Stuart Stratford


"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."

The Telegraph

"Scottish Opera’s music director Stuart Stratford nevertheless maintains impeccable musical standards in the pit."

The Stage

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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 2023/24 season he conducts the orchestra of Scottish Opera in concert repertoire including The French Collection, works by Georges Bizet, Charles Gounod, and Jules Massenet and Daphne by Richard Strauss. His opera productions for that season include The Barber of Seville and La Traviata both for Scottish Opera.

Recent operatic highlights include Ainadamar and Il Trittico both (Scottish Opera), Peter Grimes (Royal Danish Opera), Aida (Opera Australia), 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.

La Traviata

Scottish Opera, May 2024

Conductor Stuart Stratford brings out a good balance from the Orchestra of Scottish Opera between those ebullient party scenes and the intimate moments when the singers are alone on stage, ensuring that the vocal element is always paramount.

Thom Dibdin, The Stage ★★★★

In the pit, Stuart Stratford drove the music along with a keen ear for balance, the woodwinds having a great night. Verdi's score burst with exuberance

David Smythe, Bachtrack ★★★★

... the other consistently good part of the evening was the playing of Scottish Opera’s orchestra, finding colour and inspiration in a score that can suffer from over-familiarity. Stuart Stratford conducts them straightforwardly but clearly and, like McVicar’s production, he lets the drama flow naturally.

Simon Thompson, The Times ★★★

The orchestra of Scottish Opera, under the baton of Stuart Stratford, performs Verdi’s famous score with all the necessary heft and nuance. Dynamic, intelligent and emotionally scintillating, this seems sure to be a celebrated revival.

Mark Brown, The National


Scottish Opera, September 2023

“Scottish Opera’s orchestra, who don’t get to play Strauss very often and seem to relish being let loose on this score. From the gently purling winds of the opening, through the Apollonian climaxes, to the rippling translucence of the final transformation scene, they sounded sensational in every aspect, and their music director, Stuart Stratford, conducted them with a keen ear for balance and shape.”

Simon Thompson, The Times ★★★★

Stratford’s direction of the incremental unfolding of Daphne’s final transformation was flawless.”

Keith Bruce, The Guardian ★★★★

Il Trittico

Scottish Opera, March 2023

“This is a supremely professional ensemble show, with the Scottish Opera Orchestra in total command of Puccini’s orchestration under Stuart Stratford’s firm conducting.“

Nicholas Kenyon, The Telegraph ★★★★★

“… Stuart Stratford stoked up the orchestra and Puccini’s music swelled.”

David Smythe, Bachtrack ★★★★★

“Conductor Stuart Stratford and the orchestra delivered Puccini’s glittering score with relish and aplomb. You might have to kill for a ticket.”

Susan Nickalls, The Scotsman ★★★★★

“The orchestra plays with terrific dramatic colour, and Stuart Stratford conducts with a keen sense of the organic ebb and flow in each drama.”

Simon Thompson, The Times ★★★★

“The very large orchestra in the pit, under the baton of Music Director Stuart Stratford is on stellar form, and the conductor’s balancing of the vast instrumental forces with the singers is pretty much perfect.”

Keith Bruce, The Herald ★★★★


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 ★★★★★

Don Giovanni

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 ****

L'elisir d'amore

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

La bohème

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

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