Stephen Langridge

Stage director

"A visually enthralling production by Stephen Langridge."

Hugh Canning, Opera

"A brilliantly conceived achievement...the stagecraft of this production is stunning."

Betty Mohr, South Town Star Chicago

"The theatrical experience is the thing: it is overwhelming."

Colin Anderson, The Opera Critic

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Stephen Langridge studied drama at Exeter University. Particularly noted for his work in the field of opera, he has directed numerous productions worldwide, including at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Salzburg Festival, Stockholm Royal Opera, Tokyo Opera City, Bregenz Festival, Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos Lisbon, Den Norske Opera Oslo, Opera di Roma, Grange Park Opera, Greek National Opera, Volksoper Wien and at the operas of Bordeaux, Malmö and Angers-Nantes.

A strong advocate of contemporary music, he has directed several world premieres, including productions of major new works for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Aldeburgh Festival, Nationale Reisopera, and for Glyndebourne.

He is also well known for his large-scale theatre work in unusual settings - including Bernstein’s West Side Story and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in UK Prisons, and Ngoma, a multi-racial music and theatre project in South African townships - and for his work with integrated groups of disabled and non-disabled young people with Share Music Sweden. He regularly leads training, development, and education projects for opera companies and orchestras across Europe.

Stephen Langridge is Artistic Director for Opera and Drama at Göteborgsoperan where his first production, Le Nozze di Figaro, opened the 14/15 season to critical acclaim.
Other recent engagements include a new production of Parsifal for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

2015/16 included a new production of Thomas’ Hamlet at Göteborgsoperan, as well as Theodora at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and Carmen for Greek National Opera. In 2016/17, Stephen directs Elektra in Gothenburg, where further plans also include a full Ring cycle 2018-2021.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

Hamlet

Gothenburg Opera (April 2016)

Langridge has found canny ways around some of the score’s minor weaknesses: he had the chorus sniff cocaine before one unlikely modulation in Act I; and he plays Hamlet’s drinking song in Act II as something darkly desperate (for many it’s Thomas’s biggest act of sacrilege). The best bits (the end of the second act, the trio at the start of Act III and Ophelie’s demise) can, with the right direction, astonish. Langridge provided the right direction, both for these highpoints, and elsewhere. His contemporary Danish setting succeeds in banishing Shakespeare while his vision of Hamlet’s psychological demise broadens the limited emotional range of the opera by tapping the play (but not obviously). ... Langridge’s transferral of the gravediggers’ scene to a mortuary points up the tragedy that the score can’t quite project, and his directing of Ophelia’s drowing is spellbinding.

Andreas Mellor, Opera Now ****

Stephen Langridge ... transferred the plot skilfully into the present tense without losing the horrid activities at the Danish court in the past: during the dark orchestral intro, the audience became a silent observer of the murder of the Danish king by his brother Claudius, using a lethal injection. A cold-blooded murderer such as this considers himself safe and relies on a surveillance state. ... The climax of this impressive production was the theatrical company who, prompted by Hamlet, re-enacts the murder of the previous king in front of the entire court.

S. Martens, Opernglas

In Langridge’s staging, the story has been moved to modern Denmark. The delirious royalists stand against the anti-nationalist street rallies. Fear is everywhere, as well as delusion and aggression. The thriller atmosphere in the scene with the Ghost almost reaches the chill of horror master David Cronenberg. To bring him up on a screen at a security gate is really good. It is one of the sophisticated staging solutions that make this Hamlet extremely tension-charged and Langridge’s most impressive production in Sweden so far.

Martin Nyström, DN kultur

At the Gothenburg Opera director Stephen Langridge, who is also head of the opera in Gothenburg, tried to bring back the policies of the drama again purely scenic. He has placed the production in contemporary Denmark’s monarchy, politics and barricades. The aesthetic is very much one of hoodies, jeans, corrugated sheets, spray cans and plastic. The ghost appears in a surveillance camera in a security gate. It was successfully gripping.

Ella Petersson, SVT

Stephen Langridge’s production emphatically marks that we are in Denmark. The chorus of fickle people are at first happily waving Danish flags to King Claudius and Queen Gertrude. The people soon discover, however, like Hamlet, that something is “rotten” in the state of Denmark, as it says on the placard while Hamlet is hiding in the crowd with the help of a cap and hooded jacket. Properly entertaining - but Langridge’s Danish politicized modernization becomes a most poignant observation, where Thomas’ opera is in the first place a chamber play about a timeless and gruesome family history.

