Frederic Wake-Walker

Frederic Wake-Walker is a director and producer of opera, contemporary music theatre and multi-disciplinary performance working with a broad and diverse range of artists and contexts. He is Artistic Director of Mahogany Opera and one of the team behind Mica Moca. He was awarded Best Director at the inaugural Oper! Awards in 2019.


Engagements in the 2019/20 season include a revival of his production of La finta giardiniera with the Teatro alla Scala in Shanghai, a new production of Schubert’s Lazarus with Lonely Child by Vivier and his much-anticipated return to Glyndebourne Festival in a new production of Fidelio.

Opera productions in 2018/19 include La Finta Giardiniera (La Scala), Peter Grimes (Oper Koeln), The Messiah (Berlin Philharmonie with Deutsche Symphonie Orchester), Ariadne auf Naxos (Cleveland Orchestra and La Scala) with conductors Franz Welser-Moest, Diego Fasolis, Robin Ticciati and Nicholas Collon. Other previous productions include Eugene Onegin (Opera National du Rhin), Le nozze di Figaro (La Scala), La Finta Giardiniera (Glyndebourne Festival and Tour), Renard with Vladimir Jurowski (Konzerthaus Berlin) and Jephtha (Buxton Festival).

He is Artistic Director of Mahogany Opera with whom he has created a number of new works – Folie a Deux by Emily Hall and Sjon (Borealis Festival, Kulturhuset Stockholm, Sakrum Profanum Krakow, Spitalfields Festival London), Lost in Thought by Rolf Hind (Barbican London, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg), Mozart vs Machine by Dominic Robertson (Folkestone Fringe, High Tide Festival Aldeburgh, Sound Festival Aberdeen), On What Weft was Woven the Waters by Rolf Hind (Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival) and The Mother by Laurence Osborn and Theo Merz (POSK London).

Previous projects with Mahogany of extant work include Gloria – A Pigtale by Gruber (Bregenz Festspiele, Linbury Studio ROH, Buxton Festival), The Church Parables by Britten (Hermitage St Petersburg, Aldeburgh Festival, Buxton Festival, City of London Festival), Bow Down by Birtwistle (Brighton Festival, Latitude Festival, Spitalfeilds Festival, Norfolk and Norwich Festival) and Laborintus II by Berio (LSO St Luke’s), The Fox and The Bear by Stravinsky and Walton (The Village Underground).

A major part of his work with Mahogany involves working with children. Frederic has recently created 10 new Snappy Operas (ten-minute operas for children aged 8-11) with composers including Errollyn Wallen, Philip Venables, Gwyneth Herbert, Kerry Andrew and Stephen Deazley. He has also directed UK tours of Brundibar by Hans Krasa and a new version of Rumplestiltskin called The Rattler.

He is also one of the team behind Mica Moca with whom he has curated and directed various large-scale multi-disciplinary performances such as Mica Moca – project Berlin 2011, Nature au Galop – Paris 2016, Tempelhofer Wald 2019 and worked with many artists including dancers Ahmed Soura, Minako Seki, Rosabel Huguet, video designer Sylwek Luszak and jazz musicians Sofia Jernberg, Johannes Lauer and Richard Koch.

  • More info  
    25 Nov 18 BRITTEN Peter Grimes
    Opera Cologne

    “Umjubelte Premiere von Benjamin Brittens Oper Peter Grimes.

    In Köln hat der junge britische Regisseur Frederic Wake-Walker die zwiespältige Figur des Boarderliners Grimes, der Täter und Opfer zugleich ist, in einer Inszenierung auf die Bühne gebracht,die ein spannungsvolles Netz aus Emotionen knüpft, mal gallig komisch ist, mal aufwühlend, mal bewegend, mal gruselig wie ein Horrorfilm und am Ende zu Tränen rührt.

    Auch was die Zeichnung der anderen Charaktere angeht, ist Wake-Walker sehr detailgenau.”
    Bernhard Hartmann, Kölnische Rundschau, 27 July 2018

  • More info  
    08 Oct 18 MOZART La finta giardiniera
    Teatro alla Scala

    “Il regista britannico firma uno spettacolo frizzante e gustoso, oltremodo ironico e variopinto, basato essenzialmente sull’idea di relazione tra amore e pazzia, tra sentimento e delirio. I personaggi, ben caratterizzati nelle loro psicologie, adottano una gestualità volutamente enfatica e, a seconda delle occasioni, manierata, con movenze che ricordano quelle di un carillon e, nei momenti di inerzia, rimandano alle statuine in porcellana di Meissen.”

