Known both for his bold and inventive productions and for his acute musical instincts, Chas Rader-Shieber has established himself as one of the most innovative opera directors of his generation. Reviewing his staging of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen Toronto’s Classical 96.3 FM praised Mr. Rader-Shieber’s “daring and visionary approach to staging” and declared him “a force to be reckoned with in the opera world.” Mr. Rader-Shieber’s repertoire encompasses a broad range of works from Monteverdi to Benjamin Britten, but he has made a particular specialty of Baroque opera.
In the 2021-2022 season, Mr. Rader-Shieber continues his close collaboration as Resident Stage Director with the Curtis Institute of Music, workshopping a new piece, 24, and directing a new production of Dangerous Liasons. He also returns to Des Moines Metro Opera for a new production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and directs Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo for the newly-formed OrpheusPDX in Portland. During the 2022-2023 season, he directs a new production of Die Tote Stadt for Opera Colorado.
Chas Rader-Shieber’s engagements during the COVID-19 impacted 2020-2021 season included co-directing a film, Mercy, with Alek Shrader, based on Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito and created for Curtis Institute of Music. He also directed a new production of Rameau’s Platée at Des Moines Metro Opera, and a reprisal of his acclaimed production of Orfeo ed Euridice at The Dallas Opera was unfortunately cancelled.
Mr. Rader-Shieber’s original engagements during the COVID-19 shortened 2019-2020 season included directing a production of Shining Brow at Arizona Opera (completed), Vivaldi’s Bajazet at Portland Opera (cancelled) and a return to Curtis Institute of Music to direct their productions of Il Barbiere di Siviglia (completed) and La clemenza di Tito (postponed). During the summer of 2020, he planned a return to Des Moines Metro Opera for their production of Platée by Rameau (postponed).
Mr. Rader-Shieber’s 2016-2017 season included a debut with Pittsburgh Opera for La traviata and a return to Des Moines Metro Opera for Gluck’s Orfeo. Previously, he continued his association with the Curtis Insitute of Music, directing Capriccio. On the international stage, Mr. Rader-Shieber directed Faust with the Macau Festival, and made a return to Pinchgut Opera in Australia for their production of L’amant jaloux.
During the 2014-2015 season, Mr. Rader-Shieber debuted with Boston Lyric Opera for a new production of La traviata, Des Moines Metro Opera for Die Entführung as dem Serail, and Indiana University directing Alcina. He also returned to Portland Opera for Die Fledermaus, and also Curtis Institute of Music for Ariadne auf Naxos.
During the 2013-2014 season, he returned to Sydney, Australia with Pinchgut Opera for Giasone (Cavalli), and revived his acclaimed production of Orlando for Hobart Baroque, which was nominated for a Helpmann Award for Direction of an Opera in Australia. He also debuted with Utah Opera for Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and joined Wolf Trap Opera for Giulio Cesare.
Mr. Rader-Shieber began the 2012-2013 season with Die Zauberflöte at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he has directed over 26 operas. Other notable recent productions with Curtis include: Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers; Idomeneo and Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims. The 2012-2013 season also found Mr. Rader-Shieber debuting with Portland Opera directing Handel’s Rinaldo.
Of his production of Handel’s Orlando at the New York City Opera in 2004, The New York Times stated that Rader-Shieber had given audiences a production “at once contemporary, fanciful and true to the original.” In addition to Orlando, Mr. Rader-Shieber’s work at the New York City Operahas included a critically acclaimed production of Handel’s Flavio in 2003. The 2011-12 season included a debut with the Staatstheater Darmstadt for Léhar’s Die lustige Witwe. In the 2010-2011 season, Mr. Rader-Shieber’s engagements included La clemenza di Tito for Vancouver Opera, as well as Don Giovanni with Music Academy of the West.
Mr. Rader-Shieber opened the 2009–2010 season directing his production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail with San Francsico Opera and followed by a revival of his Tamerlano for Los Angeles Opera. He concluded the season directing Antony and Cleopatra for the Curtis Institute of Music and Handel’s Tolomeo for Glimmerglass Opera.
In the 2008–2009 season, Mr. Rader-Shieber made his debut in Australia presenting Charpentier’s David et Jonathas for Pinchgut Opera. He presented a new production Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Lyric Opera of Chicago and directed Il Viaggio a Reims at Curtis. He finished the season with a new production of Il re pastore for Opera Theatre of St. Louis and directed his production of Don Giovanni for Santa Fe Opera. During the 2007 –2008 season Mr. Rader-Shieber directed Una Cosa Rara for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Handel’s Tamerlano at Washington National Opera, Bolcom’s A Wedding for Music Academy of the West, as well as direction and production of Aindamar by Osvaldo Golijov with Curtis Opera Theater.
In 2006-2007, Mr. Rader-Shieber brought his Don Giovanni to Opera Pacific and also made his return to New York City Opera directing Rossini’s La Donna del Lago, which he also directed at Minnesota Opera. Rounding out his season were engagements to direct L’Ormindo at Pittsburgh Opera, The Cunning Little Vixen at Houston Grand Opera and Bellini’s I Puritani at Opera Theater of St. Louis.
