Renowned stage director, Robert B. Driver recently directed the closing
production of the 2010-2011 Opera Company of Philadelphia Season with the muchanticipated
American Premiere of Hans Werner Henze's Phaedra based on the classic
Greek myth. The new production reunited Driver with designer Philippe Amand, the
team that created the 2010 production of Orphée et Eurydice which had The Philadelphia
Inquirer proclaiming, “In the world's most complicated art forms, simplicity is tough.
But that's what is called for in Willibald Christoph Gluck's Orphee et Eurydice, an
occasion for which the Opera Company of Philadelphia made pared-back production
values not just a virtue but an eloquent artistic statement."
Robert Driver has been with the Opera Company of Philadelphia since 1991.
Under his leadership as General and Artistic Director the Opera Company tripled its
number of performances, and became a principal tenant at the Academy of Music,
America's oldest opera house, where he increased its audience space while expanding to
also produce chamber operas in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater, an intimate, 600-
seat venue – both located at the heart of Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts.
December 6, 2016, the Board of Directors's of the Indianapolis Opera requested that Robert come on board as "Artistic and New Initiatives Advisor" to the newly appointed General Director, David Starkey. Robert served as General/Artistic director of the Company for ten years before his appointment as General/Artistic Director of The Opera Company of Philadelphia ( now Opera Philadelphia) in 1991.
In 2017 Robert directs "Die Entführung aus dem Serail" in Italy for the the Teatro Comunale of Treviso, in January and Ferrara in February.
2018 At the invitation of General Director, David Devan, Mr Driver joined Opera Philadelphia’s Legato Committee to work to build an endowment for the Company through legacy gifts.
NEW PROJECTS : Mr. Driver is working on a project to produce a new Brazilian Chamber Opera. Porto Alegre composer Vagner Cunha and playwright Antonio Rocca are working on "The Beautiful Stranger" ( "A Estranha") in Portuguese with an English version in the works.. The first piano workshop is being planned in 2015 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
2018 Mr Driver is working with alma mater Middlebury College’s foreign language departments to translate materials about new American operas to stimulate and support international awareness of America’s contribution to new operatic works. Middlebury is introducing a special translation program with an artistic emphasis as of January 2019 at its Vermont campus.
BACKGROUND: Serving as assistant stage director to Günther Rennert, Rudolph Hartmann, and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Mr. Driver cut his teeth on opera as an assistant director at Munich's Bayerische Staatsoper. After returning to the United States he went on to serve as assistant director of the Kentucky Opera and associate director of the Kansas City Lyric Opera. Among his earlier triumphs Mr. Driver counts the establishment of th first opera cooperative among three cities under one artistic director with the Syracuse Opera, Indianapolis Opera, and Opera Memphis. In 1987 Mr. Driver founded the National Center for the Development of American Opera in Memphis.
PRODUCTIONS & INNOVATIONS: As a stage director, Robert Driver has
directed countless productions throughout North America, Europe and Brazil, including
the Opera Company of Philadelphia's recent productions of Falstaff, Fidelio, L’Enfant et
les Sortilèges / Gianni Schicchi, La traviata, Orphée & Eurydice, Otello, and Phaedra.
Mr. Driver has directed a number of premieres including the Philadelphia
Premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s esteemed 20th Century masterpiece, Susannah. He also led
the Company to its first commission of new work in 25 years with Margaret Garner, a
new American opera by Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour with a libretto
by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, based on the tragic story of a fugitive slave. In addition
to co-commissioning the opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia presented its East
Coast Premiere in February 2006 in what The Philadelphia Inquirer described as "…
arguably the biggest cultural event ever to hit Philadelphia."
The following season brought with it the East Coast Premiere of another
new American work, David DiChiera and Bernard Uzan’s Cyrano, as well as the
Philadelphia Premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Grammy-winning opera Ainadamar,
produced in a first-time collaboration between the Curtis Institute of Music, Opera
Company of Philadelphia and Kimmel Center Presents at the Kimmel Center’s intimate
Perelman Theater. In 2010 the American premiere of Hans Werner Henze’s Phaedra
proved to be an East coast sensation when it was reviewed in the New York Times, the
Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.
ARTISTIC COLLABORATIONS: In 2002 a highly-acclaimed Don Giovanni (view photos) was the
result of a collaboration between Mr. Driver and renowned artist Rafal Olbinski in his
U.S. stage design debut.
Mr. Driver also collaborated with critically-acclaimed international artist Jun
Kaneko to realize a new Fidelio (view photos)which opened the Opera Company’s 2008-2009 Season.
He then directed the closing production of that season with an innovative doublebill
by pairing Ravel’s L'Enfant et les sortileges (view photos) with Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi (view photos). Brought
to life in collaboration with set designer Guia Buzzi and video designer Lorenzo Curone,
the production was praised by The Philadelphia Inquirer, which said, “Under Robert B.
Driver's highly specific direction, the smallest characters projected their own sense of
This same team created a rousing co-production of The Abduction from the
Seraglio (view photos) in Treviso, Italy, in the fall of 2010 and for Philadelphia to be seen in the spring of 2012
Another highly successful collaboration with the designer, Philippe Amand,
resulted in the stylistically beautiful productions of Orphée & Eurydice (view photos)in 2009 and
Phaedra (view photos) in 2011
ARTISTIC MENTORING: Each season Robert Driver serves on countless audition
panels and is frequently asked to judge vocal competitions from Philadelphia to Treviso,
Italy. An avid supporter and mentor to young singers, Mr. Driver is known for his early
identification and casting of emerging artists who have gone on to major careers. He has
maintained a close relationship with rising stars from Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of
Music as well as The Academy of Vocal Arts, and cast them in supporting roles in order
to provide rehearsal and performance experience, both here and abroad, under the
auspices of a major opera company.