Artist and Director R. B. Schlather is widely recognized as one of the most ambitious, creative, visionary, and innovative figures in opera today. His performances and installations are presented worldwide in theaters, museums, galleries, concert halls and public spaces.
Recent highlights include a directing debut with Santa Fe Opera, where his production of Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte” was called “the revelation of the Santa Fe opera season”, “modern disturbing, riveting, explosive” (Wall Street Journal), “Painful” (New York Times) a “radical, hyper-sexualized, ultra-modern visual poem” (Santa Fe RePorter) “Bracingly conceived and beautifully sung” (Santa Fe New Mexican) by all star cast Amanda Majeski, Ben Bliss, Rodney Gilfrey, Tracy Dahl, Emily D’angelo, and Jarrett Ott, conducted by Harry Bickett.
Future highlights include his European directing debut with Oper Frankfurt in an immersive, site specific staging of Handel’s “Tamerlano” in the Bockenheimer Depot, Fall 2019, and a National Sawdust commission “Untitled (Inspired by Film Stills)” in development with Eve Gigliotti, Paola Prestini, Royce Vavrek, Nico Muhly, Missy Mizzoli, and Ellen Reid.
In the 2018-2019 season, Mr. Schlather staged and co-curated “Fluxconcert” at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conducted by Fluxus Festival curator Christopher Rountree. This evening-long exploration of the Fluxus Movement is one of the most ambitious undertakings of the Philharmonic’s 100-year history. Conceived as a multi-disciplinary, immersive, campus-wide experience, this “fluxconcert” broke down temporal and physical barriers traditional to a concert presentation. The Los Angeles Times called this a “brilliant reversal of expectations,” and praised the “communal atmosphere,” and “cheerfully anarchic performances.” This fluxconcert additionally headlined Alex Ross’ New Yorker Magazine Notable Performances 2018 for its creativity, artistic anarchy, and “controlled bedlam.” Mr. Schlather opened the season directing Verdi’s “Macbeth” at Syracuse Opera with conductor Christian Capocaccia and returned to the Curtis Opera Theater to direct “Don Giovanni” conducted by Karina Canellakis in co-production with Opera Philadelphia.
His 2017 exhibition of Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thompson’s opera "The Mother of Us All" at the historic Hudson Opera House was named one of the “Ten Best Opera Performances of 2017” (New York Times), “entirely fresh and contemporary” (Wall Street Journal), “Avant-garde opera for the people” (New Yorker Magazine), and the “finest operatic experience of the season” (New York Observer), among other accolades. This production was conceived and commissioned as a centennial celebration of voting rights for women in New York State, presented as a month-long exhibition involving over fifty Hudson valley residents in salons and performances occupying the historic Hudson Opera House, where Susan B. Anthony spoke three times.
In the 2017/18 season, Schlather devised an installation of David Hertzberg’s opera “The Wake World” at the Barnes Foundation, a world premiere commissioned by Opera Philadelphia for their inaugural 017 Festival. This immersive, site specific performance of “The Wake World” was awarded the honor of ‘Best New Opera 2017’ by The Music Critics Association of North America. He additionally directed The World Premiere of Hertzberg’s next opera - “The Rose Elf” - as the first production in Unison Media’s annual series ‘The Angel’s Share’ presented in a catacomb at the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. This performance was awarded WQXR’s ‘Freddie’ for ‘Best New Opera’, ‘costume’, and ‘opera production’, among other critical praise.
Past highlights include performing Handel’s “Ariodante” for Opera Omaha’s One Festival at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts with the International Contemporary Ensemble. This presentation continued Schlather’s explorations of Handel’s operas based on Ludovico Ariosto’s ‘Orlando Furioso’ with conductor Geoffrey McDonald.
It was preceded by an artist residency at National Sawdust (2016), and performances of “Alcina” (2014) and “Orlando” (2015) in the main gallery of Whitebox Art Center in China Town, NYC.
Named one of the ‘Top 10 Pivotal Moments For Opera And Classical Performance 2015’ (WQXR), these unprecedented innovations in public access to opera production through installation in an art gallery gained distinguished attention in the New York Times, called by art critic Holland Cotter a “Fascinating species of performance art” and classical music editor Zachary Woolfe “A Gift given to the New York cultural scene.”
