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 is currently Director of Opera at Gothenburg Opera and has been appointed as Artistic Director of Glyndebourne, a post he will take up in spring 2019.

Stephen 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.

In Gothenburg, Stephen's productions of Le Nozze di Figaro (2014/15), Hamlet (2015/16) and Elektra (2016/17) all brought him critical acclaim. Future plans in Gothenburg also include Der Ring des Nibelungen (2018-2021).

Outside of Gothenburg, he is much in-demand at major opera houses and festivals worldwide, with recent new productions including Parsifal at the ROH, Theodora at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and Carmen for Greek National Opera. In the current season he directs a new production of Tristan und Isolde at Staatstheater Hannover.

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Das Rheingold

Gothenburg (November 2018)

What strikes me most about Mr Langridge’s interpretation is this connection between humanity and nature, and how violence pervades within it. This point is made several times - for example, Wotan uses the same axe to cut a branch of the World Ash Tree as to sever Alberich’s finger and eventually steal the ring. ... Wotan and Loge’s confrontation with Alberich and their cunning manipulation of him was a high point.

Niklas Smith, Seen and Heard International

Stephen Langridge has been very successful in portraying a clear storyline with strong changes of atmosphere between scenes. ... Yes, I very much hope to see the next parts of this cycle.

Lennart Bromander, Aftonbladet

In this set, artistic director Stephen Langridge has endeavoured to work sustainably; all the decor, paint, fabrics and clothes are made from recyclable materials and the entire stage is made of a kind of plywood. Although sometimes I think the scenography is more imaginative and clever than beautiful, it is certainly made beautiful through the appealing lighting which really enhances the stage space.

The introduction, where the river Rhine is shaped by an apparently endless stream of people in shining blue fabrics, is a powerful image of the flow of human life and change, or in other words, the infinite stream that we all are a part of. It is really moving.

Mia Gerdin, Sveriges Radio

The opening image is beautiful in its portrayal of a happy ancestry: the Rhinemaidens mingle with a living stream of people wearing green-coloured fabrics while the gold child [representing the Rhinegold] tumbles around and plays.

Sofia Nyblom, Svenska Dagbladet

The idea of a “green” production feels like a deep-rooted interpretation, not a gimmick to ape contemporary trends. And, from that river of humankind to the heart-breaking plight of the “golden child”, Langridge coaxed from all his cast a richness of emotion that matters more than big-budget pyrotechnics. Langridge, whose background features spells of work with “poor” theatre and opera in non-standard settings, does not seem to crave the gold-hungry extravagance of traditional opera palaces. … His sustainable Rheingold has no lack of heart-quickening moments. It may be “green” but it is not austere. Yet our human imagination – embodied in those silent, necessary helpers – still has to work to make it real. On this evidence, Glyndebourne has made a bold, and timely, choice.

Boyd Tonkin, The Arts Desk

In his Das Rheingold, Langridge again demonstrated his gift for revealing the beating human heart in the most grandiose of works.It was a compelling image against the Prelude’s deep and intangible music, and the dramatic apotheosis of Langridge’s insistence that citizens of this city participate in productions.

There is nothing new in those images of modern life, but there is lots new in Langridge’s look at the corporate greed and irresponsibility that this part of the world held out against for longer than most. As Langridge admits, the bigger challenges are yet to come. But this accomplished and at times revelatory start to his Ring sets up the coming catastrophes very nicely indeed.

Andrew Mellor, Opera News

Tristan und Isolde

Staatsoper Hannover (September 2018)

No other work by Wagner has so little plot yet focuses so explicitly on what goes on inside the characters' minds. This makes Tristan und Isolde, albeit a favourite in the opera canon, a work that is difficult to stage and communicate. The creative team in charge [of this production] are Stephen Langridge and, for set and costumes, Connor Murphy. They chose a very clear-cut, unobstructed perspective on the story, which allows a lot of space for those worlds inside the characters and for the text. … There is plenty of room to play out the characters' dialogue. Stephen Langridge has the courage to focus on and trust the text. ... This is not an attempt to reinterpret the piece, the point is not to find previously undiscovered layers in this work. … At the end, there are many well-deserved Bravos

Christian Schuette, Der neue Merker

Nothing in this coolly simple production distracts from the music. … A more intense Tristan [und Isolde] has never been seen. And if you were hoping for a comprehensively intense operatic experience, you got it.

Henning Queren, Neue Presse

With its restrained set design and the clearly defined colours in light and costumes, this production seems impressively modern ... The two Butoh dancers, whom Stephen Langridge has added to the performance, really add another transcendental level. … Every opera fan gets their money’s worth here.

Agnes Bührig, NDR​

sophisticated and introverted production

Stefan Arndt, Hannoversche Allgemeine

Elektra

Gothenburg Opera (February 2017)

Strauss and Hofmannsthal’s opera on the subject, often hailed as the first Freudian opera (though it was Jung who coined the “Electra” complex), understandably places its psychological weight on its eponymous heroine. Not only does her voice dominate, but the orchestra projects the music inside her head — we cannot hear beyond Elektra. But in Stephen Langridge’s new production for Gothenburg Opera, the solipsism is broken open just a touch. ... Langridge’s pin-sharp direction is also seamlessly executed in Conor Murphy’s elegant modern staging. Both in its details, such as the dolls and the discarded shoes of the victims, and the general design of the set — whose sweeping blind curve leaves us, and the characters, unable to detect which shadows are cast by the present and which by the past — the production draws first-rate performances from the company as well as a vital extra layer from the work itself.

Guy Damman, Financial Times ****

Stephen Langridge invents a radical and at the same time poetic realism in this gripping pin-point production, which has great pictorial powers and is true to Hofmannsthal and Strauss.

Peter Krause, concerti

Opera director Stephen Langridge is responsible for the ingenious direction. ... Interpreted in this way, Elektra touches my innards. It washes over my body, penetrates every pore, and makes all the small cells in my body besiege my soul! I give up in a blissful intoxication of an opera that I just cannot defend myself against!

Thorvald Pellby Petterson, Sveriges Radio

As a whole, this is like a punch. Smart and claustrophobic.

Per Feltzin, SR Kulturnytt

It is all very well made and well conceived. ... as close to a portrayal of a psychoanalysis as you can get on an opera stage.

Martyn Nyström, Dagens Nyheter

In this iconic setting of a psychoanalytic drama there is no risk of missing the important details. Langridge works with a clarity that can be highly disturbing.

Bo Löfvendahl, Svenska Dagbladet

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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