Stephen Lawless

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Stephen Lawless’ current engagements include Le nozze di Figaro for Palm Beach Opera‚ Romeo et Juliette in Barcelona‚ Anna Bolena for Canadian Opera Company‚ Roberto Devereux for San Francisco Opera and Katya Kabanova for Scottish Opera.

Lawless was Director of Production for the Glyndebourne Touring Opera from 1986 to 1991‚ where his work culminated in an immensely successful production of Death in Venice‚ which was subsequently recorded by the BBC for television and video release. The production was revived at the 1992 Glyndebourne Festival. He made his début with the Kirov Opera in Leningrad with Boris Godunov which was broadcast live on British television‚ the first ever live telecast of an opera from the Soviet Union to the U.K.

Other significant productions include Boris Godunov for the Vienna Staatsoper; Der Fliegende HolländerDaphneCapriccioSemele and Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci for the New York City Opera; Il trovatoreVanessa‚ and L’elisir d’amore for Washington and Philadelphia Opera; Un ballo in mascheraIl trovatoreL’elisir d’amoreDon Pasquale and Falstaff for Los Angeles Opera; Capriccio and Boris Godunov for San Francisco Opera; Le nozze di Figaro and La bohème for the Lyric Opera Chicago; Le nozze di FigaroCavallaria rusticana and PagliacciLa clemenza di TitoMaria StuardaAnna Bolena and Boris Godunov for Dallas Opera; Scarlatti’s Griselda for the Deutsche Staatsoper‚ Berlin; Boris Godunov and Un ballo in maschera for La Fenice in Venice; OrfeoTancredi and a double bill of Iolanta and Francesca da Rimini for the Theater an der Wien; Die Fledermaus for the Opera de Geneve; Falstaff and Die Fledermaus for Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Le nozze di figaroToscaDer Rosenkavalier and Un ballo in maschera for the Hong Kong Festival; Peter GrimesDie FledermausOtello and William Tell for Graz Opera; Acis and GalateaVenus and AdonisDido and Aeneas‚ and Don Chisciotte in Sierra Morena for the Innsbruck Festival; Salome and Der Ring des Niebelungen for the Nürnberg Opera; Maria Stuarda for the Canadian Opera; L’elisir d’amoreFaust and Carmen for Santa Fe Opera‚ Die Fledermaus for the National Performing Arts Centre in Beijing‚ Der Rosenkavelier for the Boshoi and OtelloDie Fledermaus for Korean National Opera‚ The Flying Dutchman for Washington National Opera‚ Handel’s Silla for the Opernhaus Halle; Romeo et Juliette in Santa Fe; Le nozze di Figaro for Kansas City and Philadelphia Opera; La clemenza di Tito for Opera Theater St Louis and Russalka for Magdeburg Opera. He received great critical acclaim for his production of Don Giovanni at the Metropolitan Opera‚ New York.

The Marriage of Figaro, Cincinnati Opera

In the Cincinnati Opera’s superb production, the gifted production designer Leslie Travers bluntly fleshes the moral decay leading to the French Revolution—a visual environment that brings stage director Stephen Lawless’s edgy concept to life.

Rather than sounding one incessantly merry note throughout the four-act opera, director Stephen Lawless gave a between-the-lines glimpse of the #MeToo movement in lace and brocade. In a chiaroscuro environment, he tapped into the tears behind the laughter, and validated the seething anger of women who dared to fight sexism more than 200 years ago: the Count is intolerably brutish and abusive and horny, and in once scene Figaro violently grabs Susanna. As a Figaro seen through a 21st-century prism, it worked beautifully.

Seen and Heard International (June 2019)

Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is the ideal opener for Cincinnati Opera’s 2019 season; the show features terrific performances (both onstage and in the orchestra pit), witty staging and lots of slamming doors...Stephen Lawless’ direction was a marvel, clearly galvanizing the entire cast, all of whom were physically and vocally nimble and totally in sync.

City Beat (June 2019)

Katya Kabanova‚ Scottish Opera

Scottish Opera’s fine production of Katya Kabanova – directed by Stephen Lawless‚ vividly conducted by Stuart Stratford‚ and performed in the original Czech – is one of tremendous power.

The Stage (March 2019)

Janacek never meant this opera to be even-handed, but when a traditional staging is as poetic and thoughtful as this, the final effect is... the unconditional surrender of anyone capable of being moved by the combination of music and drama. Either of these productions would serve as a complete vindication of opera’s claims on 21st-century culture.

The Spectator (March 2019)

Scottish Opera’s new production, by Stephen Lawless, places the action of the opera firmly in the countryside...Lawless catches the narrow-mindedness of village society to brilliant effect.