    “The British director created a crisp/sparkling and delicious production, extremely ironic/funny and multicoloured, essentially based on the idea of a relationship between love and madness, between sentiment and delirium. The characters/cast, well-characterised by their own states of mind, adopt an intentionally emphatic movement and, as appropriate for the moment, manner, with movements that look like a Carillon and, in the still moments, seem like the porcelain Meissen figurines.”
    Stefano Balbiani, Connessi all’Opera, 9 October 2018

    The director for this production of “La Finta Giardiniera” at Teatro alla Scala, Milan was Frederic Wake-Walker, who with the aid of Anthony McDonald, responsible for scenery and costumes, and Lucy Carter’s lighting created an engaging and imaginative interpretation.

    It was all good fun and produced a lively atmosphere, and perfectly embraced the buffa spirit.

    The choreography was exceptionally well-considered, and the actors’ gestures were magnified in line with the performances practices of the time… By the end of Act one, the performance had clearly established a momentum.

    Moreover, Wake-Walker’s interpretation added further subtleties; while the characters were singing a significant aria, they would cast off their clothes, stripping away their superficial feelings, which like the (psychic) walls that are being pulled down, allow their deeper emotions, born of experience and reason, to connect with their true love.

    Nevertheless, Wake-Walker’s overall conception of the opera worked: the initial superficial power of love is finally dispelled as its madness destroys itself, and allows a more mature love to develop, thanks to the balancing effect of reason.”
    Alan Neilson, Operawire, 15 October 2018

    “Lo spettacolo, già acclamato al festival di Glyndebourne nel 2014, porta la firma di Frederic Wake-Walker, che si focalizza sullo studio dei caratteri e sulla relazione fra “amore” e “follia”. I personaggi sono all’inizio immaturi, ingenui e un po’ farseschi nella gestione dei loro rapporti. Fingono in sostanza, mettendo in scena una propria “maschera” che poi sparisce con la follia.”
    Ugo Malasoma, Operaclick, 9 October 2018

  • More info  
    25 Apr 18 OSBORN The Mother
    POSK London

    “…Frederic Wake-Walker’s stark and astute semi-staging…”
    Yehuda Shapiro, Opera Magazine, July 2018

  • More info  
    09 Nov 14 KRASA Brundibár
    Jubilee Opera, Aldeburgh

    “The production, sympathetically directed by Frederic Wake-Walker, mercifully avoids jackboots and swastikas…”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Sunday Telegraph, 9 November 2014

  • More info  
    30 Jun 14 MOZART La finta giardiniera
    Glyndebourne Festival Opera

    “…director Frederic Wake-Walker has devised a thoughtfully stylish staging… Much is made of the idea of disguise, artifice and illusion being stripped away – of the tension between the formal and the natural – as Wake-Walker labours to present the characters legibly and plausibly, abetted by a talented cast.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 29 June 2014

    “…Wake-Walker pursues his theme of people looking for their real selves with energy…”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 30 June 2014

    “The plot, punctuated by faints and fits of madness, may be impossible to take seriously, but, with director Frederic Wake-Walker at the controls and Robin Ticciati catching the idiom in the pit, it emerges with irresistible charm.

    Wake-Walker’s decision to set it in the crumbling ruin of a Baroque German pleasure-dome (exquisitely lit by Lucy Carter) allows the action to float free of time and place; the semi-deranged characters are all looking for love.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 30 June 2014

    “Wake-Walker had the daring idea of encouraging each character to adopt a gestural ’tic’ (or two)‚ repeated actions that flowed in sympathy with their musical personalities. This worked tremendously well. The faux 18th-century set brought out the symmetries and mechanism of the dramatic exposition: the characters’ stock attitudes then served to differentiate and define them‚ making sense of the chaotic action. What’s more‚ the ease with which the singers adopted their gestural personalities spoke eloquently of the extended rehearsal time that Glyndebourne can allow‚ and led to moments of extraordinary intensity when inward-looking arias allowed the masks to come down…”
    Opera, September 2014

    “Frederic Wake-Walker’s brilliantly inspired production — the first in Glyndebourne’s history — peels away layers of artifice to reveal the human heart beating beneath…Flawed and overlong the work may be but this team make it all seem worthwhile…”
    Barry Millington, London Evening Standard, July 2014

    “As the opera moves towards its literally and metaphorically mad ending‚ however‚ I found Wake-Walker’s vision — almost an emotional apocalypse — gripping and touching…”
    The Times, June 2014

    “…Frederic Wake-Walker’s handsome…production of Mozart’s silly youthful opera La finta giardiniera.”
    Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 9 November 2014

  • More info  
    01 Jan 14 BRITTEN A Time There Was
    Jubilee Opera

    “…the result was remarkably perceptive‚ enough to make the grown-up audience it was aimed at damp-eyed over the resonances of Britten’s uncannily direct line into the now-closed perfection of childhood…astutely directed…it honoured the spirit of the fleeting charm of childhood that Britten realised with such consummate ease…”
    Opera, January 2014

