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Thaddeus Strassberger

Stage Director

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Biography highlights

Thaddeus Strassberger won the European Opera Prize and received a Fulbright Fellowship to complete the Corso di Specializzazione per Scenografi Realizzatori at Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 2001.


He made his debut at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden with I Due Foscari starring Plácido Domingo, who also appears in his widely-acclaimed staging of Nabucco which was first seen at the
Washington National Opera.


Upcoming new productions include The Demon for New York’s Bard Summerscape, Carmen for The Danish National Opera and Bohuslav Martinů'sA Greek Passion in a new Russian translation for the Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera.


He recently directed and designed the world premiere production of the opera JFK by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek for Fort Worth Opera and l'Opera de Montreal and Glare by Søren Nils Eichberg at Covent Garden. His production of Satyagraha in Ekaterinburg, the first ever production of a Philip Glass opera in Russia, won the 2014 Bravo Award for Best Production in the Sverdlovsk Region and was nominated in five categories, including Best Production and Best Director, for the 2016 Golden Mask Award, Russia's most prestigious performing arts award. The production was seen at the Golden Mask Festival on the New Stage of the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow in Spring 2016 and was awarded two Golden Mask Awards -- Critic's Choice for Best Production and Best Chorus as well as the Governor’s Prize for Best New production and a Casta Diva Award for Best Production. He returned to Ekaterinburg in 2016 to direct and design the Russian staged premiere of Weinberg’s The Passenger, which is also a co-operation with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.


Other productions include: Rigoletto, Andrea Chenier and The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe (Staatstheater Braunschweig), I due Foscari (Theater an der Wien, LA Opera, Palau de las Arts
Valencia) and Le nozze di Figaro, The rape of Lucretia, Don Giovanni (The Norwegian Opera). In 2018, he returns to New York’s Bard Summerscape to direct Antonin Rubinstein’s The Demon, his sixth production with the festival, previously having created productions of Les Huguenots, Der ferne Klang, Le roi malgre lui (co-produced with Wexford Festival), his widely acclaimed production of Sergei Tanejev’s monumental opera, The Oresteia, the first staging of the
neglected masterpiece to be seen outside of Russia, and Ethyl Smyth’s The Wreckers

 

Notable past productions include: Un ballo in maschera, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Pique Dame for Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck, Hamlet for Washington National Opera/Minnesota Opera/Fort Worth Opera/Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Nabucco for Washington National Opera/Minnesota Opera/Opera Philadelphia/Florida Grand Opera, l’Opera de Montreal, La fanciulla del West for l’Opera de Montreal, Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck. His production of the rarely heard La Gazzetta (Rossini in Wildbad Festival, Germany) garnered nominations for both Best Production
and Best Direction from Opernwelt Magazine.


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October 2016
2218:00

M. Weinberg - The Passenger - Stage Director, Set & Lighting designer

Ekaterinburg Opera House

September 2016
1518:30

M. Weinberg - The Passenger - Stage Director, Set & Lighting designer

Ekaterinburg Opera House

1618:30

M. Weinberg - The Passenger - Stage Director, Set & Lighting designer

Ekaterinburg Opera House
1718:00

M. Weinberg - The Passenger - Stage Director, Set & Lighting designer

Ekaterinburg Opera House
1818:00

M. Weinberg - The Passenger - Stage Director, Set & Lighting designer

Ekaterinburg Opera House
November 2014
2018:30

Philip Glass – Satyagraha - Stage Director

Ekaterinburg Opera House

2118:30

Philip Glass – Satyagraha - Stage Director

Ekaterinburg Opera House
October 2014
2418:30

Philip Glass – Satyagraha - Stage Director

Ekaterinburg Opera House

2518:30

Philip Glass – Satyagraha - Stage Director

Ekaterinburg Opera House
September 2014
1618:30

Philip Glass – Satyagraha - Stage Director

Ekaterinburg Opera House

1718:30

Philip Glass – Satyagraha - Stage Director

Ekaterinburg Opera House
1818:30

Philip Glass – Satyagraha - Stage Director

Ekaterinburg Opera House
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The Oresteia

Director Thaddeus Strassberger wisely emphasized the Russian nature of the piece while giving a nod to its Greek roots. Madeleine Boyd's multilevel set was loosely based on a St. Petersburg palace, but the basic structure had architectural elements that evoked both ancient Greece and Stalinist Russia, and it looked different in each act. Along with Mattie Ullrich's 19th-century Russian costumes, Jax Messenger's moody lighting and skilful direction of the chorus, the production had both universality and specificity.

- Heidi Walesen, The Wall Street Journal


Rigoletto

"Rigoletto" in krimineller Schattenwelt

Es ist eine düstere Szenerie, in der Opernregisseur Thaddeus Strassberger seine "Rigoletto"-Aufführung platziert hat. Strassberger hat auch die Bühnenkulisse entworfen. Seine zeitgenössische Version spielt im schmuddeligen Milieu einer mafiösen Halbwelt. Umwabert von viel Theaternebel verlegt der Regisseur die dramatische Handlung in ein apokalyptisches Zwielicht, in dem Gewalt, Drogen, Prostitution und Mord an der Tagesordnung sind. Zwischen Müllbergen, Marihuana-Plantagen, verkommenen Sozialwohnungen und finsteren Abwasserkanälen vollzieht sich jene tragische, oft erzählte Geschichte um den verkrüppelten Hofnarren Rigoletto, dem sein Herr, der Herzog von Mantua, seine geliebte Tochter Gilda nimmt, und dessen Rache dann dramatisch misslingt. 

