"Stuart Stratford is the ideal conductor for this concept. His intense engagement and energy fertilise the rich colours of the score, belying the cliché that Donizetti’s orchestration is thin and jejune. Stratford’s approach pushes the cast quite hard, and like thoroughbred horses, they rise to the challenge."
"Scottish Opera’s music director Stuart Stratford nevertheless maintains impeccable musical standards in the pit."
Praised for his “intense engagement and energy” (The Telegraph) and his “razor sharp” musical direction (Times Literary Supplement), conductor Stuart Stratford was appointed Music Director of Scottish Opera in 2015.
In the 2022/23 season he conducts Ainadamar and Il Trittico both for Scottish Opera, and Peter Grimes for Royal Danish Opera.
Recent operatic highlights include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Don Giovanni, and a concert double bill of Rachmaninov’s The Miserly Knight, Stravinsky’s Mavra (all for Scottish Opera); Così fan tutte (Scottish Opera at Lammermuir Festival); the world premiere of Stuart MacRae’s Anthropocene, the European premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves, and filmed productions of L’elisir d’amore and Hansel and Gretel (all for Scottish Opera); and Lucia di Lammermoor (English National Opera).
In the UK Stratford has conducted for English National Opera, Opera North, Welsh National Opera, Opera Holland Park, Birmingham Opera Company, Edinburgh International Festival and Buxton Festival, as well as Scottish Opera, with a wide breadth of repertoire including La bohème, Il trittico, La Fanciulla del West, Tosca, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Don Giovanni, Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci, L’amico Fritz, Iris, Silvano, Falstaff, Rigoletto, Giovanna d’Arco, Lucia di Lammermoor, Orfeo ed Euridice, Eugene Onegin, Iolanta, The Queen of Spades, La forza del Destino, Khovanshchina, Jenůfa, Katya Kabanova, Faust, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Turn of the Screw, Satyagraha, Candide, and Jonathan Dove’s Swanhunter, L’altra Euridice and Tobias and the Angel. Outside the UK, he has worked at Finnish National Opera (Doctor Atomic); Theater St. Gallen (Un ballo in Maschera); with Estonian National Opera at the Birgitta Festival (Faust), and in Hong Kong (A Midsummer Night’s Dream).
Stratford has conducted orchestras and ensembles including the London Philharmonic Orchestra; BBC Philharmonic; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Philharmonia Orchestra; London Symphony Orchestra; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; City of London Sinfonia; Manchester Camerata; Porto Symphony Orchestra; Orchestra of the Algarve; Perm Opera and Ballet Theater; Viva Sinfonia; Remix Ensemble; and Ural Symphony Orchestra in Yekaterinburg where he gave the Russian premiere of Momentum (Turnage) and Airport Scenes (Dove).
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
Scottish Opera / October-November 2022
“Golijov’s score is a collage of influences, shifting fluidly from flamenco and electronic music to the classical language of 19th-century opera all soaked in the vibrant musical colour of Spain, deftly captured by the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and conductor Stuart Stratford”
Rowena Smith, The Guardian ★★★★
“Conductor Stuart Stratford and the orchestra have never sounded better, conjuring up hypnotic flamenco rhythms edged with bold woodwind and brass and Klezmer and Mariachi influences."
Susan Nickalls, Opera Now
“The aesthetic conflict is captivating. A guttural scene-setting drone emerges from the luxuriously populated Scottish Opera Orchestra under conductor Stuart Stratford, loaded with additional percussion, ample brass and Spanish guitar. The action emerging from the darkened stage, mostly contained within a circular glistening string curtain on which projected images are a magical amplification of the narrative, is a triumph of synthesis.”
Ken Walton, The Scotsman ★★★★★
“…The orchestra is on glittering form under the ever-adept baton of Stuart Stratford, capturing the music’s multifaceted ebbs and flows…”
Miranda Heggie, The Arts Desk ★★★★★
“…and while your enjoyment of Golijov’s music (warmly played and tightly paced under the baton of Stuart Stratford) will depend upon your personal tolerance threshold for flamenco guitars and sultry trumpet solos, this production is about more than the music: it’s a total (and often gripping) theatrical experience.”
