Paul Curran is a graduate in Directing of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney, and of the Finnish National Opera, Helsinki. He was Artistic Director of the Norwegian National Opera from 2007 – 2011.
Curran’s extensive directorial credits include: a new production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar's Bride at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Tannhäuser at Teatro alla Scala, Milan; La Bohème, Billy Budd, Albert Herring and Peter Grimes for Santa Fe Opera; Die Frau ohne Schatten and Lulu with the Chicago Lyric Opera; Ariadne auf Naxos for Flanders Opera, Antwerp; Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Otello and Tosca for Canadian Opera; I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata for Teatro Comunale, Florence; Die Fledermaus and L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the Royal College of Music, London; Ariadne auf Naxos and Daphne (DVD) at Teatro La Fenice, Venice; Cherubin (DVD) in Cagliari; Peter Grimes and Otello at the Teatro Giuseppe Verdi, Trieste; Tosca with Canadian Opera; Peter Grimes with Washington Opera and Otello for the Welsh National Opera; Pastorale (world premiere) for Stuttgart Opera; Il Trovatore (DVD) at the Teatro dell’Opera, Rome, Teatro Comunale, Bologna and Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo; Tristan und Isolde, BBC Symphony Orchestra; La Finta Giardiniera with Garsington Opera; I Capuleti e i Montecchi at the Spoleto Festival, USA; A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Die Konigskinder (Humperdinck) which won the Premio Abbiati; La Statira (Cavalli) and La Cenerentola (DVD) at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples; Mirandolina (Martinu) and Eva (Foerster) at the Wexford Festival; The Miserly Knight (Rachmaninov) and A Florentine Tragedy (Zemlinsky) at Teatro Sao Carlos, Lisbon; Prince Igor and Tosca with the Kirov Opera; the British premiere of Kullervo (Aulis Sallinen) for UCO in London; Hamlet with designer Vivienne Westwood for the Clerkenwell Music Series; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Man of La Mancha at the Covent Garden Festival (also recorded on CD); I Gioielli della Madonna (Wolf-Ferrari) for UCO; and Rigoletto, Die Zauberflöte, The Bear (Chekhov) and The Rehearsal (a new play, both as writer and director) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at Disney Hall.
Last season’s highlights included Die Zauberflöte for Norwegian National Opera; Rusalka at the New National Theatre, Tokyo; Pagliacci at the Royal Danish Theatre; Tosca for the Canadian Opera Company; Albert Herring for LA Opera; a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Teatro Dell’Opera Roma; and Peter Grimes at the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Engagements in the 2012-13 season include new productions of La donna del lago for Sante Fe Opera and Tristan und Isolde for the Teatro La Fenice, Venice.
Paul Curran is represented by Intermusica.
November 2012 / 426 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Wagner Tristan und Isolde / Teatro La Fenice
cond. Myung-Whun Chung
“Scottish director Paul Curran and set and costume designer Robert Innes Hopkins wisely chose a simple but striking backdrop [that] intensified the claustrophobic nature of the Wagnerian landscape these characters inhabit.
More important, this refreshingly uncluttered approach placed the music at the heart of the production, allowing the orchestra [to] explore the full spectrum of Wagner’s ravishing score.
Curran’s decision to play up [the] two ill-fated lovers[’] antagonism towards each other when the opera opens, made the moment they fall for each other at the end of Act 1 even more dramatic”.
Susan Nickalls, Financial Times, November 2012
John Adams Nixon in China
BBC Proms / cond. John Adams
“Arguably the most influential opera of the last few decades, it has lost none of its power... There were some nice touches. Rather than attempt anything that resembled the landing of the presidential plane, Curran allowed Robert Orth's grinning Nixon to present Gerald Finley's bemused Chou En-lai with a toy aircraft as a gift. Jessica Rivera's Pat Nixon, sightseeing in Beijing, went on a handshake walkabout among the promenaders.”
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, September 2012
Britten A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Teatro dell’Opera di Roma / cond. James Conlon
“There had been a previous, almost forgotten production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Rome, at the Teatro Nazionale in 1999, but there was no comparison between that and the one that opened at the Teatro dell’Opera on June 19, conducted by James Conlon and produced by Paul Curran: a wonderful staging from every point of view, with as cast that acted and sang superbly”.
Luigi Bellingardi, Opera, November 2012
“Paul Curran’s direction follows the libretto, but in a refreshingly liberated and meticulous manner.”
Paolo Isotta, Corriere della sera
, June 2012
“The exceptional direction of the singers and their balanced casting stand out as a great achievement of this production; they switch between moments of gracefulness, of sensuality and of humoristic scenes, culminating in the burlesque depiction of the artisans’ scene.”