- NDR.de Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Janek Wiechers


Hamlet

Sounds like a job for Thaddeus Strassberger, the inventive director and set designer who gave us a thoughtfully political “Nabucco” in September. In his staging of “Hamlet” (whose earlier iterations were seen in Kansas City and revelatory update, while keeping the piece firmly in the time we’re used to seeing it. Paired with gorgeous singing and detailed, nuanced character portrayals, it proved a most excellent evening at the opera.

- Minneapolis Star Tribune, Larry Fuchsberg


Ekaterinburg State Opera - The Passenger

Strassberger dokumentiert auf eindrückliche Weise, wie er treffend Emotionen schüren und eindrucksvoll sowie schlüssig darstellen kann. Er entwickelt dazu eine exzellente Personenregie, die in keinem Augenblick Langeweile aufkommen lässt oder irgendwelchen Opernklischees verfällt. Der Regisseur vermag die Psyche und Emotionen der Personen tief auszuloten und das Drama aus ihnen heraus zu gestalten. Optik und Dramaturgie befinden sich dabei stets in bestem Einklang mit der komplexen Musik Weinbergs, die zwischen großer Dramatik mit expressiver Ausdruckskraft und einem lyrischen Duktus sowie Tanzrhythmen und Elementen der Volksmusik changiert, ganz wie es die jeweilige Situation erfordert.

- Klaus Billand, Der Neue MerkerRead the article

The concept is extremely effective, particularly because of Strassberger’s attention to detail on the complex way the characters move around stage and on how they are lit. Different sets delineate the various parts of the camp, with the tall, smoking brick chimneys of the furnaces particularly hard-hitting.

Strassberger keeps pressing emotional buttons right up to the end.

- David Karlin, BachtrackRead the article


Los Angeles Opera - Nabucco

For its second go at “Nabucco,” L.A. Opera turned to director and scenery designer Thaddeus Strassberger’s 2012 Washington National Opera production, which then traveled to Minnesota Opera later that year and to Opera Philadelphia in 2013. The L.A. production delivers the one-two punch of Plácido Domingo (taking on a Verdi baritone role) with superb Verdi conductor James Conlon in the pit.

 

“Nabucco” was the 28-year-old Verdi’s third extant opera, written reluctantly at first after a crisis of self-confidence brought on by the failure of “Un Giorno di Regno” and the deaths of his first wife and two infant children. It not only made him a star but it also made him a revered symbol of Italian national pride at a time when Italy was still split into a patchwork of city states and regions under Austrian domination.

 

With that in mind, Strassberger tries to simulate what the opera’s 1842 premiere at La Scala in Milan might have been like, and how it subliminally affected its audiences. Using the old opera-within-a-play trick, he houses the production within the frame of La Scala, with the rumbustious Overture serving as somewhat incongruous background music for gowned, curtsying socialites to be escorted to their tiered box seats to our left, with Austrian soldiers standing guard.

 

From here, Strassberger pretty much lets the opera play out in its biblical time frame — except when he doesn’t (more on that later). We see massive Babylonian columns, somewhat soiled white robes for the Jewish exiles, colorful garments for the Assyrians, lavishly ornate hand-painted backgrounds.

- Richard S. Ginell, LA TimesRead the article

Director Strassberger told his story in a straight forward dramatic manner. His scenery was both beautifully painted and functional. The very front of the stage held a delightful flower arrangement and a structure with baroque markings that hid the prompter's box.

- Maria Nockin, Broadway WorldRead the article

The Los Angeles Opera mounted the imaginative Thaddeus Strassberger production of Verdi’s “Nabucco” .

 

Strassberger created the elegant sets and California designer Mattie Ullrich created the costumes.

 

No detail is left untouched by Strassberger. Even the supertitles, translating the Italian text, are given a topical spin. Thus, when the chorus of Assyrian troops, in support of Abigaille’s coup d’etat against her father, reveal they are spreading false rumors that Nabucco has fallen in battle, the supertitles have them admitting to creating “fake news”.

 

The production focuses on the activities of the 1842 stagehands as Verdi’s great chorus is performed lamenting the captivity of the Israelites by a foreign power. The 1842 Italian audience understood the metaphorical significance of that chorus to their political situation. Since 1842 the opera has indelibly been associated with the Italian Risorgimento that by the mid-19th century had successfully expelled foreign powers from Italy.

 

At opera’s end, there is a surprise for the audience. There is banter between the opera’s principals and the Austrian royals, then, slowly, some of the cast begins a defiant reprise of Va pensiero which the Milanese interpret as a calls to revolution against their Austrian “masters”.

- William, Opera WarhorsesRead the article


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