Richard Bratby, The Spectator
“Both were excellent singers and were backed up by a good ensemble of singers and dancers and the orchestra under the baton of conductor Stuart Stratford who brought the work vividly to life.”
Hugh Kerr, Edinburgh Music Review
“Under music director Stuart Stratford, a virile Scottish Opera Orchestra, spiced with dazzling onstage Spanish guitar (Ian Watt) and traditional cajón (percussionist Stuart Semple), are the chief energisers in this riveting presentation.”
Ken Walton, VoxCarnyx
“WHEN he was brought on stage at the curtain call by Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford and production director Deborah Colker, Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov looked suitably delighted with what he had just witnessed.”
Keith Bruce, The Herald ★★★★★
Scottish Opera, May 2022
Stuart Stratford's conducting adds both drive and lightness
Thom Dibdin, The Stage ****
Under Stuart Stratford, the company’s music director, the orchestra plays Mozart’s score with terrific bite
Simon Thompson, The Times ****
...the Scottish Opera orchestra – under the baton of Stuart Stratford – has a tremendous grasp of the deft, dramatic interplay between Mozart’s music and Lorenzo Da Ponte’s vibrant libretto.
Mark Brown, The Telegraph ****
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Scottish Opera, February 2022
However good the individual elements, it is their organic amalgamation under Hill’s surefooted direction and Stratford’s precise yet visionary conducting that gives the entire show a sense of everyone and everything working together. The result has the makings of a Scottish Opera classic.
George Hall, The Stage *****
In the pit, Stuart Stratford began so quietly I almost missed the opening glissandos, but he went on to draw wonderful contrasts from his players. Completely at one with the singers, he clearly relished Britten’s challenging mercurial music – by turns moodily ethereal, regal and playful. The sheer energy emerging from the performance was due to the brilliant ensemble work right across the piece.
David Smythe, Bachtrack *****
Stuart Stratford’s musical direction reaps a robust orchestral performance…
Ken Walton, The Scotsman *****
Here, in the wide-open spaces of the Theatre Royal pit, under excellent conductor Stuart Stratford, the orchestral sounds blossom atmospherically, especially the chiming percussion and the slumbering, sliding strings.
Nicholas Kenyon, The Telegraph ****
Highest praise for the slimmed-down orchestra, though, who relish all the soloistic brilliance that Britten’s score gives them, and to the music director Stuart Stratford, who directs the ebb and flow of the drama so that the chaos never gets completely out of control.
Simon Thompson, The Times ****
Britten's extraordinary orchestral scoring was brilliantly executed by the Orchestra Of Scottish Opera with conductor Stuart Stratford. The finesse of quicksilver detail really brought the supernatural world brilliantly alive, especially with some stunning playing from wind and brass.
Carol Main, The List ****
The orchestra of Scottish Opera and Stratford, the company’s music director, deserved their extra-loud applause.
Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian
Under conductor Stuart Stratford, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera reveal Britten’s score in beautifully delineated detail, the pacing sure-footed without feeling rushed.
Rowena Smith, The Guardian ***** (Edinburgh performances)
The other key to the production’s success is Stratford and his conducting of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, revelling in the still magical, diaphanous colours Britten conjures from his smallish orchestra...
Hugh Canning, The Times (Edinburgh performances)
Così fan tutte
Scottish Opera at Lammermuir Festival, September 2021
The church setting imbues the orchestra and chorus with a natural resonance, but music director Stuart Stratford rarely allows that to dampen the overall Mozartian elan.
Ken Walton, The Scotsman, 10 September 2021 ****
Scottish Opera, July 2021
...conductor Stuart Stratford never allowed the quicksilver energy of the music to falter, with the notoriously tricky fugal finale – the stumbling block of many a performance – a particular triumph.
