Young Artist Profile: Stage Director Pedro Ribeiro on melding theatre and music
The Portuguese Stage Director reflects on two years with The Royal Opera.
Stage director Pedro Ribeiro is now in the final months of his time with the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. Since joining in 2011, he has directed productions in the Linbury Studio Theatre and assisted some of the world’s most renowned opera directors, including Francesca Zambello, Robert Carsen and John Copley. It’s a long way from his first experience of opera, which he describes as anything but positive: ‘It was awful. I never wanted to go to the theatre again’.
Pedro began studying music when he was five, playing both the piano and harp. He was also involved in theatre at school, and went on to take a BA in Theatre Production and Techniques, a Licenciatura degree in Stage Direction at the University of Oporto and the opera directing course of the Gulbenkian Foundation.
Despite his negative first impressions, Pedro now considers opera the perfect art form for him to work with. ‘It was always a fight between music and theatre. I would play in an orchestra or ensemble by day and then go and direct a play in the evening! I knew I needed something to combine them or else I would just go mad’, he explained.
Opera enables me to be immersed in theatre, music, arts and dance all at once. It fills me up.”
Pedro made his Royal Opera House debut with a staging of Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été in the Linbury. Since then, he has directed an evening of opera scenes in the smaller of the ROH’s two auditoriums as well as a concert performance on the Main Stage.
This Season, he has worked with Laurent Pelly on Meyerbeer’s epic Robert le diable and with Kasper Holten on Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. ‘After two years, your ears get used to hearing superstars like Angela Gheorghiu, or Krassimira Stoyanova, who recently sang Tatyana in Eugene Onegin. It’s overwhelming. You also have the best orchestra playing and amazing stage management behind you.’
Krassimira Stoyanova as Tatyana and Vigdis Hentze Olsen as Young Tatyana in Eugene Onegin © ROH / Bill Cooper 2013
Pedro is currently assisting director Daniele Abbado on his new production of Verdi’s Nabucco, which opens at Covent Garden on 30 March following its premiere at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. The opera, which is considered Verdi’s breakthrough work, is an historical epic and features an enormous chorus. ‘Organizing the schedule for such a large opera – with chorus, actors, children, principals and covers – is an all-consuming task,’ he explains.
The Jette Parker Young Artists Programme employs promising young artists as salaried members of the Royal Opera House, offering a tailored programme to help them develop and refine their skills. Pedro has language classes in Russian, Italian, French and German, attends stagecraft workshops and has sessions in the Alexander Technique and Mind Skills. ‘Where else can you be working and have all the coaching you want at the same time?’ he said. ‘It’s perfect!’.
Nabucco runs from 30 March – 26 April 2013. Pedro will also be assisting Associate Director of Opera John Fulljames on his new production of La donna del lago, which opens on 17 May. The Jette Parker Young Artists Programme is supported by the Oak Foundation.