CHRISTOPHER COWELL

Christopher Cowell Opera Director

Christopher Cowell is a graduate in Modern Languages and History of Art from Cambridge University. His first work as a director was with students at the Royal Academy of Music and with the recent graduates and young professionals of British Youth Opera.

In the earlier part of his career he forged the beginning of a long-term association with Surrey Opera, for whom he has directed Hansel and Gretel, Faust, Die Fledermaus, Turandot and The Flying Dutchman and the world première of Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s lost masterpiece Thelma. He is now their Associate Artistic Director.

Internationally, his work has taken him to Chicago Opera Theater for Semele, and Il Viaggio a Reims, to Danish National Opera for Il barbiere di Siviglia, to Den Ny Opera in Denmark for Orlando , Don Pasquale, Il Turco in Italia, Rinaldo, Le Nozze di Figaro and Cosi fan tutte and to Århus for their Sommeropera’s productions of Elskovsdrikken and Cosi fan tutte. In Copenhagen he directed the inaugural production of the Copenhagen Opera Festival, Opera i Underverden, and he has directed Donizetti’s Rita, Bizet’s Le Docteur Miracle and Offenbach’s Den Forvandlede Kat for Den Rullende Opera, of whom he is the Artistic Director. He has also directed Die Zauberflöte for the ZêzereArts Festival in Portugal and Une Education Manquée and Il Campanello for the Azuriales Festival in Nice. For Opera Akademiet in Copenhagen he has directed Il Tabarro, Cosi fan Tutte and Walton’s The Bear. Other productions with Danish opera students include Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi and Riders to the Sea. In the Republic of Ireland he has directed Carmen for the opera in Cork. During 1998 and 1999 he worked with Peter Brook and Claudio Abbado at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and on the subsequent world tour of Don Giovanni. He has been to De Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp to assist Tom Cairns on King Priam.

2008 saw his main-house début at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, directing Rolando Villazon in a revival of Les Contes d’Hoffmann. In 1995 he was invited to join the team of directors at Glyndebourne. With their touring company he has directed La Traviata, Le Comte Ory and Rodelinda and assisted on La Bohème, Deborah Warner’s controversial production of Don Giovanni, and Le Nozze di Figaro.  During the Festival seasons he has assisted some of the best-known names in opera, starting with Tom Cairns on Harrison Birtwistle’s The Second Mrs. Kong and continuing with Graham Vick on The Queen Of Spades. In subsequent years he has worked on Lulu, again with Graham Vick and on Britten’s Owen Wingrave. At English National Opera he has assisted on King Priam and at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on John Copley’s La Bohème. The Royal Opera House also commissioned a new translation and adaptation of La Cenerentola, which he directed in the Linbury Theatre in 2001.

Alongside this work, he has maintained his freelance directing career with productions of Agrippina, Poro, Re dell’Indie and Atalanta for the London Handel Festival, the modern première of Rameau’s Acante et Céphise for UCO, Idomeneo for the Royal Scottish Academy, The Magic Flute for British Youth Opera, Madama Butterfly and Carmen for Castleward Opera, The Fairy Queen, Malcolm Williamson’s English Eccentrics, Delibes’ Le Roi l’a Dit, Lennox Berkely’s A Dinner Engagement, Lortzing’s The Opera Rehearsal, Benjamin’s Prima Donna, Vaughan Willams’ Riders to the Sea, Von Suppé's Ten Belles without a Ring and Offenbach's La Périchole for Morley Opera, La Bohème and Così Fan Tutte for the Covent Garden Festival, Falstaff for Pegasus Opera, La Rondine and Dido and Aeneas for City Opera, Weber’s Die Drei Pintos for Opera Omnibus, Eugene Onegin for Nonsuch Opera, The Magic Flute with Island Opera, Carmen at the Gaiety Theatre, Douglas and many others.

His linguistic training has been used to advantage in the preparation of performing translations of opera in English; Medea (Charpentier), The Coronation of Poppea, Carmen, Radamisto, The Return of Ulysses and Orfeo for English National Opera, Faust, The Flying Dutchman (both originally for Surrey Opera) and Ariadne on Naxos, which have been recorded by Chandos, as well as La Rondine, La Périchole, Agrippina, The Magic Flute and Tamerlano for various companies. He translated all the works for Graham Vick’s Birmingham Opera Company’s Monteverdi cycle; Il Ballo delle Ingrate, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse, Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda.  He regularly contributes aria translations for recital discs by singers such as Sir Thomas Allen, Jennifer Larmore, Gerald Finley, Diana Montagu and Christine Brewer.