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 the Artistic Director at Glyndebourne, a post he took up in spring 2019. He was previously Director for Opera and Drama at Gothenburg Opera, Sweden, where his productions of Le nozze di Figaro (2014/15), Hamlet (2015/16) and Elektra (2016/17) all brought him critical acclaim. Das Rheingold, which opened in November 2018, is the first part of a four-season production of Der Ring des Nibelungen he directs, finishing with Götterdämmerung in 2021.

Outside of Glyndebourne Stephen is much in demand at major opera houses and festivals worldwide, with recent new productions including Theodora at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Carmen for Greek National Opera and Tristan und Isolde for Staatstheater Hannover.

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.

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Götterdämmerung

Gothenburg Opera (December 2021)

Gothenburg’s first Ring cycle ended with a simple ut overwhelming gesture of hope…as Götterdämmerung's orchestral postlude radiated optimism, a group of citizen extras planted a tree at the front of the stage, two of them embracing in front of the prompt box. ‘Tomorrow’ was scrawled on the drop curtain at the start of the performance. At the end of it, Brunnhilde’s ultimate sacrifice invited the next generation to try again at making a workable world, without the corrupting influence of the gods…The Gothenburg Ring’s humanity and clear symbolism have been its biggest dramatic strengths, and made for a triumphant last installment…this has been an unusually moving Ring and somehow a very Swedish one, with its flat-pack plywood visual aesthetic and strong sense of communal responsibility… Stephen Langridge’s most striking theatrical tool [is] the holographic river of citizens first seen in Das Rheingold. It returns here as a procession of climate refugees, who trudge across the stage during the orchestral interludes, pushing prams and carrying possessions. It is an effecting piece of imagery in counterpoint with Wagner’s endless melody, underlining the presence of the Rhine in the music and the story… Rogister, Langridge and the Gothenburgers have given us a Ring with musical and dramatic impact that is absolutely of its time, and entirely of its place. That is no small accomplishment.

Andrew Mellor, Opera News

Stephen Langridge and his superb creative team have held the four-year cycle together despite being forced by the pandemic to produce a socially-distanced and online-only Siegfried last season…this production is a product of the joy of storytelling and glorious music.

Niklas Smith, Seen and Heard International

Siegfried (streamed)

Gothenburg (March 2021)

Gothenburg’s shining Siegfried gloriously surmounts the challenges of producing opera in a pandemic...Stephen Langridge’s Gothenburg Ring cycle has as a key theme the destruction of nature, but no one in their worst nightmares could have imagined that the four-year project would come close to being derailed by a pandemic that many argue is the result of mankind’s exploitation of nature and the shrinking habitats of wild animals...The result is impressive in its continuity with the two previous parts Das Rheingold and Die Walküre...The high rates of Covid-19 in Sweden during the periods the performance was recorded caused a number of practical challenges [but] Langridge achieved elegant solutions for Siegfried’s kiss and the increasing rapture of the couple so that by the end the choreography felt natural.

Niklas Smith, Seen and Heard International

The whole production is a triumph in a time of adversity: superb...The inventiveness of Langridge's staging continues. Silent 'Narrators' add a decidedly supernatural dimension while at one point donning personal protective equipment - even Wagner's primordial world cannot escape Covid's shadow.

Colin Clarke, Opera Now - staging ***** music *****

The team of Stephen Langridge (director), Alison Chitty (design) and Paul Pyant (lighting) produced a quietly radical Parsifal at the Royal Opera in 2013, finding both beauty and horror in unexpected corners. Their Ring in Gothenburg pursues a no less subtle course of rebellion against some tenaciously held conventions and traditions in staging Wagner... This is billed as a “green” Ring by an environmentally friendly opera house. It’s a notion which, I fancy, would have intrigued Wagner the theorist, dreamer and pragmatist, who originally entertained the notion of building a Bayreuth for the Ring and then burning it down, but whose dramaturgy time and again emphasises our responsibilities to those around us and those to come... The casting is almost wholly strong…Siegfried is only a heedless bully if he is made to look and sound like one; Brenna, Langridge and Rogister between them present a much deeper portrait of this very modern anti-hero.

Peter Quantrill, Arts Desk ****

In this Siegfried, the predatory drive on nature has left behind a single large scrap yard, where the dragon Fafner incubates the treasure with the magic ring...In the filmed stream version, which here replaces the production missed in November, one gets advantageously close to the worst hero Siegfried and his dysfunctional family situation.

Camilla Lundberg, SVT Nyheter

Göteborg Opera's gleaming new Siegfried, pandemic style...Former artistic director Stephen Langridge accommodated pandemic constraints for the recorded closed-house stage premiere in December, enabling the recent international digital exposure that must be regarded as a silver lining to the extreme conditions still limiting the performing arts.

Katherine Syer, Bachtrack

Director Stephen Langridge's emphasis on environmental destruction is clear and contemporary…The idea of sustainability is repeated in scenography and costumes, where Alison Chitty used used, recyclable material; granite gray fittings and debris aesthetics break the blazing fire of the projections.

Karin Helander, SVD Kultur

A new Siegfried...Something new is born in the stripped-down and repetitive, in the necessary distances between the singers

Magnus Haglund, Göteborgs-Posten

Director Stephen Langridge has toned down the mythological in The Ring. Giants, nibelungs, gods, demigods all become humans like you and me…Alison Chitty's realistic rubbish scenography fits the concept nicely where suddenly single luminous door frames mark a change for the Wanderer

Kulturnytt

Die Walküre

Gothenburg (December 2019)

Stephen Langridge’s staging is magnificently inventive. … The impact of this Walküre, however, is huge: a modern staging that speaks to all, and to the now. Magnificent.

Colin Clarke, Opera Now

an image-strong, honest, powerful production that does not deconstruct the characters but delicately traces their conflicts and hopes.

Peter Krause, Concerti

Langridge’s gripping and moving Die Walküre in Gothenburg… the continuation of Stephen Langridge’s Gothenburg Ring cycle has been eagerly awaited… Paul Pyant’s lighting design again excels in creating different moods. The turntable and the moving rear wall were skilfully used… The ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ was effectively staged with plenty of well-choreographed movement …. I am already looking forward to Siegfried!”

Niklas Smith, Seen and Heard International

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

Timeline

Stephen Langridge

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