Among his many other Handel credits, he directed lavish and modern stagings of Semele for the Arizona Opera and the Skylight Opera Theatre, Alcina at the Curtis Institute of Music, Giulio Cesare at the Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Edmonton Operas, and Tamerlano at the Spoleto Festival USA. He has also directed other Baroque operas, including Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea for Pittsburgh Opera Center and the Curtis Institute, and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Curtis Institute.
Mr. Rader-Shieber has also become well known for his interpretations of Mozart operas. Among others, he has directed Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte at companies including Opera Pacific, Opera de Montreal, Santa Fe Opera and the Juilliard Opera Center. The Toronto Globe and Mail said of his La clemenza di Tito: “Rader-Shieber is a talent to watch, given his brilliant, economical illumination of Metastasio’s text, which focused on character revelation like a psychological thriller.”
Mr. Rader-Shieber’s work also includes repertoire ranging from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Skylight Opera Theatre, to Donizetti’s Don Pasquale at Music Academy of the West, and the operas of Britten, Giancarlo Menotti and Ned Rorem at the Curtis Institute of Music. Mr. Rader-Shieber has served as Artistic Director of the Skylight Opera Theatre, and on the faculty of The Juilliard School and the Music Academy of the West.
Des Moines Metro Opera – Rusalka
Chas Rader-Shieber has added another jewel to his directing crown. There was no moment of this remarkable, coherent staging that did not seem infused with his creative spirit. Overall, he succeeded in realizing the disturbing unease of the piece and its shifting fortunes. His blocking conveys a restlessness that often has the actors prowling the playing area in search of a place, and a reason, to light. When stillness is called for, Mr. R-S unselfconsciously draws a meaningful picture with telling groupings and positioning. His imagination informed the entire, unnerving, relentless arc of the storytelling.”
James Sohre, Opera Today
Des Moines Metro Opera – Orphée et Eurydice
Mr. Rader-Schieber has endowed the staging approach with a striking, yet delicate balance of sobering introspection and mythical whimsy. … In an awesome display of subtlety and nuance, he managed to create well-motivated movement that kept the pictures in flux so that all three side of the horseshoe seating were engaged and visually satisfied.
James Sohre, Opera Today
Wolf Trap Opera – Giulio Cesare
In director Chas Rader-Shieber, the company engaged a prolific veteran with a certain kind of tongue-in-cheek slickness that he’s applied to many operas, and Handel operas in particular. Here, as before, he offered a funny, sugary, aggressively clever take on an old story. He gave a 1950s cast to ancient Egypt with a postcard-like backdrop of pyramids (sets: Judy Gailen), a trio of French maids in short shirts puffed out with crinoline and Egyptian-style bob cuts with beads flanking their faces (costumes: Paul Carey, with Anne Nesmith designing hair and makeup), and the leader of the Romans in a blinding white military uniform — all given extra immediacy in the intimate setting of the Wolf Trap Barns.
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post
Utah Opera – Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Director Chas Rader-Shieber demonstrates a deft hand for physical comedy while bringing plenty of heart to the production. Under his direction, the cast delivers a laugh (or at least a mild chuckle) a minute, but the characters all feel so likable and relatable that the show’s closing moral rings true.”
Catherine Reese-Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune
Curtis Institute of Music – Le nozze di Figaro
The work is full of laughs, yet can be interpreted as much for its darkness, as it is an operatic farce. That is exactly what director Chas Rader-Shieber does in Curtis Opera Theatre’s recent production.”
Les Whittington, The Evening Bulletin
Over the years, veteran Curtis director Chas Rader-Shieber has given us many smart productions where, on occasion, a sort of smirking cleverness peeks through, but here, he demonstrates an encompassing understanding of one of opera’s greatest masterpieces, with the myriad characters brought vividly to life.”
Peter Burwasser, Philadelphia City Paper
Arizona Opera – Semele
Baroque opera is a hard sell to those expecting more Bohemes and Aidas, but the public would be nuts to miss this screamingly funny and beautifully sung production of Handel’s orphan opera.”
Richard Nilsen, The Arizona Republic
…The look is new, and it works beautifully, thanks to the team of director Chas Rader-Shieber, set and costume designer David Zinn and lighting designer Lenore Doxsee.”
James Reel, East Valley Tribune
New York City Opera – Orlando
…One wonders if Handel himself had ever seen his opera in a more compelling production.”
Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine
…A production must help the singers penetrate the beguiling musical surface to tap the dramatic subtext. The director Chas Rader-Shieber’s enchanting production, introduced two years ago at the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, N.Y., does this and more.”
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
Lyric Opera of Chicago – The Cunning Little Vixen
The Cunning Little Vixen … entered Lyric Opera of Chicago’s repertory on November 17, in a stunning production, sung in the original Czech, directed by Chas Rader-Shieber with sets and costumes by David Zinn, all lit with a gentle grace by Lenore Doxsee. Lyric’s creative team skillfully captured Vixen’s profound melding of human and animal worlds by illuminating the piece with all the affection it deserves, while pushing the conceptual envelope just enough to keep us on our toes.”
