DAVID EDWARDS works internationally as a freelance director, writer and presenter. He was born in London and graduated in Classics from Cambridge University. David has directed opera around the world, in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, Houston, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, London (revivals of Arabella, Attila, Fedora, Katya Kabanova, Der Rosenkavalier, Samson et Dalila, Simon Boccanegra, Stiffelio and Die Walküre for The Royal Opera, Covent Garden), Milan, Vienna, Singapore and regularly in Tokyo at the New National Theatre where he taught on the Young Artists’ programme for over a decade. His original scripts have been performed in London, Aldeburgh, Eastbourne and Presteigne (Wagner & Berlioz, Verdi in Venice, Wagner, Britten & the Sea, From Bayreuth to Busseto, Verdi’s Singers on Record, Verdi’s Trills, Wagner in Exile, Nolan and the Stage, Wagner’s Elements, Breaking The Ring, An Operatic Bestiary, Wagner and the Dream King, Mahler and opera staging, Parsifal Act 3: Time and Space). David was Artistic Director of Inside The Ring, a series of special events that ran concurrently with Longborough Festival Opera’s Ring cycle, in summer 2013. He has been Production Director for The Mastersingers since 2006 and for many years was a regular tutor at the Motley Theatre Design Course in London.
David acted as an adjudicator for the National Opera Association awards from 2019 – 2022. In 2023, he returned to the New National Theatre Tokyo in July to direct a program of opera scenes with Young Artists at the Opera Studio. In September he co-ordinated a weekend of events Opera Unmasked for Mastersingers in Aldeburgh and in November staged the world premiere of Edward Lambert’s opera Masque of Vengeance in London and Manchester.
Projects interrupted by the pandemic include productions of Duke Bluebeard’s Castle for a festival in London and Riders to the Sea in Aldeburgh’s Jubilee Hall as part of a weekend of musical events that David was curating for Opera Cameratina. Post-pandemic he was engaged as Front of House Manager at the Farnham Maltings from 2022 – 2023.
In 2019 David directed Die Zauberflöte at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts and in the previous year he directed Verdi’s Falstaff in a new production for Opera Colorado, Denver and was Artistic Director for the 80thanniversary of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore, where he staged a contemporary production of Die Fledermaus. He also directed Lili Boulanger’s rarely performed cantata Faust et Hélène in Paris.
In 2017 David curated a weekend of events entitled Culture and the Third Reich at University College, London bringing musicians and academics to contribute to an examination of art under the Nazis. He produced Alberich at Eighty, a celebration of opera singer Malcolm Rivers’ career, featuring Sir John Tomlinson, Susan Bullock CBE and other notable artists from the opera world. David directed Hansel and Gretel for the Celebrate Voice Festival in Salisbury and taught an opera scenes programme at Associated Studios in London.
In 2016 David directed Pélleas et Mélisande with the LA Philharmonic and Faith – Stravinsky’s late religious music with the Philharmonia, both conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mendelssohn/Shakespeare) in Middle Temple Hall, Carmen for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Tosca at Chiswick House, London. Other projects have included Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Il Prigioniero and Die Walküre (Act 3) with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Fidelio, Rigoletto and Carmen with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (narration and semi-staging), Dialogues des Carmélites and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Britten) for Portland State University (as the Jeannine Cowles Distinguished Visiting Professor of Opera), Tosca and La Traviata for Diva Opera touring the U.K. and Europe, Curlew River in Orford Church and in Tokyo (with Japanese singers), The Ballad of Little Musgrave (Britten/Jon Boden) and a new play by A.J. Evans Dress Rehearsal in London.
Projects for 2015 included Spring Awakening, a compilation of poetry and music with Sara Kestelman in London, Das Rheingold and a complete Die Walküre for Secret Opera in Cardiff and London, Bayreuth or Bust for both the Manchester and London Wagner Societies, scenes from Boris Godunov for the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Jakub Hrůša at the Royal Festival Hall, London, a repeat of The Catfish Conundrum at the Brighton Festival, Ed Lambert’s Opera with a Title for the Tête-à-Tête Festival in London and a lecture-recital Parsifal: Time becomes Space, also in London.
Projects in 2014 included Les Contes d’Hoffmann for Diva Opera, La Rondine with Oberlin in Italy, Pélleas et Mélisande semi-staged for the Philharmonia to great critical acclaim, Die Zauberflöte for Opéra Bastide in Bordeaux, The Catfish Conundrum, a new opera by Edward Lambert at the Tête-à-Tête Festival in London, The Merry Widow in Singapore, Padmavati (Roussel) with Opéra Orr in France and scenes from Die Walküre for Secret Opera in London. David also curated a weekend of events at Aldeburgh entitled Après le déluge, examining music and art at the turn of the 20thcentury and he scripted presentations of Wagner and the Dream King, about the composer’s relationship with King Ludwig II, and Gluck at 300, a celebration of the tercentenary of Christoph Willibald von Gluck, both in London.