Lennart Bromander, Aftonbladet

Under Stephen Langridge’s direction, the historical Denmark has become an extremely contemporary, and at the same time both an ugly and a beautiful country, with its police force and the red-white flags, the X-ray screenings for the royal visit, with memorials, flowers and candles in the streets, and gravediggers who have been turned into pathologists; here we first see Hamlet’s father’s ghost through surveillance cameras. The story-telling is clear and unmissable.

Per Feltzin, Sverige Radio

This update to our time is edgy. And it’s impressive.

Gunilla Brodrej, Expressen

Parsifal

Royal Opera House (November 2013)

The triumph of this new interpretation, directed by Stephen Langridge and designed by Alison Chitty, is that it de-sanctifies Parsifal : all trace of pseudo-sacred mumbo-jumbo is removed. What we get instead is a visual shorthand, contemporary but timeless, that illuminates the opera’s philosophical complexity while keeping the narrative both straightforward and continually mesmerising. Across a five-hour span, that is no mean feat...

The bottom line is that Langridge has divined a Parsifal of intellectual fibre and visual eloquence, matched to a musical performance of exceptional sensitivity under Antonio Pappano. His is not a slow Parsifal, but a spacious, urgent reading with oodles of sensuousness in Act Two and disarming tenderness in the Good Friday music.

Andrew Clark, Financial Times *****

Stephen Langridge’s new production confronts this troubled and troubling piece unflinchingly... It’s certainly a dramatically consistent world, dominated by the intensive-care cubicle in which Amfortas is contained, and hardly altering even for the deliberately unexotic realm – flower maidens in headscarves – that Willard White’s Klingsor rules in the second. And instead of ignoring or sidestepping the more unsavoury aspects of the libretto, Langridge does attempt to tackle many of them, sometimes in lurid detail, so that the disjunction between them and Wagner’s sublime music is often disturbingly clear.

Andrew Clements, The Guardian ****

He (Langridge) justifies it in the two long hours of the first act, establishing the narrative superbly in a clear way that builds steady tension through extended time-spans and adopts a cool, considered line on Wagner’s pseudo-Christian ritualism — one of the divisive issues in the piece.

Michael White, The New York Times

Stephen Langridge’s new production of Wagner’s last opera, Parsifal, grapples intelligently with the big issues of this problematic work.

Barry Millington, Evening Standard ****

What is Wagner trying to tell us about Christianity, Buddhism, race, blood, sin, redemption? In Langridge's production, laden with signposts and visual rubric, there was plenty of opportunity to ponder these questions.

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer ****

The Damnation of Faust

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Hector Berlioz never meant his légend dramatique, La Damnation de Faust, to be staged, but modern directors
cannot resist the challenge. Stephen Langridge took up the daunting task with his brilliant new production for Lyric
Opera of Chicago at the Civic Opera House. The Lyric’s first staging of any Berlioz work was striking in its edginess,
wit and unabashed theatricality. Langridge downplayed the work’s inherent Romantic sentimentality, and the result
was a contemporary gloss on the Faust legend of the sort the sardonic devil might have dreamt up for the
amusement of guests at a hip soirée in Hades.

John von Rhein, Opera Magazine

The Minotaur

Royal Opera House - Revival

First performed in 2008, Stephen Langridge’s exemplary production of The Minotaur returned, with mostly the same cast and greater clarity and force.

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer

Stephen Langridge’s production is stylish, playing out in the wan sunlight and oppressive darkness of Alison Chitty’s set.

Erica Jeal, The Guardian *****

Stephen Langridge’s production, designed by Alison Chitty, is as sure-footed as ever.

Barry Millington, The Evening Standard

Awesome, forbidding, an opera of unremitting dark power… Birtwistle’s voice is so compelling, and the production so arresting, that the slowly unfolding drama never lets go. Stephen Langridge’s simple but striking production skillfully blends ancient and modern, placing the Minotaur in a circular lair, like the orchestra of a Greek theatre (or a bull-ring) and overseen by a masked Chorus.

Richard Fairman, Financial Times

Birtwistle’s visceral piece has lost none of its immediacy since it first appeared at Covent Garden. In fact, although the shock value is as high in Stephen Langridge’s skilful production, the relationships between its major characters seem more intense, and the opera’s psychological message hits harder.

Neil Fisher, The Times

Timeline

Stephen Langridge

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