Artistic Advisor, Opera San Antonio

https://www.elorenmeeker.com/

Praised by the Chicago Sun-Times for her “inspired innovation,” stage director E. Loren Meeker has garnered worldwide acclaim for her keen artistic vision and rich, measured storytelling. With an international career spanning engagements across the United States, Argentina, Singapore, and France, Ms. Meeker’s work has been seen at notable houses including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Teatro Colón, and more. A diverse artist with a background in dance and theatre, Ms. Meeker is especially regarded for her unique, cross-genre perspective which she regularly brings to her work on the operatic stage.

Ms. Meeker’s upcoming season encompasses a number of directorial debuts and new artistic collaborations. This fall, she joins Opera San Antonio as the company’s artistic advisor and opens their season with Puccini’s Tosca. To finish the year, Ms. Meeker makes two major directorial debuts with Portland Opera and Florida Grand Opera with two productions of Madama Butterfly. The new year sees her return to Washington National Opera to direct a new production of Don Giovanni as well as continued directorial collaborations with Opera San Antonio in Rigoletto.

Met with critical claim in her most recent productions, Ms. Meeker is regularly praised for her distinctive and illuminating takes on standard repertoire. Of her 2019 production of La bohème with Opera San Antonio, Mike Greenberg of Music Incident Light reported, “It’s an uncommonly lithe staging. This is that rare opera production in which every action of every character is purposeful and natural – not a false note the entire evening.  As much as the words and the music, Ms. Meeker’s abundant, intelligently placed details show us who the characters are.”

Recent highlights of her directing engagements include regular collaborations with Lyric Opera of Chicago (Rigoletto, Die Fledermaus), The Glimmerglass Festival (Show Boat, The Cunning Little Vixen, La bohème), and The Dallas Opera (Show Boat, Manon). Other notable credits include engagements at Houston Grand Opera (Les pêcheurs de perles), Atlanta Opera (Daughter of the Regiment), Wolf Trap Opera (La pietra del paragone), San Francisco Opera (Die Fledermaus), Teatro Colón (Manon) and Singapore Lyric Opera (Manon Lescaut). Equally at home in contemporary repertoire, Ms. Meeker has directed five world premieres for Houston Grand Opera (HGOco) as well as the world premiere of Jason and the Argonauts for Lyric Opera of Chicago (Lyric Unlimited). 

Ms. Meeker’s vision and skill as a director has been recognized through a number of recent honors and awards, including two “Best of Opera” awards through the New Orleans Opera Association for her productions of Faust (2017) and Die Fledermaus (2015). Her production of Carmen with Washington National Opera was included in DC Metro Theater Arts’ 2015 “Best of Opera” list. Other notable awards include First Prize (Division IV) of the National Opera Association Opera Production Competition for her production of Lakmè at Rutgers University as well as six “Best Of” ArtsImpluse Theatre Awards nominations for her production of Cendrillon at Boston University Opera Institute.

Ms. Meeker has served on the directing staff for a number of major opera companies across the United States, counting Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Florida Opera, and more among her early influences. While on staff with Central City Opera, she received the John Moriarty Award for her contributions to the company’s 2006 season. Such opportunities have yielded artistic and collegial ties with many distinguished directors including Sir David McVicar and Francesca Zambello.

As a choreographer, her work has been showcased at Glimmerglass Opera (Orpheus in the Underworld), Houston Grand Opera (Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni), and Opera Boston (La Vie Parisienne). While in residence with Central City Opera, Ms. Meeker contributed her talents to the Bonfils-Stanton Young Artist Program as the company’s movement teacher and choreographer.

Ms. Meeker’s unique path to directing began with a background in dance and gymnastics, later combining her talents in these disciplines with a love for acting and singing. She received her BFA in Theatre Studies at Boston University and immediately applied her diverse theatrical background to the world of opera. Ms. Meeker is currently based in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

 

Opera San Antonio – La bohème

It’s an uncommonly lithe staging. This is that rare opera production in which every action of every character is purposeful and natural – not a false note the entire evening.  As much as the words and the music, Ms. Meeker’s abundant, intelligently placed details show us who the characters are.”

Mike Greenberg,  Music Incident Light

“Soprano Jessica Jones stormed into the cafe scene in Act Two as the vivacious Musetta, delivering the act’s knockout “Waltz” song, hitting all the high notes with supreme confidence before ending the act with a can-can dance. The dance was one of the many nice touches added by stage director E. Loren Meeker and [choreographer Eric Sean Fogel].”