Cédric Manuel, Forum Opéra, June 2012
“Very convincing direction by Paul Curran... The fairy-tale element so beautifully evoked by the music was wonderfully complemented by Paul Curran’s direction. He lent the right spirit to this spectacle...”
Claudio Listanti, La Voce, June 2012
“Paul Curran does a wonderful job with the singers, whose every move is truthfulness and naturalness...”
Mauro Mariani, Giornale della Musica, June 2012
“A convincing staging, which captures the hidden resources of the libretto.”
Alejo Palau, Mundoclasico.com, July 2012
“Paul Curran’s direction illustrated the story in a linear way but still succeeded in highlighting the different worlds (of fairies, lovers and artisans) to a very high degree...”
Francesco Giudiceandrea, GB Opera, June 2012
“... energetic, humorous and very enjoyable direction by Paul Curran...”
Mario Dal Bello, Il Sole 24 ore, June 2012
Britten Albert Herring
Los Angeles Opera / cond. James Conlon
“Paul Curran’s production is terrific, particularly citing clever blocking and fluid set changes melding the acts together during interludes.”
Christie Grimstad, Concertonet.com, February 2012
Canadian Opera Company / cond. Paolo Carignani
“Strengthened at all points by … the staging. Curran’s deployment of the chorus was superb”
Robert Everett – Green, The Globe and Mail, January 2012
Puccini La Boheme
Santa Fe / cond. Leonardo Vordoni
“Director Paul Curran and his creative team have made an already tight script and score glow like a warm candle. Scene changes are so swift, if you look away for a second, you'll miss the transformation of Rodolfo's claustrophobic garret into a lively Parisian street.”
Judith Reynolds, The Durango Herald, July 2011
Rimsky-Korsakov The Tsar's Bride
Royal Opera House / cond. Mark Elder
“A Russian rarity proves to be a real treasure in a production set amid the trappings of new money.”
“Mr. Curran, in his overdue Covent Garden debut, ensures that the modern accouterments are tellingly used to work hand-in-hand with a taut staging of the core drama.”
George Loomis, New York Times, April 2011
…[a] compelling study of power and powerlessness in Curran's staging.
…this is a riveting performance of a violent, delirious melodrama.”
Anna Picard, The Independent, April 2011
“It's tawdry, flashy, trashy and menacing. Bodyguards dress in black suits and expensive shades, bulging with muscle and gun. It's a clever solution and gives an exciting dimension to this ponderous work, in which the "happy couple" remain as vital as miniature plastic figures on top of a wedding cake.”
Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, April 2011
“…throws the old and new of this exciting evening into startling relief”
Edward Seckerson, The Independent, April 2011
“The operas of Rimsky-Korsakov are traditionally synonymous with enchanted fairytale settings and chocolate-box stagings. To think outside the box of magic realism takes some courage but that is what Paul Curran has done in his remarkable new production of The Tsar's Bride.
It's true that this opera is a tragedy rather than one of the lightweight comedies, but Curran has chosen to explore the darker side of the work by relocating the action from the court of Ivan the Terrible to contemporary Russia.
Curran's boldly imaginative production”
Barry Millington, Evening Standard, April 2011
“As Elaine Padmore’s tenure as the ROH’s director of opera comes towards an end, this new production of a major rarity is a reminder of the expertise and imagination she has brought to her work.
It’s a fortuitous combination, because Curran and designer Kevin Knight bring contemporary Russia alive before our eyes, seeing parallels between the repressive mayhem of the reign of Tsar Ivan the Terrible and the blend of vulgarity and violence associated with the modern Russian mafia.
Dramatically, the evening rises steadily up to Marfa’s searing final mad scene, Curran charting its slow burn with unerring skill.”
George Hall, The Stage, April 2011
“Paul Curran’s lavish production ignores the nostalgia for the ancien regime which Rimsky’s score emanates (the anthem “Slava!” functions as a leitmotiv and there are several pseudo-folk tunes). Instead he opts for a grittily contemporary approach, evoking the gloss and squalor of Putin’s Moscow through Kevin Knight’s magnificent sets (a posh restaurant, a back street, a penthouse suite, a gilded palace), complete with table-dancers and mafia heavies.”
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, April 2011
“Taking a work by Rimsky-Korsakov that is almost unknown outside Russia and has never before been performed at Covent Garden might seem a risky venture for the ROH, but the production directed by Paul Curran surpasses all expectations.”
William Hartston, The Express, April 2011