  • More info  
    01 Jun 13 BRITTEN Church Parables
    Mahogany Opera

    “Part Japanese Noh play‚ part Anglican medieval mystery play‚ the Parables are a bizarre hybrid that should not work – but does…Mahogany Opera‚ directed by Frederic Wake-Walker‚ has opened out the terms of reference. All three of the Parables are still dominated by severely stylised movements‚ but Curlew River is Japanese‚ The Burning Fiery Furnace Balinese (Britten was captivated by the music of Bali)‚ and The Prodigal Son combines Middle Eastern dance with the visual imagery of Rembrandt. In one of the imaginative tie-ups of the centenary year‚ this production of The Prodigal Son has come to Aldeburgh direct from St Petersburg‚ where the work was given its first Russian performance in the Hermitage Theatre‚ close to the Rembrandt picture that inspired Britten in the first place…”
    Financial Times, June 2013

    “…Wake-Walker’s delightfully imaginative staging hits the spot here‚ with just the right sprinkling of black humour and witty stylisation…”
    The Telegraph, June 2013

    So as well as making for an entertaining if sometimes unintentionally camp spectacle‚ it also made sense for Frederic Wake-Walker to infuse his Mahogany Opera stagings of all three parables with a flurry of Eastern theatrical gestures: fluttering fingers‚ jerky movements‚ stylised attitudes and villains ducking and weaving like martial arts champs…with such exciting singing in the evocative twilight of Orford Church‚ I found these shows irresistible…
    The Times, June 2013

    We entered the fenland church as the sun was setting and left as a hazy moon was rising over the marshes. The timing was deliberate. Frederic Wake-Walker‚ directing a new trilogy of Britten’s Church Parables for the composer’s centenary‚ was going for authenticity. This performance of Curlew River was in Orford Church‚ where the work was premiered in 1964: it is rooted in an unchanged landscape of river and marshland‚ and its framing compline plainchant follows the sun. This was an all but perfect performance. Wake-Walker’s staging‚ on a tiny platform arched by the 12h-century church’s west door‚ brilliantly fused medieval iconography with the Japanese Noh tradition that inspired Britten. The monks in their wooden boat‚ with outstretched palms as oars‚ recalled medieval stained-glass vignettes. All movement was stylised‚ hand-focused…
    The Times, June 2013

  • More info  
    01 Jan 13 HURD Hip-Hip! Horatio
    Jubilee Opera

    “…there was a great deal of dramatic worth evident in Frederic Wake-Walker’s staging…a subtle‚ witty‚ deft and beautifully performed stage version…”
    Opera, January 2013

  • More info  
    19 Oct 12 PHILIPS The Yellow Sofa
    Glyndebourne Festival Opera

    “Frederic Wake-Walker directs a lively production with minimal scenery and handsome costumes.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 18 October 2012

    “The director Frederic Wake-Walker made the ten-strong cast work hard‚ with a lot of very detailed business sparking up the nudge-nudge humour and matching the music’s talent for parody with easy precision. He didn’t let the Sofa overplay its fantastic hand‚ and he used the awkward‚ shallow stage shrewdly so that the drama never slowed down…”
    Opera, December 2012

    “The Yellow Sofa was first seen in 2009 and‚ slick and exquisitely detailed‚ is now revived by its original director‚ Frederic Wake-Walker…Not to be missed…”

    The Times, October 2012

  • More info  
    01 Jul 12 HANDEL Jephtha
    Buxton Festival

    “Of the four productions I saw‚ top honors go to Handel’s oratorio “Jephtha” as staged by Frederic Wake-Walker and performed by excellent soloists… he vividly underscores important dramatic moments‚ especially when we get to the heart of the work and Jephtha’s daughter Iphis greets her returning father while he stands frozen‚ dumbstruck…All these moments take part in an emotionally overwhelming sequence…”
    New York Times, June 2012

    “In his cunning production of Handel’s Jephtha‚ Frederic Wake- Walker has clearly thought long and hard about the dilemmas of staging oratorio…”
    The Times, July 2012

  • More info  
    01 May 12 BIRTWISTLE Bow Down
    The Opera Group

    “Frederic Wake-Walker’s first production as Artistic Director of The Opera Group is imaginatively staged and expertly performed by a committed cast of six actor-musicians-dancers…This is Frederic Wake-Walker’s first production as Artistic Director of The Opera Group. Imaginatively staged with only minimal, mundane props and crude lighting and expertly performed by a committed cast of six actor-musicians-dancers, the show incontrovertibly radiates raw authenticity and power…”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 18 May 2012