Previous engagements include productions of Verdi’s Falstaff for the New National Theatre, Tokyo and also for Diva Opera (2010). David directed Will Todd’s rock opera The Screams of Kitty Genovese for the Tête-à-Tête Festival at the Riverside Studios, London and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He devised a workshop on Tristan und Isolde for the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra in Birmingham. In 2008/9 David directed The Pilgrim’s Progress (Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Richard Hickox at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London), Dido and Aeneas (Temple Festival, London), Simon Boccanegra (San Francisco Opera) and La Cenerentola (Opera Memphis). He also wrote and curated a Wagner weekend at Aldeburgh. In 2007/8: Albert Herring (New National Theatre, Tokyo), Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Singapore Lyric Opera), La Traviata (Diva Opera), Die Walküre (Act 1) (Singapore Symphony Orchestra), scripted events for a music festival in Presteigne, presentations at Covent Garden for Wagner Day, a programme Wagner’s Prima Donna on the career of Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient and David’s own Wagner/Verdi compilation From Bayreuth to Busseto, all performed in London.
1997 – 2006 productions included The Screams of Kitty Genovese (New York Music Theatre Festival – Outstanding Production Award), Le Nozze di Figaro (Singapore), Lucrezia Borgia (Minnesota), I Capuleti ed I Montecchi and Rigoletto (Tulsa), I Pagliacci and Goyescas (Central City, Colorado), Der fliegende Holländer (San Diego), Carmen (Philadelphia), Dialogues des Carmélites, Faust (Portland), Simon Boccanegra, Arabella, L’italiana in Algeri and The Merry Wives of Windsor (San Francisco), Attila (Chicago), Fedora (Washington, Los Angeles), Stiffelio (Los Angeles), Die Zauberflöte (Tokyo), Alcina (Lucca), Will Todd’s The Blackened Man (Buxton Festival), Richard Chew’s Mary Seacole (Linbury), L’amour de loin (Barbican), The Queen of Spades & I (New End, Hampstead), Hänsel und Gretel, Royal Palast (Weill), Propheten (Weill ed. Drew), Iolanthe and Porgy and Bess (BBC Proms), Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Die Entführung aus den Serail (Glyndebourne Tour) and Parsifal (Palace Opera). Guest engagements have included La Scala Milan and Staatsoper Wien (Stiffelio) and Teatro Communale Bologna (Simon Boccanegra).
David has written and presented programmes on Wagner in Exile, The Life and Loves of Richard Wagner, Sir Sidney Nolan and the Stage, Wagner’s Dreamers, Wesendonck Lieder/ Les nuits d’été, Wagner’s Early Songs, Verdi in Venice, Verdi’s Trills, Herr Mozart Doktor Strauss, Verdi’s Singers on Record, Wagner’s Gods, From Bayreuth to Busseto, Breaking the Ring, An Operatic Bestiary (Verdi, Wagner & Britten), Wagner and the Dream King, Bayreuth or Bust, Après le déluge, Gluck at 300, Strauss & Sibelius – Parallel Lives, Mahler and the opera stage, Otello and Falstaff: the twins of Verdi’s old age and highlights from Das Liebesverbot in London, a symposium on Wagner, Britten and the Sea at Aldeburgh as well as Exiled in America, Wagner & Berlioz and Opera at the Movies for the Chicago Humanities Festival.
A passionate advocate for new music, David has been involved in the nurturing and production of many new compositions, including Edward Lambert’s The Catfish Conundrum and Opera with a Title, Richard Chew and SuAndi’s Mary Seacole (Battersea Arts Centre, Linbury Studio, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and Gateshead Festival); Mutabaruka and Christopher Taylor’s The Last Supper (Decibel, Birmingham) and Tunde Jegede and Lawrence Coke’s Cry of Innocence (Greenwich) – all these with Gyenyame for Performing Arts; Will Todd and David Simpatico’s The Screams of Kitty Genovese (New York Music Theatre Festival, Tête-à-Tête Festival, London and Edinburgh Festival Fringe), Will Todd and Ben Dunwell’s The Blackened Man (Linbury Studio and Buxton Festival), Pusilla (Opera Genesis at the Jerwood Space) and The Woodlanders (National Opera Studio workshop).
Young artist development has always been an important part of David’s work, ranging from designers at the Motley Theatre Design Course to singers at the National Opera Studio, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Merola in San Francisco, Oberlin College in Italy, Academy of Performing Arts in Hong Kong, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore and the opera and drama studios at the New National Theatre, Tokyo. The history of theatre design is a particular enthusiasm as is the development of opera production in the 20thcentury.
David began his career in Stage Management for The Royal Opera (1979–86) before joining Glyndebourne Festival Opera as Staff Director, where he worked for five years (1987–92) assisting and restaging in the main Festival and directing for the touring company. He staged the annual Showcase for the National Opera Studio in 1989. David then returned to Covent Garden as Staff Director (1992–97), becoming a freelance director when the old theatre in Bow Street closed for renovation in 1997. He staged the re-opening Gala for the Royal Opera in the new theatre in 2001. He has also written many surtitle scripts for the Royal Opera. He is Production Director (2006 – present) for Mastersingers (http://www.mastersingers.org.uk), a charitable organisation dedicated to supporting and mentoring the development of young singers into the German Romantic and Wagnerian repertoire. David completed the Birkbeck Arts Administration and Management module with Merit in 2006 and has a fundraising diploma from the DSC. He served as a Governor at Potters Gate C of E Primary School in Farnham, Surrey for eight years and holds a valid DBS certificate. David is a dedicated runner, a rather rusty pianist and an enthusiast of art history and contemporary visual art.