Thaddeus Strassberger won the European Opera Prize in 2005 for direction and scenic design and earned a degree in Engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City; he received a Fulbright Fellowship to complete the Corso di Specializzazione per Scenografi Realizzatori at the Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 2001. Born in Oklahoma, USA, in 1976, Strassberger is a proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation. His work has taken him around to the world where he has created over 75 productions in more than fifteen countries.
Recent new productions include: BORIS GODUNOV and WERTHER (Tiroler Landestheater), NABUCCO starring Placido Domingo and Anna Pirozzi (Palau de las Arts Reina Sofia in Valenica), CARMEN (Danish National Opera), LA CLEMENZA DI TITO (LA Opera) and DEMON (Bard Summerscape, New York), SILENT LIGHT, a new work by Paola Prestini and Royce Vavrek (Banff Centre), LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST (NCPA Beijing) a fully immersive full-scale SALOME (Tulsa Opera).
He returns to direct and design a large scale open-air AIDA at Oper im Steinbruch Sankt Margarethen in 2024, where in 2021, he directed TURANDOT which was seen by nearly 100,000 people in the historic quarry amphitheatre in Burgenland near Vienna as well as broadcast live on ORF across Austria. He served as Creative Director for Riyadh Season Opening Parade Ceremonies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in October 2021. The event with a cast of nearly one thousand performers was produced by Balich Wonder Studios and was attended by over 500,000 live spectators and broadcast live on national television.
His production of SATYAGRAHA, the first production of a Philip Glass opera in Russia, won the 2014 Bravo Award for Best Production and was awarded two Golden Mask Awards. Also in Ekaterinburg he staged Weinberg’s THE PASSENGER, which was also seen at Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and Martinu's A GREEK PASSION in a new Russian translation. These productions remain in repertoire at the Ural Opera and have collectively played more than 200 performances to eager audiences.
Other past productions include: RIGOLETTO, ANDREA CHENIER and THE VOYAGE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE (Staatstheater Braunschweig), I DUE FOSCARI (Theater an der Wien, LA Opera, Palau de las Arts Valencia) and LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA, & DON GIOVANNI (The Norwegian Opera). World premieres include JFK (l’Opera de Montreal/Fort Worth) and GLARE (Covent Garden). UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, LES CONTES DE HOFFMANN, & PIQUE DAME (Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck), and HAMLET (Washington National Opera/Minnesota Opera/Fort Worth Opera/Lyric Opera of Kansas City. For Bard Summerscape, he created productions of LES HUGUENOTS, DER FERNE KLANG, LE ROI MALGRÉ LUI (co-produced with Wexford Festival), his widely acclaimed production of Sergei Tanejev’s monumental opera, THE ORESTEIA, the first staging of the neglected masterpiece to be seen outside of Russia, and Ethyl Smyth’s THE WRECKERS. This production of NABUCCO has been seen with LA Opera, Washington National Opera, Minnesota Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Florida Grand Opera, and l’Opera de Montreal.
He has also served as a Creative Consultant on several large scale ceremonies and performances in Saudi Arabia, helping to shape the creative identity of the emerging region. For Opera America, he has served on jury panels for grant awards totalling over half a million dollars. He has worked with the Young Artist Program participants in many major opera houses including LA Opera, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, The Minnesota Opera, The Houston Grand Opera, IVAI in Italy and Israel.
- September 2023
"Strassberger’s conception, however, was not solely an aesthetic one. In fact, he was careful to ensure that each of the opera’s seven scenes were crafted to furnish the audience with the necessary information to support the narrative and to provide symbols and images that allowed it to contextualize the work both within its specific historical setting, of Russia at the beginning of the 17th century, and within its wider historical framework, which meshed together periods of Russian history up to the present day."
- Opera Wire - Boris Godunov Review
"Few young stage directors in opera have demonstrated an intellectual drive to match Thaddeus Strassberger's."
- Opera News: 'Opera's Next Wave' Feature
“The Yekaterinburg production turned the opera into an enthralling spectacle from beginning to end. Rarely indeed, in my experience, have the diverse elements of opera — vocal soloists, chorus, orchestra, staging, decor, lighting and costumes — been brought together in such near-perfect unity.
Staging "Satyagraha" and also providing the decor was American director Thaddeus Strassberger. The action on stage was choreographed with enormous skill and moved seamlessly between the real and the imagined. And to that, Strassberger added decor of considerable beauty that seemed to arise organically from the action and the music, as well as work in perfect harmony with the sophisticated lighting designed by Moscow-based Yevgeny Vinogradov. The costumes of American Mattie Ulrich were particularly notable for their strict adherence to period design and their remarkably sensitive choice of colors.”
- The Moscow Times
"Director and scenery designer Thaddeus Strassberger made Act I look like a composite tour of Italian art museums, placing the action in gilded frames. But lest things become too predictable, the Act II curtain revealed the spectacularly smoldering wreckage of Rome after a fire. The penultimate scene found Vitellia’s gown bathed in electric crimson light, and the final crowd scene in full Roman costume was a complex, marble-tiled feast for the eyes...With not a weak spot in the cast, Mozart — and the legend of Emperor Titus — were well served. Go.
- The Los Angeles Times
"Stage director Thaddeus Strassberger made it a powerful musical and theatrical statement, placing it firmly among the most memorable events of the festival's eleven-year history."
- Opera News on The Oresteia
"Strongly cast and insightfully directed, Les Huguenots proved mesmerizing."
- The Wall Street Journal
Der ferne Klang, "directed by Thaddeus Strassberger and conducted by Leon Botstein, delivered the opera’s blast of intensity with enough affective power to make it clear that we’ve all been missing out."
- The New Yorker
"Director/designer Thaddeus Strassberger had a clear vision for this Hamlet, and the result is an outstanding production, in which Thomas' lush, Romantic music complements Strassberger's 20th-century setting and vice versa...Strassberger and the Washington National Opera deserve credit for allowing access to his work through this exciting, innovative production."
- The Washington Examiner
"Thaddeus Strassberger's busy, show-businessy production, performed on a revolving set of the hotel room, has a measure of visual spectacle necessary for an opera in which worlds collide. Again offering something entertaining for everyone, Strassberger blithely moves from the bizarre to the real, from melodrama to farce."
- The LA Times on JFK