Additional productions INCLUDE A CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED NEW PRODUCTION OF 'DOCTOR ATOMIC' FOR CURTIS OPERA THEATER, PHILIP GLASS' "MADRIGAL OPERA" DEVELOPED WITH CHORAL CHAMELEON AND JOHNNY GANDELSMAN AT NATIONAL SAWDUST, A DOUBLE BILL OF "BASTIANELLO" AND "THE JUNIPER TREE" AT WOLF TRAP OPERA, "TURANDOT" FOR THE BARD MUSIC FESTIVAL AT THE RICHARD B. FISHER CENTER, "IN THE PENAL COLONY" FOR BOSTON LYRIC OPERA'S ANNEX SERIES AT THE CYCLORAMA AT BOSTON CENTER FOR THE ARTS, AND PERFORMANCES OF DAVID LANG'S "LITTLE MATCH GIRL PASSION" CONCEIVED WITH MIAMI-BASED ILLUMINARTS AT THE PEREZ ART MUSEUM MIAMI (2016) AND THE SCHOOL | JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY (2016).
SCHLATHER HAS PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS AS A STAGE DIRECTOR WITH THE SANTA FE OPERA, LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC, OPERA PHILADELPHIA, NATIONAL SAWDUST, CURTIS INSTITUTE OF MUSIC, International Contemporary ensemble, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, BARD MUSIC FESTIVAL AT THE RICHARD B. FISHER CENTER, WOLF TRAP OPERA, BOSTON LYRIC OPERA, OPERA OMAHA, SYRACUSE OPERA, GRAN TEATRE DEL LICEU, ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA, CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY, TANGLEWOOD MUSIC FESTIVAL, NEW YORK CITY OPERA, GLIMMERGLASS OPERA, and (LE) POISSON ROUGE.
Mr. Schlather has participated in CONFERENCES AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY AND THE BANFF CENTRE FOR ARTS AND CREATIVITY, TAUGHT AT THE CURTIS INSTITUTE OF MUSIC, New York University, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY, AND ITHACA COLLEGE (WHERE HE IS AN ALUMNUS OF THE SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES AND SCIENCES WITH A B. A. IN ART HISTORY and minor in drama), AND WAS AN ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE AT NATIONAL SAWDUST FOR THE 2016/17 SEASON. HE HAS PERFORMED AT THE GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM AND THE KITCHEN IN GERARD AND KELLEY’S ‘TIMELINING.’ HIS SOLO PERFORMANCE ‘DON’T CALL ME CRUEL, BABY,’ (2015) WAS PERFORMED AT CATCH! AND PRELUDE NYC.
MR. SCHLATHER IS A MEMBER OF A.G.M.A. AND is REPRESENTED BY COLUMBIA ARTISTS, INC.
“R.B. SCHLATHER’S PRODUCTION OF MOZART’S “COSÌ FAN TUTTE” WAS THE REVELATION OF THIS SANTA FE OPERA SEASON... MODERN, DISTURBING AND RIVETING.”
— HEIDI WALESON, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AUGUST 2019
“SCHLATHER HAS PROVEN HIMSELF A RISKY VISIONARY WITH THIS ONE, AND THE SANTA FE OPERA HAS DONE AUDIENCES RIGHT BY TRUSTING HIM.”
— SANTA FE REPORTER, JULY 2019
“A BRILLIANT REVERSAL OF EXPECTATIONS”
— MARK SWED, LOS ANGELES TIMES, NOVEMBER 2018
“THE REVELATORY PRODUCTION THAT R. B. SCHLATHER CREATED DRIVES HOME THAT MESSAGE IN EVERY WAY... THE PIECE AND ITS EXECUTION FELT ENTIRELY FRESH AND CONTEMPORARY.”
— HEIDI WALESON, WALL STREET JOURNAL, NOVEMBER 2017
“A LEADER AMONG THE NATION’S MOST INTRIGUING YOUNG OPERA DIRECTORS.”
— CLYDE FITCH REPORT, NOVEMBER 2017
“SCHLATHER IS WIDELY RECOGNIZED AS ONE OF THE MOST AMBITIOUS, CREATIVE, STRONG, AND EDGY OPERA DIRECTORS WORKING TODAY”
— WAMC RADIO, OCTOBER 2017
“‘THE WAKE WORLD’ IS O17’S GLAMOROUS SWAN SONG...AND VERY MUCH AN EVENT. DIRECTOR R. B. SCHLATHER MAKES EXCEPTIONALLY IMAGINATIVE USE OF THE BARNES SPACE AND EVEN ITS AUDIENCE—THIS IS SITE-SPECIFIC THEATER AS IT SHOULD BE.”
— PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER 2017
“ONE OF OUR MORE AMBITIOUS AND EFFECTIVE YOUNGER DIRECTORS”
— NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 2017
“THE EDGY AND IMAGINATIVE YOUNG DIRECTOR R. B. SCHLATHER”
— NEW YORKER MAGAZINE, APRIL 2017
“A NEW PRODUCTION OF THE OPERA THIS MONTH BY THE CURTIS INSTITUTE OF MUSIC IN PHILADELPHIA IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN ALL THAT I’VE SEEN BEFORE, DUE TO THE UNUSUAL DIRECTION BY R. B. SCHLATHER.”
— THE OPERA CRITIC, MARCH 2017
“IT WAS AS DEEPLY MOVING AND DISTURBING AN OPERA PERFORMANCE AS I’VE HEARD THIS SEASON, THANKS TO A SUBTLE BUT DEVASTATING STAGING BY DIRECTOR R. B. SCHLATHER. ”
— JAMES JORDEN, NEW YORK OBSERVER, AUGUST 2016
“HIS STAGING BRILLIANTLY MAGNIFIED THE IMPACT OF LANG’S PIECE...LANG’S PIECE CAME ALIVE FOR ARTISTS AND AUDIENCE IN WAYS THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE HAD THE TWO BEEN SEPARATED BY THE FORMAL DISTANCE OF A TRADITIONAL PROSCENIUM THEATER...EXCITEMENT IN THE CROWD WAS PALPABLE.”
— JORDAN LEVIN, MIAMI HERALD, JUNE 2016
“STRONG WORK IS BEING DONE HERE, NOT LEAST IN PROMOTING TALENTS LIKE MR. SCHLATHER…”
— DAVID ALLEN, NEW YORK TIMES, NOVEMBER 2015
“SCHLATHER’S EYE FOR SPACE AND MOVEMENT HELP RETAIN THE STORY’S FOOTHOLD IN MYTH…THE OPERA IS FRAMED WITH RESTRAINT, AND IN WAYS THAT ALLOW IT TO SOUND ITS OWN DISTINCTIVE, MESMERIZING VOICE”
— JEREMY EICHLER, BOSTON GLOBE, NOVEMBER 2015
“R. B. SCHLATHER COULD CAUSE AN OPERATIC REVOLUTION.”
— HUFFINGTON POST, MAY 2015
“HIS SINGERS OFFER UNAFRAID, IMPASSIONED PERFORMANCES THAT SPEAK TO SCHLATHER’S ABILITY TO DEMOLISH THE BARRIERS OF PROPRIETY AND POLITENESS THAT SEEM TO PLAGUE MUCH OF TRADITIONAL OPERATIC EXPERIENCE.”
— OPERA TODAY, APRIL 2015
“THE STAGING PUT GREAT PHYSICAL DEMANDS ON THE SINGERS, WHO CLIMBED AND CRAWLED ON, OVER, AROUND AND UNDER THE PLAYING AREA. IT IS TO MR. SCHLATHER’S IMMENSE CREDIT THAT ALL THIS ACTIVITY FELT UTTERLY ORGANIC. IF THERE’S ONE WORD TO SUM UP THE WHOLE ORLANDO EXPERIENCE, IT’S “STYLE.” EVERYTHING FIT, EVERYTHING WORKED TOGETHER…OPENING THE MIND TO THE INFINITE POSSIBILITY OF PERFORMANCE.”
— JAMES JORDEN, NEW YORK OBSERVER, MAY 2015
“CHARISMATIC, PASSIONATE, AND IMMENSELY INTELLIGENT, SCHLATHER’S CLEVER DIRECTORIAL INSTINCTS AND TALENT SEEM TO BE EXACTLY WHAT OPERA IN THE 21ST CENTURY NEEDS IN ORDER TO INSURE ITS SURVIVAL.”
— OUT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2015
“MR. SCHLATHER’S WORK HAS ALSO INHERITED …A MOOD OF ARTFUL MELANCHOLY, SHOT THROUGH WITH ANTIC HUMOR, AS WELL AS A GIFT FOR DRAWING OUT VIVID PERFORMANCES.”
— ZACHARY WOOLFE, THE NEW YORK TIMES, SEPTEMBER 2014