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  • Writer's pictureleodoulton

Why You Should Let Me Direct Your Classic Opera

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

I know I whinge about the operatic canon and tradition a lot, but I’m quite good at my job.

So I’d like to try and explain why I think that, and would like it if you were to invite me to direct your classic opera (especially those on my wishlist).

I’m Nearly Finished Cooking

I’ve finally started making shows where I’m happy with the artistic results; shows that feel like a coherent marriage between the text, show-world, and audience experience, drawing on collaboration with all members of the team.

In particular, Macbeth and Come Bargain With Uncanny Things were very satisfying pieces of craft. In some ways, they were similar, but above all they emerged from close engagement with their core text.

A metaphor I’m fond of when describing arts workers’ progress is cooking. ‘Needs more time to cook’, ‘almost cooked’, ‘finished cooking’, and so on.

Developing as an artist takes time, and is different for each artist. But I think I’ve moved from ‘cooking, needs time’ to ‘almost cooked enough to be rather satisfying’. There’s always more to learn, but I’m getting there.

Which means that if you want to get exciting emerging directors who might make you a "strange, slow-burn, potential sleeper hit of a show" (Opera magazine), now's a good time to stamp your brand on me.

I Have The Tools You Need For Thinking And Working

Arts organisations nowadays have to think about how their work relates to modern ideas about how we work, the sort of artistic work we want to make, audience experience, and so on.

That sort of study and reflection, leading to formulating and selecting appropriate tools, and then using them, is very much what I enjoy doing.

You can read some examples of that here, whether thinking about ways to approach Puccini, or engage singers as co-creators of a piece.

At any scale I might reasonably work, I think I can offer the sort of tools for reimagining while also engaging seriously with tradition.

I Think About Audiences

A common theme in all of my work is that it is audience-focused.

It’s important that the work speaks in a language the audience will understand, and likewise important that it feels whole; that it has a clear sense of its own heart. By thinking of both the show’s heart, and the audience one hopes to welcome to the show, a relationship can be found that I find useful.

Having worked on both sides of creative and administrative production, I’m aware of the fact that, at the end of the day, it’s quite nice making something that can sell.

That means thinking about what the audience get out of it, and if a work requires a novel-to-that-audience ‘language’ of performance, that the language is taught during the show. This approach also means making work that often attracts new audiences; my touchstones in popular culture (such as those discussed here) mean I make work that reaches beyond the ‘traditional’ audience for opera and theatre.

More About Me

I hope that I might be of interest. I’ve got a reasonably impressive C.V. at this point, including being awarded the Opera Awards Foundation bursary and being a finalist for the 2022 JMK Award, and would like to work on more classic repertoire as well as new work. I think my style is exciting, and only heretical to tradition when there’s a thoughtful reason to do so that honours something else in the work.

If you’re thinking I might be of use to you, do get in touch. I did write a bit more about how best to persuade me here - and I promise I’ll say if I think there might be someone better for the job.

A figure with long black hair and glasses in a grey coat carries a tray of steaming cups of tea in a theatre.
I am also the kind of director who makes the tea.


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