Artist and Opera director R. B. Schlather (b. 1986, Cooperstown, USA) is recognized for his innovations in the presentation of opera performance. His work is increasingly located in fine art spaces in dialogue with larger themes about Opera production, process, and access. He has been described as “having a gift for drawing our vivid performances” (New York Times), and an “ability to demolish the barriers of propriety and politeness that seem to plague much of traditional operatic experience (Opera Today).”
Upcoming performances include his debut with Wolf Trap Opera directing a double bill of Philip Glass’ The Juniper Tree and John Musto’s Bastianello, and with Opera Philadelphia developing a site-specific performance commission at the Barnes Foundation with composer-in-residence David Hertzberg for their inaugural September 017 festival. In November 2017 he stages the unique Virgil Thompson/Gertrude Stein collaboration The Mother of Us All at New York state’s oldest surviving theater at the Hudson Opera House.
In the 2016⁄17 season he made his directing debut with Curtis Opera Theater directing John Adams’ Doctor Atomic, and was an artist-in-residence at celebrated Williamsburg new music venue National Sawdust, staging Vasco Mendonca’s The House Taken Over, Philip Glass’ Madrigal Opera, and leading a workshop developing G. F. Handel’s Ariodante.
His 2016 staging of David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize winning the little match girl passion appeared at the Jack Shainman School | Gallery in Kinderhook, NY. This performance was originally commissioned and produced by Miami-based art song and vocal chamber music series Illuminarts as a week-long installation at the Perez Art Museum Miami where “the piece came alive for artists and audience in ways that would have been impossible in a traditional proscenium theater (Miami Herald).”
Recent productions include his directing debut with the Bard Music Festival at the Richard B. Fisher Center for Performing Arts staging versions of Turandot by Busoni and Puccini, and a program of new works by David T. Little and David Hertzberg for Opera Philadelphia. He directed Handel’s Semele with his regular collaborator conductor Geoffrey McDonald for the Ithaca College School of Music. An alumnus of the Ithaca College School of Humanities, Schlather was invited to join the faculty for the spring 2016 semester as a guest lecturer in performance studies.
His 2015 production for Boston Lyric Opera’s annex program of Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony was conceived as a site-specific performance at the historic Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts. Called “a striking success” by the Boston Globe, and “a true triumph in the company’s history,” it was named on both the Boston Classical Review and New York Times year-end lists of the best classical music performances of 2015.
Previous performance exhibitions include Orlando (2015), named in WQXR NYC’s “top 10 pivotal moments for Opera and classical performance 2015,” and Alcina (2014) at Whitebox Art Center NYC, called in the New York Times by art critic Holland Cotter “fascinating species of performance art,” and by classical music editor Zachary Woolfe “a valuable project that deserves enthusiastic support,” and “a gift given to the New York cultural scene.”
As a stage director he has professional affiliations with the Bard Music Festival at the Richard B. Fisher Center, Opera Philadelphia, Curtis Opera Theater, National Sawdust, Boston Lyric Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, English National Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Canadian Opera Company, Tanglewood Music Festival, New York City Opera, Gotham Chamber Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Portland Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, (le) Poisson Rouge, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, and Charlottesville Opera (formerly Ash Lawn Opera).
His solo performance DON’T CALL ME CRUEL, BABY was presented by Catch! (2015) and Prelude NYC (2015). He performed at the Guggenheim Museum and The Kitchen in Gerard & Kelly’s Timelining (2014⁄5). His work has been published by Emergency Index (2011). He lives and works in New York City and Hudson, NY. Mr. Schlather is a member of AGMA and represented by Columbia Artist Management, Inc.