David Hendricks, Houston Chronicle

Atlanta Opera – The Daughter of the Regiment

Stage director E. Loren Meeker delivered a vibrant show with an endearing Gilbert and Sullivan feel…”

Stephanie Adrian, Opera News

“E. Loren Meeker’s production of Gaetano Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment (or La fille du régiment) was like a finely tuned cuckoo clock, the well-oiled moving gears seamlessly presenting Atlanta Opera’s setting at the Cobb Energy and Performing Arts Center with minimal distractions.”

Daniel Weisman, Schmopera

“Stage director E. Loren Meeker and choreographer Meg Gillentine have created an opera with little extraneous movement, where everything has its purpose and the purpose is usually comedic. The group numbers are special highlight, and the Act II trio “Tous les trois reunis” (“All three of us reunited”) is a number to remember just as much for Donizetti’s brilliant music as the popping physical comedy that accompanies it.”

Basil Considine, The Chatanoogan

Madison Opera – Carmen

“It is a rousing production, brought off with great spirit. Particular praise is due to stage director E. Loren Meeker, who produces activity as needed, sometimes lively, other times subtle.”

John W. Barker, Isthmus

” It’s the nuance in individual expression that makes it memorable and, astonishingly, new… It would be easy to make Carmen harder opposite softer, sweeter Micaela, José’s erstwhile country mouse girlfriend. Director E. Loren Meeker resists the trope.”

Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times

Lyric Opera of Chicago – Rigoletto

“In addition, the excellent director, E. Loren Meeker, has devised an inspired innovation, so that as the overture is still being played we see a bereft Rigoletto (Quinn Kelsey), court jester to the Duke of Mantua (Matthew Polenzani), peering up at the small window where he once believed he could keep his beloved daughter, Gilda (Rosa Feola), safely hidden away. That, of course, was not to be. And the rest is a flashback of the catastrophic events…

Driven by a perfect storm of glorious singing, superb acting and stunning design, the performance was met by the sort of extended ovation not often heard these days. And it deserved every bravo that echoed through the audience.”

Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

“The last couple of Lyric “Rigoletto” productions have ranged from muddled to disastrous, but this one, using handsome sets that originated at the San Francisco Opera in 1997, and deftly staged by revival director E. Loren Meeker, works to tell the story directly, without fuss or fustian.”

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

“Director E. Loren Meeker brings these interesting characters vividly to life by artfully arranging their movements, such as in the opening tableau and in the way certain individuals are tossed about by the crowds.”

Barnaby Hughes, Stage and Cinema

Wolf Trap Opera – La pietra del paragone

The animated Wolf Trap cast, imaginatively directed by E. Loren Meeker, sporting whimsical costumes by Erik Teague [in] a performance that merrily romped all over an Erhard Rom-designed stage got its visual energy from rotating rectangular panels and projections. (Additional energy was amusingly generated by cardboard cutouts of animals that were trotted out for the hunt scene.)”

Tim Smith, Opera News

“To the credit of the Wolf Trap Opera and E. Loren Meeker, the stage director, the company’s new production, concealed the flimsiness of the plot through a combination of humor and strong performances… Meeker’s madcap production helped make this scenario antic rather than merely tiresome… There is also an obligatory hunt/storm scene with music that foreshadows Rossini’s subsequent effort in “The Barber of Seville,” which in Meeker’s staging got belly laughs from the audience as animals and people crossed the stage in exaggerated slapstick poses.”

Anne Midgette, The Washington Post

“Rossini’s The Touchstone triumphs at Wolf Trap… E. Loren Meeker’s fast-paced production of The Touchstone (La Pietra del paragone) at Wolf Trap was a delightful romp and a vehicle for showcasing some excellent emerging coloratura talent… a good performance of Touchstone shows you how refreshingly un-Romantic it can be if everything, every single thing, is performed with a knowing sense of irony. Meeker knows all this and allows it free rein: she luxuriates in stylization, and then some. Case in point: Candice, when dressed up as her pretend “long lost” twin brother (we, of course, welcome every hoary old cliché in the high-camp aesthetic) was holding up a moustache before her face, and so were all her military subalterns (for all the world as if they were selfie-sticks). One doesn’t need to suspend disbelief in Rossini’s world. One can go on blithely disbelieving, and in a clever production, one is actually encouraged to do so: just sit back and enjoy the fantasy.”

