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STEVEN STEAD FOR ENGLISH NATIONAL (article first published : 2001-02-28)

Former Durban actor Steven Stead, seen in ThemI Venturas’s production of Hamlet last year, is to stage a new production of The Marriage of Figaro at the English National Opera this November.

“The offer arose because the revival of the old Graham Vick production that I was due to do has been cancelled due to technical constraints,” explains Steven from London. “In its place I was asked to come up with a concept using company resources and the revival budget (slightly amplified), which I have done, and has been accepted by Nicholas Payne our General Director.

“The show will use company artists almost exclusively - mostly young, exciting singers - who will be glad to work on a non-traditional, subversive version of this fantastic opera, directed by a young director with whom they are all comfortable. I am thrilled and very excited! It's a great opportunity for me and should be very good for the company as well. In so many ways it is the culmination of my whole career to date!”

The design team is mainly in-house, except for lighting designer Farley Whitfield who is coming over from New York to do the show. “Farley is also a Durban boy”, explains Seven. “I did Salome and Dracula with him for Bluff Drama in Durban. More Durban connections come in the shape of Steven’s ballet dancer brother Rory, who will be doing some conceptual costume designs. The show goes into rehearsal on October 1 to open on November 9.

Steven Stead has been living in Europe for six and a half years – one year in Greece, five in the UK. During that time, he acted for two years playing roles as diverse as Hamlet and Joseph in Dreamcoat before he turned to directing.

He was engaged as a staff director at the English National Opera in 1997and joined the permanent company in 1998. ENO is based at the Coliseum, the biggest theatre on London’s West End. Steven has in effect resigned with effect from July but will continue an association with the ENO on a free-lance basis over the next two years.

“I hope to live in South Africa, and commute back to work for ENO,” says Steven. “I am due to revive Falstaff and La Traviata next season, as well as direct this new production of Figaro at the Coliseum in October/November.”




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