Mark Thomas Ketterson, Opera News
Director Chas Rader-Shieber’s witty vision of the natural world magically springs to life. Children will adore the singing-and-dancing fauna for their own sake, but adults will come out of “The Cunning Little Vixen” deeply moved and refreshed of spirit. The show is not to be missed.”
John von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune
Love him or hate him, young American director Chas Rader-Shieber is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the opera world.”
Paula Citron, Toronto’s Classical 96.3 FM
Also new to the Lyric, if not to the world, is Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen,” in an appealing production by Chas Rader-Shieber. The beautifully textured reading by Andrew Davis and the Lyric’s orchestra rightly made them the stars of the evening, but Dina Kuznetsova piped engagingly as the Vixen and Jean Philippe Lafont’s seasoned singing as the Forester added to the emotional warmth.”
George Loomis, The Financial Times
Chas Rader-Shieber, former Skylight Opera Theatre artistic director, had a big success with Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen” in his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut on Nov. 17. This distilled, 90-minute opera only looks like a children’s show. It is about living with mortality and the music runs very deep. Rader-Shieber, the stage director, got both the fantastical whimsy and the profundity.”
Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Santa Fe Opera – Don Giovanni
Most worthwhile, most thoughtful, most impressive all around was Don Giovanni.”
David Patrick Stearns, Andante.com
Provocatively designed, aggressively directed by Chas Rader-Shieber but with every movement musically inspired, this was a Giovanni in excelsis.”
Craig Smith, The Santa Fe New Mexican
Pittsburgh Opera – Giulio Cesare
…This Caesar was a clever rethinking of an antique masterpiece that made it accessible for contemporary audiences without desecrating the original. It worked, because Rader-Shieber and music director John Mauceri showed the highest respect for musical values.”
Robert Croan, Opera News
Glimmerglass Opera – Orlando
Chas Rader-Shieber’s production of Handel’s Orlando was the star event of the festival.”
Michael Kennedy, Opera
Mr. Rader-Shieber, the American director (whose imaginative production of Handel’s “Flavio” was presented at the New York City Opera last season), has given audiences here an “Orlando” at once contemporary, fanciful and true to the spirit of the work.”
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
At Glimmerglass, director Chas Rader-Shieber and designer David Zinn took a … surreal approach…. The sheer poetry of the visual detail and the characters’ expressive movements help make this journey of self-discovery so mesmerizing, not to mention the refined, technically polished Handel singing that one takes for granted these days.”
Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine
To baroque opera lovers, Chas Rader-Shieber is a hero. The young American stage director seems to have an uncanny ability to render static, overlong Handel operas palatable for modern consumption. His debut at Glimmerglass Opera has produced an utterly charming production of the composer’s 1733 classic, Orlando.”
Paula Citron, The Toronto Globe and Mail
Director Chas Rader-Shieber, designer David Zinn and lighting artist Lenore Doxsee have created a spectacle that greatly enhances the work of a superb group of vocal artists.”
Olin Chism, The Dallas Morning News
Spoleto Festival, USA – Tamerlano
Tamerlano,” presented in an updated staging by Chas Rader-Shieber, was a struggle, ultimately successful, to create sympathy for unlikable people expressing themselves in a musical language of formal but rarefied splendor.”
Phillip Kennicott, The Washington Post
New York City Opera – Flavio
Mr. Rader-Shieber’s deft dollops of visual slapstick — a renegade daisy in a tulip bed fleeing offstage when the king tries to pick it — were backed up by David Zinn’s simple sets, creating a varying range of spaces with walls of box hedge or a pentagonal house that opens like a jewel box to reveal a patterned interior where lovers bill and coo amid stacks of wedding gifts.”
Anne Midgette, The New York Times
New York City Opera has built a reputation as something of a Handel company, with a series of productions that explore the master’s works from a variety of modern angles. The most recent addition to the list, and one of the finest, is Flavio (from 1723), which bowed at the New York State Theater on March 6, in a fresh new production created by three youthful company debutants: director Chas Rader-Shieber, set/costume designer David Zinn and lighting designer Lenore Doxsee.”
John W. Freeman, Opera News
Santa Fe Opera – La clemenza di Tito
Rader-Shieber is a talent to watch, given his brilliant, economical illumination of Metastasio’s text, which focused on character revelation like a psychological thriller. In fact, the opera flowed like the dialogue of a play.”
Paula Citron, The Toronto Globe and Mail
Pittsburgh Opera – L’incoronazione di Poppea
Director Chas Rader-Shieber and set designer David Zinn combined to create a brilliant retelling of the baroque opera from 1643. In their hands, the drama was not only relevant, but fresh and entertaining — simply amazing considering the cultural hurdles.”
Andrew Drukenbrod, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette