Ian directed the London Première of the Bricusse/Newley Broadway Musical THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT - THE SMELL OF THE CROWD at the Finborough Theatre in July 2011.
Ian Judge's beautifully crafted production is a joy to behold. From the first seconds when the small group of urchins in the show's Circle of Life sing an invitation to enter the "Beautiful Land" right up to the final denoument of sweet rebirth, the audience is totally captivated by the magic and sheer theatricality that feasts their eyes and ears.
Ian Judge has recently directed the North American Premiere of Franz Schreker's DIE GEZEICHNETEN(The Stigmatised) for LA Opera in April 2010. The production has received very enthusiastic reviews.
The production is the latest in LA Opera's Recovered Voices series conducted by James Conlon, and features design projections by Wendall Harrington.
The cast includes Robert Brubaker, Anja Kampe and Martin Gantner.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Britten Theatre, London
Thursday, 09 July 2009 18:40
A darkened stage, a dozen imps in distressed doublets, a faint mist, a tang of sexual tension, a drowsy glissando and a heavy midsummer moon.
Lit by Mark Doubleday and conducted by Michael Rosewell, Ian Judge's exquisite production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Royal College of Music was an example of just how enchanting less-is-more can be.
No designer was credited. Indeed everything was done with lights, punked-up Elizabethan costumes, a bicycle, a dog, and the movements of a young and enthusiastic cast.
If the mortals were a little rough-hewn, Alistair Digges made a delightful Flute/Thisbe and Anna Huntley a touching Hermia. As Oberon, Christopher Lowrey delivered a beguiling "On this bank", while Colette Boushell brightly rat-a-tat-tatted Titania's coloratura. The ensemble work was excellent and Trinity Boys Choir lively and sweet of voice.
I don't know what happens to college productions after their brief end-of-term runs but, like Jo Davies's Cunning Little Vixen and Martin Lloyd-Evans's The King Goes Forth to France, Judge's Dream should be seen again. Independent on Sunday - July 2009
Simon Boccanegra, Canadian Opera Company
Wednesday, 08 July 2009 10:14
How often does one experience an opera in which everything works — in which there is not one flaw either in the staging or in its musical dimensions?
Toronto’s Canadian Opera Company overwhelmed its audience with just such perfection in the production of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra that opened the company’s spring season in the still-new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
The staging, new at London’s Covent Garden a year ago, was directed by Ian Judge, who in addition to his credentials as one of today’s top international directors of opera, looks back on a quarter century with England’s Royal Shakespeare Company. Although the libretto for Boccanegra is largely by Francesco Maria Piave, Judge brought the insights of a major Shakespearean to Verdi’s 1881 revision of the work, first staged in Venice in 1857.
Judge has a strong sense of dramatic flow of “Boccanegra” and thus eschewed the divisions into acts and the in-between-curtains that traditionally interrupt it. With a single intermission after the curse that ends the Council scene, this was a staging, seen on May 3, that kept the audience almost breathlessly engaged throughout its three hours.
Sets by John Gunter were traditional with touches of modernity in sloping walls and a titled pillar. Lavishly rich costumes were by Deirdre Clancy. Nigel Levings was responsible for unusually effective lighting.
Judge brought Shakespearean majesty to the death of Boccanegra, an aspect clearly in the mind as he indicated in a program note on the opera: “It has all the qualities of a Shakespeare play. Verdi loved Shakespeare. He wrote [here] a Shakespeare drama in his own way, and that’s what is terrific.” This was indeed and in every way a terrific Boccanegra!
Tannhäuser, Teatro Real, Madrid 2009
Tuesday, 07 July 2009 14:24
"A new erotic, some might say pornographic, version of Wagner’s ‘Tannhäuser’ has had its royal premiere in the Teatro Real in Madrid. Queen Sofia was among the audience on Friday night for the work which opens directly into an orgy.
Directed by the Briton, Ian Judge, some critics said if anything he had erred on the conservative side, but the public told reporters that they had thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle. German tenor, Peter Seiffert, is considered to have one of the best voices of the moment.
Judge’s version is not that different from the one which Wagner created 150 years ago, with what is depicted on stage intended to be a faithful reproduction of reality. Tannhäuser is an artist dedicated to pleasure, who rebels against conventional and oppressive parts of society. Madrid society appeared however to understand him perfectly." - Typically Spanish
Ian Judge on Simon Boccanegra
Monday, 06 July 2009 09:52
On the day that I interviewed Ian Judge I attended one of The Royal Opera’s invaluable Insight Evenings held in the Clore Studio. The subject was Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and Ian was one of the speakers. No more authoritative contributor could be imagined since he is now staging the more familiar Revised Version of 1881 while utilising the production that has set designs by John Gunter and costumes by Deirdre Clancy and which he created at Covent Garden in 1997 for the 1857 Original Version.
But, despite his extensive knowledge, Ian warned the audience that his comments might well appear flippant. Had they assumed from that that his remarks would be entertaining and amusing, gossipy even, then they would have been correct. But anyone who took that description to indicate that Ian is someone not altogether serious would have been totally wrong for this man is a true professional who, caring passionately about his work, is at heart very serious indeed. It’s simply that the surface manner tends to hide the inner core and this may again be reflected in the fact that he goes out of his way to mention, to some extent jokingly, three matters central to his life: that he was adopted by loving foster parents, that he is rather short in height and that he left school at fourteen and had no further education.
That he chooses to emphasise these points may be a pre-emptive strike by somebody wary about how he is perceived, but the fact is that Ian’s career is one of exceptional achievement. This is quite clear from our talk and, if I am right in detecting this half-hidden sensitivity, then I would guess that it plays a key role in enabling him to respond in depth to those works of art that he stages, be they plays, musicals or operas.
When does a revival of Simon Boccanegra effectively turn into a new production? When the staging, the sets and costumes were conceived for Verdi's first version of 1857, and revised, as was the opera, for the definitive later version of 1881. Verdi's revision was one of the most startling instances of creative transformation in the history of the genre. The addition of the great Council Chamber Scene became the palpitating heart of the drama.
So Ian Judge's painterly production feels, and even looks, more fluid. Behind a broken picture frame and blood-smeared portrait of Genoa, John Gunter's tilted set does more than hint at instability. Italy is divided, and it's against that backdrop, with a few emblematic additions, that this sterling account of one of Verdi's greatest scores unfolds.
Its imperative and urgency is compounded by Judge's continuous action – as, for instance, when Boccanegra is declared Doge at the close of the Prologue, raised high above his adoring populace, only to disappear into its midst as bodies drift away like the intervening 25 years, to reveal his long-lost daughter Amelia – a beautiful image that serves to make the critical connection between the Prologue and the rest of the opera, and to underline how this love child will ultimately bring unity out of strife.
Podcast date - February 16th, 2007 "Director Ian Judge discusses LA Opera’s company premiere of Richard Wagner’s most voluptuous opera, Tannhäuser.
With only a week to go before opening night, Mr. Judge explains the challenges of putting together such a monumental work. He also vividly describes how he mirrors the opera’s musical eroticism on stage in his daring new production." - LA OPERA
Simon Boccanegra - Video Interview with Ian Judge
Saturday, 04 July 2009 14:47
Verdi's Simon Boccanegra is a tale of plots, rebellion, betrayal, assassination and passion.
In the class-driven battle for the control of 14th-century Genoa, the embattled Doge of the city also faces the consequences of his past as they lead -- through an estranged daughter, her competing suitors and a life-long enemy -- to his own death. Presented here by The Royal Opera in the version of 1881 and in a revision of Ian Judge's production from 1997 (whose Council Chamber setting will be seen at the Royal Opera House for the first time), Lucio Gallo takes on the demanding and impressive title role.
With Gabriele Adorno (Marcus Haddock), Amelia's lover, caught in the machinations of the villainous Paolo (Marco Vratogna) and the vengeful Fiesco (Orlin Anastassov), it makes for a potent combination of family drama and political intrigue, set to a rich Verdi score of melody and atmosphere.