Rowena Smith, The Guardian ****
...the opera was performed in the company’s workshop car park, with the orchestra beamed from inside and the conductor Stuart Stratford marshalling the singers under a tent via video screens. [...] Stratford’s achievement is remarkable given the score’s intricacy in the Garden scene, where Team Wives and Team Ford squabble in counter-rhythms, while the outsider Fenton spins a golden lyrical thread at the heart of the ensemble.
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times
The ultimate winner is Verdi’s quicksilver score, more extraordinary for the fact that music director Stuart Stratford’s fully-engaged orchestra plays from an adjacent studio building, broadcast live into the auditorium space.
Ken Walton, The Scotsman *****
Scottish Opera’s orchestra is on splendid form under conductor Stuart Stratford
David Kettle, The Scotsman
Stratford drew a steady, measured performance from his players, with fine solo work and supporting his singers well.
David Smythe, Bachtrack ****
For an outdoor show it was remarkably sophisticated, with exact coordination of the close-knit, cross-rhythm ensembles (bouquets to the conductor Stuart Stratford)…
Andrew Clark, Opera Magazine
Conductor Stuart Stratford deftly co-ordinated the orchestra hidden behind the set...
Susan Nickalls, Opera Now ****
Scottish Opera, May 2021
…the music was the real elixir in this performance. Thanks to Stuart Stratford’s sure sense of style, the orchestra’s contribution was first-rate.
Andrew Clark, Opera Magazine
Scottish Opera, September 2020
The conductor Stuart Stratford, unflappable, held it all together with a precision the more remarkable for the wide open spaces between his band and the cast.
Christopher Lambton, The Arts Desk, 7 September 2020
The reduced orchestra plays Dove’s arrangement gorgeously and Stuart Stratford directs them with focused vigour.
Simon Thompson, The Times, 7 September 2020
From inside the warehouse, conductor Stuart Stratford and the orchestra of Scottish Opera keep the action moving.
Rowena Smith, The Guardian, 7 September 2020
Bravo to Stuart Stratford and his orchestra.
Opera Magazine, November 2020
Breaking the Waves
Adelaide Festival, March 2020
Illuminating this dark narrative, Mazzoli’s score is richly varied with gliding horns, prominent percussion, electric guitar and sonorous basses and strings. It’s a chamber orchestra – soloists from the Scottish Opera under the baton of Stuart Stratford – and full of colour and emotion.
Diana Simmonds, Limelight, 14 March 2020
Down in the pit, Scottish Opera music director Stuart Stratford led the large chamber ensemble of the Scottish Opera orchestra with flair.
Diana Carroll, InDaily, 16 March 2020
Scottish Opera, October 2019
Underpinning it all was the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and conductor Stuart Stratford who gave a lithe, responsive reading of Puccini’s score.
Rowena Smith, The Guardian, 17 October 2019
There are strongly nuanced performances from the supporting roles. With conductor Stuart Stratford’s sumptuously cinematic interpretation of Puccini’s score, they ensure that the story is being advanced for every second of this still-glorious production.
Thom Dibdin, The Stage, 17 October 2019
Stratford breathed instinctive passion into the score... engulfed by those impulsive Puccinian sweeps that tug mercilessly at the heartstrings
Ken Walton, The Scotsman, 18 October 2019
Breaking the Waves
Scottish Opera at Edinburgh International Festival, August 2019
The chamber orchestra – excellent Scottish Opera players under Stuart Stratford, managing to glow at close King’s Theatre quarters...
David Nice, The Arts Desk, 22 August 2019
Scottish Opera’s orchestra, reduced to chamber size, tackled Mazzoli’s luminous score brilliantly with detailed commitment, conductor Stuart Stratford very supportive of his singers.
David Smythe, Bachtrack, 22 August 2019
… evocative music, superbly played by a 27-piece ensemble conducted by Stuart Stratford
Keith Bruce, Herald Scotland, 22 August 2019
Scottish Opera’s music director Stuart Stratford nevertheless maintains impeccable musical standards in the pit.
George Hall, The Stage, 22 August 2019
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