Thaddeus Strassberger (born 1976) is an American opera director and scenic designer. In 2005 he was awarded the European Opera Directing Prize by Opera Europa for his work on Opera Ireland's production of Rossini's La Cenerentola.
Born to parents of Cherokee descent, Strassberger grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1994. He went on to earn a bachelors degree from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. He won a Fulbright Fellowship which enabled him to study scenic design at La Scala in Milan in 2001. During the first several years of his career he worked as an assistant director for opera productions at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, La Fenice in Venice, the Teatro Lirico in Cagliari, the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, the Houston Grand Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, and Santa Fe Opera among others.
Career as opera director
In 2005 Strassberger directed a new production of Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto for Opera Colorado and restaged the Badisches Staatstheater's production of Michael Nyman's Man and Boy: Dada at the National Theatre in Prague. In 2007 he directed the rarely mounted Rossini opera La gazzetta at the Rossini in Wildbad Festival, a production which was recorded by Naxos Records for release on DVD. That same year he was the director and scenic designer for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production of Aida, Theater Augsburg's production of Christoph Willibald Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, and Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden's mounting of La Cenerentola.
In 2008 Strassberger was the director for Wolf Trap Opera's production of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos and was the director and scenic designer for Opéra de Montréal's production of Giacomo Puccini's La Fanciulla del West, and Arizona Opera's production of La traviata. He also served as the director for Arizona Opera's mounting of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Magic Flute, an opera he had previously directed at both Utah Opera and Madison Opera in 2006.
During the 2009-2010 season, Strassberger directed Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Norwegian National Opera, Giacomo Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots at the Bard SummerScape Festival, and Hector Berlioz's Les nuits d'été at Opera Azuriales. He also worked as both director and scenic designer for Puccini's Turandot at Theater Augsburg and Ambroise Thomas's Hamlet at the Washington National Opera conducted by Plácido Domingo.
In 2010-2011, he returned to the Norwegian National Opera to direct and design The Rape of Lucretia and made his Austrian debut with the Tiroler Landestheater with a new production of La fanciulla del West, while in 2012 he directed Nabucco for the Washington National Opera, and a third new production for Bard Summerscape, Chabrier's Le roi malgré lui.
His approach to the repertoire
In the June issue of the British magazine, Opera, which examines recent repertoire trends which reveal a move towards the rare and unusual, Strassberger makes the following observation regarding the staging of some of them:
- "I love these works and they give me the freedom to turn up as a director and put them on stage without having to un-engineer what people thought they were going to be. The audience can focus on what they are experiencing rather than making comparisons with the past."
Work with opera singer training programs
Strassberger has also served on the staffs of several programs for opera singers in training. In 2006 he joined the faculty of the International Vocal Arts Institute (IIVA) in Tel Aviv where he directed the school's opera productions for two years. He has also directed operas at the IIVA in Chiari, Lombardy, Italy and for the Opera Theatre of Lucca.