Hilary Stroh, Bachtrack

Opera San Antonio – Il barbiere di Siviglia

E. Loren Meeker’s stage direction was a veritable gusher of imaginative, comedically astute details, without resort to burlesque clichés. As in Jacques Tati’s wonderful film Playtime, there was too much to absorb in one viewing, but it would be beastly to complain about that… Opera is sorta like baseball. A home-run slugger or two can give the fans some transitory thrills, but the team needs strength in every other position, all the way down to the short-relief pitchers and the batboys, to make it to the World Series. Opera San Antonio’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville… was the work of a World Series contender.  The special satisfaction in this production was the consistently high level of craft and teamwork in every aspect of the show… this was the most fully realized and most thoroughly delightful Barber in my experience – which, by the way, goes back to a legendary 1971 Lyric Opera of Chicago production whose cast was led by Marilyn Horne, Hermann Prey and Spiro Malas.”

Mike Greenburg, Incident Light

“The opera company staged a union of virtuosic singing with physical comedy for the ever-popular masterpiece by Gioachino Rossini… Stage director E. Loren Meeker prepared a highly entertaining interpretation of “Barber” with a cast that left nothing more to be desired… Every scene was delivered with conviction, but nothing beat the prolonged music-lesson segment that opened Act Two. The witty acting and the ensemble singing soared with drama and delight.”

David Hendricks, My San Antonio

New Orleans Opera – Faust

Friday night’s season-ending staging of Charles Gounod’s “Faust” by the New Orleans Opera Association was a triumph. The singing, acting, conducting, orchestral playing and… the staging were first-rate and riveting”

Dean M. Shapiro, The New Orleans Advocate

The Glimmerglass Festival – La bohème

The festival rounded out its mainstage offerings with a solid “La bohème”… it was directed with youthful élan by E. Loren Meeker.”

Heidi Waleston, The Wall Street Journal

“In her debut with the company, director E. Loren Meeker makes the familiar story fresh again and touches our deepest intellect and emotion.  It’s everything opera should be… In the Glimmerglass Opera Festival’s all-new production, every element works in harmony to give the audience a vibrant, heartrending, and emotion-filled experience.”

Linda Loomis, Syracuse.com

“E. Loren Meeker… directs this production splendidly, mining the intimate moments, sweetness, and the humor found in youthful high jinx and courtship rituals of the story.”

Susan Galbraith, DC Theatre Scene

Opera Delaware – Amletto

Opera Delaware mounted a solid production of “Amleto” (by E. Loren Meeker)… an outstanding cast far better than many I’ve heard from companies with 20 times the funds. Throw in Barrese’s terrific conducting, and “Amleto” is not only a success story but an inspiration to anyone who equates “regional opera” with “yet another mediocre ‘La Bohème.’ ”

Anne Midgette, The Washington Post

“One almost doesn’t know what to report first–the beautiful production, the extremely fine performances, the opera itself, or Opera Delaware’s tremendous achievement… The production was spare but beautiful. Although costumed as a traditional production of Hamlet, the set was constructed of various platforms on scaffolding, and made skillful use of projections. (Sets by Peter Tupitza, costumes by Howard Tsui Kaplan for Malabar Ltd.) It worked well for this production”

Taminophile.com

“Opera Delaware’s ‘Amleto’ riveting, unforgettable… Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, has stormed gloriously into downtown Wilmington… The [mad] scene was a highlight of both performance and stagecraft: No fake river or slide into a stage trap here – death was portrayed by a combination of shifting illumination and [Sarah] Asmar’s haunting physical change, leaving the audience hushed as Ofelia lay drowned in a pool of light… Rarely does an audience have the chance to experience a work that is old and yet totally new. For that reason, this Opera Delaware production is an important one, and it drew a worldwide audience to its near-sold-out opening night… The majestic-yet-intimate Grand Opera House fits “Amleto” like a glove. E. Loren Meeker’s sumptuous production is set on steel scaffolds surrounding a central projection screen. The multiple levels designed by Peter Tupitza provide ample playing space for the opera’s 12 principal singers, 32 chorus members and 4 dancers, classically clad and arrayed in tableaux throughout the opera’s four acts… Meeker skillfully handles this very large company, moving them in and out of Driscoll Otto’s moody lighting. Otto also designed the evening’s evocative shape-shifting projections, the first of which is the image of a Danish flag mottled with blood.”

