitanou and skilfully designed by Cordelia Chisholm. Keeping the setting as San Francisco — Chinatown in 1900 gave way to 1950s Little Italy — made thematic sense, suggesting two equally claustrophobic worlds, and Gaitanou’s violent embellishments to both denouements rang true.

Neil Fisher, The Irish Times, 22 October 2018

Director, Rodula Gaitanou’s approach to the opera’s relentless sensationalism was to ramp it up and make the ending even more shocking and gory. In the libretto Uin-Scî, the learned doctor and father of murdered Uin-San-Lui, merely strangles the villain, props him on a bench and pretends to talk to him to avoid detection by the passing policeman. Not content with exacting revenge, Gaitanou’s Uin-Scî starts performing a gruesome surgical removal of the villain’s heart which he bears aloft in gloating triumph before the policeman catches him in the act at the end. It had the audience gasping audibly...Gaitanou’s modernisation was tasteful and clever and even the changed ending…

Andrew Larkin, Bachtrack, 21 October 2018

Director Rodula Gaitanou made the final revenge killing even more bloodthirsty than intended by the composer and librettist, though in broad terms her punchy production remained close to the spirit of the piece... a corner of Little Italy, the site of Gaitanou’s equally accomplished production of Mala vita (Wretched Life, 1892), the second half of the evening’s double bill.

Opera Now, George Hall, December 2018

Rodula Gaitanou's staging of the two pieces was often guileful.

Opera, Geoffrey Wheatcroft, January 2019

Guillaume Tell, Victorian Opera

July 2018

Top marks, then, to Richard Mills...Together with director, Rodula Gaitanou, he has shorn the work of its ballet music to “achieve clear storytelling, strong drama and unfussy, lucid staging”. To a large extent, they have succeeded in their aim. The resulting length of this production is a bit over three hours, but time passes quickly as the dramatic pacing rarely flags.

Limelight, Tony Way, 15 July 2018

Rodula Gaitanou directs in a way that is paradoxically restrained and bold, an attitude that filters into every aspect of the production. She encourages her villains to push into the grotesque but then reins in some of the opera’s most melodramatic turning points. It’s a tricky balancing act, executed with great skill...Gaitanou and Mills have tapped into the work’s magnetic power, and unleashed something truly resonant. Lovers of the form are going to rush from all corners of the nation to join this fight.

Timeout, Tim Byrne, 16 July 2018

La traviata, Opera Holland Park

June 2018

The direction of the third act is flawless.

The Independent, Michael Church, June 2018

This is the most distinguished new Traviata to reach London in years.

WhatsOnStage, Mark Valencia, June 2018

a remarkably complete depiction of the work’s central themes.

The Stage,George Hall, June 2018

A highly successful and engrossing production by Rodula Gaitanou.

Bachtrack​, Dominic Lowe, June 2018

Rodula Gaitanou’s La traviata is an exceptionally intelligent affair.

MusicOMH, Sam Smith, June 2018

Ariadne auf Naxos, The Göteborg Opera

February 2018

Gothenburg Opera's dazzling production

The Sunday Times, Hugh Canning , February 2018

Pure Magic!...If I could only use one word to describe this new production the word would be “inspired”. Director Rodula Gaitanou was an inspired choice for the Gothenburg Opera and together with a superb team she created one of the most memorable and beautiful opera productions I have ever seen.

Seen and Heard International, Niklas Smith, February 2018

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