The Work

Directing ; Opera and Music

Bartlett’s theatre work has often been noted for its operatic theatricality, and recently he has begun directing full-scale opera alongside his theatre work  - Stravinsky and Britten at Aldeburgh  and the Edinburgh Festival, Tchaikovsky at Opera North and the Barbican.

His theatre work has found many different ways to brings music and musicality to the stage. His lavish 2004 Boston staging of  Dido, Queen of Carthage was underscored by a live consort of viols playing the music of seventeenth century composer William Lawes ; his music-theatre projects  at the Lyric Hammersmith included  the now-legendary Sarrasine ( with composer Nicolas Bloomfield) ,a stage realisation of Britten’s Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo , sung by tenor Toby Spence, and  collaborations with The Tiger Lillies,The Kronos Quartet, Linda Thompson, Martha Wainwright and Justin Bond. More recently, he has created The Girl I left Behind Me  for the soprano Jessica Walker and collaborated on stage projects with both pianist Mikhail Rudy  and conductor Sir Mark Elder  and The Halle Orchestra ( The Pianist and The Madness of an Extraordinary Plan,  both commissioned by the Manchester International Festival.


Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage
American Repertory Theatre, Boston 2005

Sarrasine ( 1991)

In 2006, he was invited to stage his first professional opera ; The Rake’s Progress, for the Aldeburgh Festival, with the Philharmonia Orchestra. He returned in October 2009 to create a new production of Britten's The Turn of the Screw , staged in the intimate surroundings of the new studio- theatre  at Snape.


Stravinsky/Auden : The Rake’s Progress
Aldeburgh Festival 2006


The Turn of the Screw Aldeburgh 2009

The Turn of the Screw Aldeburgh 2009

The Turn of the Screw Aldeburgh 2009

In 2011 Neil staged  his first grand opera, directing Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades for Opera North, with Jeff Lloyd Roberts, Orla Boylan and Dame Josephine Barstow leading the company . The production  was designed by Kandis Cook, choreographed by Leah Hausman and transferred to London's Barbican in November 2011,

In 2013 he collaborated with Ian Bostridge, Iestyn Davies and Julius Drake to create a new staging of Britten's five Canticles. With contributions from lighting designer Paule Constable, Frantic Assembly's Scott Graham, choreographer Wendy Houston and painter John keane, this unique staging opened at the Brighton Festival, played at the Snape maltings as part of the Britten centenary celebrations and then transferred to the Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House.


The Britten Canticles 2013. With Ian Bostridge; Brighton Festival, Aldeburgh, ROH.

The Britten Canticles 2013. Brighton Festival, Aldeburgh, ROH.

The Britten Canticles; Ian Bostridge. Film by John Keane

In 2014 he staged Britten's Owen Wingrave for the Aldeburgh Festival  in an acclaimed production which then transferred to the Edinburgh Festival. The controversial pacifist opera was conducted by Mark Wigglesworth, and the cast included Janis Kelly, Susan Bullock and Jonathan Summers..

For a full chronology of Neil Bartlett’s opera and  music-theatre productions, please got to his CV in ABOUT NEIL