The Sunday Times (March 2019)

Janáček's ill-fated heroine bared her soul for three UK companies inthe early part of 2019. Too much licentious love, too much storm-tossed suicide? Not a bit of it. It may not say much for coordination between managements, but no matter how crowded the field, there will always be room for an interpretation as quietly observant as Stephen Lawless's for Scottish Opera. If swarms of aficionados did tour the country comparing Katya Kabanova in Leeds, London and Glasgow (doubtful), they wouldn't have wasted their money by crossing the border for a performance that spoke simply and directly of domestic abuse, emotional respression and psychological torture... Where Lawless really scored was in delineating character and relationships - oustandingly so in the personalities of Kabanicha and Dikoj.

Opera Magazine (May 2019)

Roberto Devereux‚ San Francisco Opera

The Lawless production‚ first seen at Canadian Opera Company in 2014‚ features scenic designs by the late Benoît Dugardyn that place the action in a unit set modeled on Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. During the overture‚ the staging offers a kind of whirlwind backstory: vitrines displayed the figures of young Elizabeth‚ flanked by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn‚ and Elizabeth sent Essex into battle amid maps and cardboard ships. The director’s scheme included a claustrophobic chamber for Sarah and Nottingham‚ and a metallic enclosure for the Tower scene. Lawless also proved effective in evoking the public nature of the opera’s events; Ian Robertson’s chorus sang with gusto throughout‚ serving as observers of the regime while courtiers Cecil (Amitai Pati) and Raleigh (Christian Pursell)‚ smirked and skulked and assumed watchful positions.

Opera News (September 2018)

Above all‚ I loved the production by Stephen Lawless. The staging‚ which he created for Dallas Opera in 2009‚ and more significantly he revived for Canadian Opera Company in 2014 (also starring Radvanovsky)‚ was simple‚ quiet‚ yet very effective in my opinion. (September 2018)

Director Stephen Lawless uses his production to examine the narrative afterlives of real people. Benoît Dugardyn’s set is modeled on the Globe Theatre‚ emphasizing that what we’re seeing is a fiction. Characters from Elizabeth’s past make appearances as nineteenth-century diorama models encased in glass. At the end of the opera‚ Elizabeth steps into her own glass case. Lawless’s concept is coherent and adds a thought-provoking layer to a flimsily plotted opera.

San Francisco Classical Voice (September 2018)

San Francisco Opera has staged Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux” just once‚ in 1979‚ but on Saturday‚ a new‚ glorious‚ instantly memorable production at the War Memorial Opera House more than made up for its long absence and rarity.

English director Stephen Lawless’ production raises the curtain on a set immediately recognizable as a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

San Francisco Examiner (September 2018)

Anna Bolena‚ Canadian Opera Company

Director Stephen Lawless has also created a silent role for Anna’s daughter‚ the red-haired Elizabeth‚ who becomes a pawn in the tug of war. Terrific singing and clever direction combine to create an involving evening...
The audience is treated to a mimed history lesson during the overture as the back story is explained (we also get to see the king’s first wife‚ the spurned and unhappy Katherine of Aragon). This works well‚ as does Lawless’s symbolic handling of the ever-present chorus.

Concerto Net (May 2018)

Director Stephen Lawless gets some terrific effects from Benoit Durgardyn’s Globe Theatre-inspired set‚ particularly in the way the chorus of courtiers‚ beautifully helmed by Sandra Horst‚ get to gossip and comment on the action.

Now Toronto (May 2018)

Le Nozze di Figaro‚ Palm Beach Opera

Stephen Lawless’s production manages to strike the perfect note between sex farce‚ social comedy and the darker overtones of servant verses master. Lawless’s staging is strongly character driven. In the best French farce tradition‚ rapid entrances and exits through doors and windows abound.

South Florida Classical Review (March 2018)

Le Nozze di Figaro‚ Palm Beach Opera

Stephen Lawless’s production manages to strike the perfect note between sex farce‚ social comedy and the darker overtones of servant verses master. Lawless’s staging is strongly character driven. In the best French farce tradition‚ rapid entrances and exits through doors and windows abound.

South Florida Classical Review (March 2018)

Anna Bolena‚ Washington National Opera

However‚ none of these preliminary festivities could quite prepare us for Stephen Lawless’ production of conceptual‚ exquisite theatricality and superb singing.
Even though heavily abused by stage directors all around the world today‚ the “theater within a theater” device was right on the money in Lawless’ production...
Had Donizettti been present in the WNO’s audience Saturday night‚ he would probably repeat the words that he wrote to his wife back in 1830‚ after the opera’s premiere. “A triumphal success‚ delirium – it seemed as though the public had gone mad. Everyone said that they could not remember ever being present at such a decided triumph!” Whether you are into bloody thrillers set to great music or prefer a lighter entertainment‚ Lawless’ Anna Bolena is not the show to be missed.

BachTrack (September 2012)

02nd November, 2019

Katya Kabanova - Theater Magdeburg

11th November, 2019

Katya Kabanova - Theater Magdeburg