    “…Wake-Walker’s accomplished production…”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 20 May 2012

    “Frederic Wake-Walker’s production (his first since becoming artistic director of the Opera Group in 2011‚ and here presented as part of the Spitalfields Festival) showed that Bow Down still punches above its weight…”
    Opera, August 2012

  • More info  
    01 Mar 11 BRITTEN Albert Herring
    Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama

    “On several occasions at the weekend I heard Benjamin Britten’s opera “Albert Herring” described as old-fashioned or out of date. Well it needn’t be if it’s in the right hands and wholly in the appropriate spirit…Frederic Wake-Walker’s brilliant production works a dazzling trompe-l’oeil with a large cast in a tight space: it’s a lively ensemble staging with a big feel yet very intimate…a completely entertaining opera emerges…”
    The Herald, March 2011

  • More info  
    01 Nov 08 BRITTEN Noye's Fludde
    Aldeburgh Music

    “Director Frederic Wake-Walker’s production bristles with ideas…Wake-Walker achieves superbly disciplined movement from the vast cast of children…”
    East Anglian Daily Times, November 2008

    …an elaborate‚ memorable and remarkable production directed with ingenuity and flair by young Suffolk based director Frederic Wake-Walker…the whole production was intensely moving right up to the last note…a triumph…
    Eastern Daily Press, November 2008

  • More info  
    01 Nov 08 MOZART Die Zauberflöte
    Glyndebourne on Tour

    “Wake-Walker manages to blend the disparate elements into something very fine indeed….He has a deft touch with comedy; the despatch of the serpent by the three ladies‚ the animals’ appearance to the sound of Tamino’s flute‚ Papageno’s despatch of Monastatos and company with the magic bells were expertly done. Above all Wake-Walker moves his cast beautifully…”
    Eastern Daily Press, November 2008

  • More info  
    01 Apr 08 WALTON; STRAVINSKY The Bear; The Fox
    Aldeburgh Music

    “Frederic Wake-Walker‚ who cut his teeth on Opera North’s recent “Hansel and Gretel” and staged a razor sharp production of Hans Krasa’s “Brundibar” at Aldeburgh last autumn‚ is the brains behind Mahogany Opera‚ an electrifying young company whose future plans include all Britten’s Church Parables‚ plus a bauhaus and Dadaist-inspired ’deconstructionist’ double bill of Blacher and Ligeti‚ and an opera by Shostakovich’s friend Moshe Weinberg…This benevolent venue combined with a provocative and arresting staging to make Mahagony’s double bill one of the most exciting and electrifying evenings I’ve spent at the opera in recent seasons. Wake-Walker took Stravinsky’s “Renard” and Walton’s “The Bear” and presented them in tandem without a break‚ so that the first melted effortlessly into the second…it was “Renard” presented in an extraordinary non-naturalistic staging inspired by the stage directions of the great Soviet-era director Vsevolod Meyerhold that lifted the evening and made it something truly special.”
    Opera, July 2008

    “…Freddie Wake-Walker is the enterprising young director and founder of Mahagony Opera‚ which for the last few years has been playing with various different theatrical traditions…Wake-Walker and desinger Anna Jones brought this folktale to life…through deft re-translation and characterisation…
    The Tablet, May 2008

    Freddie Wake-Walker’s Mahogany Opera Company followed last year’s successful staging of Britten’s Curlew River with Russian Tales‚ a piece cleverly weaving together Walton’s The Bear and Stravinsky’s The Fox…Props as spartan as one could get gave the director more or less a bare stage‚ which he used effectively‚ creating an exciting production showing an industrial cartoon-like picture of a world consistently on the move. Wake-Walker seems a young director on the move. His work is imaginative and well-planned and local audiences can have a taste of it at Glyndebourne on Tour this year. He’s directing The Magic Flute…”
    Eastern Daily Post, April 2008

Interviews & Articles

Frederic Wake-Walker speaks to Volker Blech about his production of The Messiah in Berlin. (December 2018)

Frederic Wake-Walker speaks to Markus Schwering about his production of Peter Grimes at Oper Köln. (November 2018)

The school children writing an opera‘: Children at a school in the London borough of Tower Hamlets are taking part in a nationwide project aiming to broaden opera’s appeal, led by Mahogany Opera Group.

Frederic Wake-Walker talks to Opera Now about the national tour of a new children’s opera The Rattler, commissioned by Mahogany Opera Group. (March 2016)

Click here to read an article by Frederic Wake-Walker about the future of Opera, in The Spectator. (April 2013)

Frederic Wake-Waler talks to Mark Valencia from The Stage about his life as a director. (May 2014)