Gail Obenreder, Delaware Online

The Dallas Opera – Showboat

Dallas Opera takes gamble and scores with ‘Show Boat,’ the 1st musical in its history… E. Loren Meeker’s stage direction of this production originally designed by Francesca Zambello for Chicago’s Lyric Opera, deftly weaves the strands together, illuminating contrasts among the journeys… You can go for the exquisite voices, the sumptuous staging or the enveloping warmth of a rich musical tapestry woven by a masterful 51-piece orchestra conducted by Emmanuel Villaume, but the big reason to see Show Boat is the compassion that suffuses The Dallas Opera production at Winspear Opera House.”

Nancy Churnin, The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Opera – Manon

Massenet’s Manon received a near perfect realization from Dallas Opera, in David McVicar’s inventive hothouse of a production, staged here by E. Loren Meeker. ”

Willard Spiegelman, Opera News

“The always-fascinating staging, with a whiff of danger throughout, borders on choreographed movement. The stage is often crowded and busy, sometimes to distraction, with lots of things going on at once. There are even some eye-popping sexual shenanigans, especially in act four’s gambling den of iniquity.”

Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Theater Jones

“Sir David McVicar’s stylized, bawdy production (re-staged here by E. Loren Meeker) maintains the original time setting (early in the court of Louis XV, just before the French aristocracy went to hell), but he gives it an exaggerated, carnival-like tone that seems very modern. He’s presenting the tale not as the corrupting of one girl, but of the inevitable corrupting influence of the whole society. It’s staged like a Restoration sex farce, with half-clothed bodies writhing in a public house, lascivious dandies lusting visibly for buxom lasses (there’s more groping than at a circuit party), exaggerated fops preening around like tweakers on a street corner. The deluge is coming, and they don’t even know it.”

Arnold Wayne Jones, dallasvoice.com

New Orleans Opera – Die Fledermaus

Its bouncy score, traditionally tied to New Year’s Eve celebrations, ensures that audience members will be tapping their feet throughout. This “Fledermaus,” however, also enchants as a piece of pure theater. Director E. Loren Meeker has a fine cast of singing actors, each of whom shows a fine hand for comedy, as well. Meeker brings out all the flair of French farce, eliciting from her performers exquisite timing as she keeps the action flowing as freely as the splendid melodies… For the celebration is irresistible as the company wraps up its fall season with a Champagne-soaked rendition of “Die Fledermaus.”

Theodore P. Mahne, The Times-Picayune

“New Orleans Opera’s ‘Fledermaus’ offers beautiful music and lots of laughs… Director E. Loren Meeker kept the action moving smoothly and rhythmically, which could not have been easy, given the size of the cast plus chorus members, supernumeraries and dancers.”

Dean M. Shapiro, The New Orleans Advocate

North Carolina Opera – Madama Butterfly

Giacomo Puccini’s ever-popular “Madama Butterfly” drew a near-capacity crowd to Memorial Auditorium on Friday for the N.C. Opera’s production. The audience was rewarded with the company’s finest large-scale staging in its six seasons – powerfully sung, beautifully played, confidently directed… Director E. Loren Meeker moved the characters naturally, the whole production extremely polished.”

Roy C. Dicks, The News & Observer

“Treating the score not as a nostalgic postcard from Nagasaki but as a blueprint for crafting upon the stage a cyclorama of humanity, North Carolina Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly sharpened that blade to an acute level of dramatic musicality.. E. Loren Meeker’s direction of North Carolina Opera’s Madama Butterfly focused attention precisely where it must be centered if the opera’s drama is to realize its full potential to enthrall the senses, on the relationships among the principal characters. There are in a tale of collisions between Eastern and Western cultures so many possibilities for insensitivity, but Alice Bristow’s costumes and Sondra Nottingham’s wigs and make-up gave every individual upon the stage a clearly-defined role in a thoughtful manner that avoided sensationalized exaggeration of the societal chasm between Cio-Cio San and her relations and Pinkerton’s Americanism. Too many productions of Madama Butterfly are an act of jigai away from being The Mikado, but North Carolina Opera’s detailed, discerning production was traditional in the best sense: the audience was privy to a performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, not someone else’s… In truth, though, one might see Madama Butterfly a thousand times without ever seeing another performance as satisfying as this one.”

Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts

“Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio-San is roughly the Italian transliteration of the Japanese expression for Butterfly) came to life on the stage of Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium in a beautiful production by North Carolina Opera… Stage director E. Loren Meeker kept everything in its place and moving along smoothly.”

Ken Hoover, Classical Voice of North Carolina (CVNC)

Washington National Opera – Carmen

With Appomattox, its first Philip Glass work, and its first complete Ring cycle on the horizon, not to mention a staging of Lost in the Stars, Washington National Opera turned to something more conventional to open its sixtieth season on September 19. But there was nothing routine about the production of Carmen at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Attractively cast, fluently directed by E. Loren Meeker and incisively conducted by Evan Rogister, the venture crackled with energy from the top of the Prelude to Act I. Fanny Ara and Timo Nunez, choreographed by Sara Erde, offered suitably sultry flamenco duets here and during the Preludes to Acts III and IV. Rogister and Meeker opted for an effective mesh of Guiraud recitatives and modest amounts of spoken dialogue, some complete with their original underscoring. The result was a taut, swift-moving version of the opera.”

Tim Smith, Opera News

“If opera is meant to be a true synthesis, bringing together the many art forms of music, singing, dance, acting, and the visual arts, then Washington National Opera’s Carmen has created a smashing “top drawer” example. For their sixtieth season opener, the company has rolled out the ever popular Georges Bizet opera but made the new-to-Washington production feel truly like a fresh take with stunning contemporary design elements that integrate with the rich musical palette of pleasing tunes, a taut spoken-based text that keeps the show moving, and the inclusion of flamenco dancing that is as first class as the singing… Director E. Loren Meeker defines the main story very clearly and at the same time populates the stage so that there is a rich and crowded world that supports it. Meeker shares Artistic Director Zambello’s knack for creating a depth of stage pictures and incorporating specific actions of individuals in the chorus to weave in multiple little vignettes.”

Susan Galbraith, DC Theater Scene

“Carmen, now playing at the Kennedy Center, is uniquely brilliant. From the very first moment of its robust overture, echoing the now-iconic “Toreador Song” of the second act, the flavor of this opera is revealed to be unlike any other. Powerful and dynamic, the Washington National Opera’s production is not to be missed… Carmen is a powerful, engaging, and moving production, performed seamlessly by an immensely talented cast and production crew. While the Kennedy Center never stints on professionalism, this performance goes beyond mere adequacy, and into the realm of true brilliance.”

Morgan Halvorsenon, MD Theatre Guide

“The Washington National Opera launches their 60th season with a visually gorgeous and vocally stunning Carmen… The production- itself from Canadian Opera Company and newly staged for the WNO by Director E. Loren Meeker – feels fresh.”

Jessica Vaughan, DC Metro Theater Arts

“The deft directorship of E. Loren Meeker (a WNO debut) and choreographer Sara Erde put the physicality of the opera – the performance within the performance – front and center. Dancers Fanny Ara and Timo Nuñez danced Gypsy-style flamenco at the start of each act (apart from Act III). This brilliant addition added depth to the experience of a very familiar opera. Not only did it render Carmen’s culture with a certain authenticity (otherwise we have merely stereotypes), but we saw in the form of dance the duende – the possession to which a dancer submits, the paroxysm of soul and body, which were replicated in song and in theme… Carmen is that strange breed: the Opéra Comique that changed the genre from within. The grindingly inevitable tragedy is frankly easier to convey. Well-achieved tonight was the element of light relief. Knowing the end as we do it was a nice sleight-of-hand to make the audience believe that things just might have turned out differently. In keeping fate at bay, the production stayed true to the work’s Opéra Comique origins. I thought the last scene especially well staged and an example of what I’m referring to: underneath the stands of the bull-ring, sedate parasols, occasionally twirling, and panamas were visible in profile, cheers for the victorious toreador punctuating the appalling denouement. But it shouldn’t just jar us to see people having fun, right then, we should even feel that pull towards the fiesta. And this all the while as Carmen, red petals (from her hair? her body?), spilling each time Don José pushed her to the ground, fell, deflowered finally and dead, blood red colouring the whole stage. “Quelle vérité” as was said after the première “mais quelle scandale”.”​

Hilary Stroh, Bachtrack