Biography (Extended)

Tim studied English at Cambridge, then attended the Sherman Theatre Cardiff’s post-grad theatre course, starting work as an assistant director at Scottish Opera in 1987, then at Opera North and ENO

Tim began directing his own productions in 1989, working also with film / videography from 1994, and designing scenography from 1998.   He is interested in performance disciplines of many kinds, particularly music-related, traditional and contemporary.  He now also makes new  pieces in a variety of forms, alone and in collaboration, acts as creative director for projects featuring other artists, and sometimes as consultant, advisor or mentor.

As director he has made productions for Opera North, The Royal Opera, Welsh National Opera, English National Opera, Theater Basel, Buhnen Graz, Staatsoper Hannover, Teatro dell’Opera Roma, Bayerische Staatsoper Festspiel, Wexford Festival, Glimmerglass, English Touring Opera, Dublin Grand Opera Society, Alternative Lyrique Paris, Almeida Opera, Aldeburgh Festival, Aurora Orchestra, Channel 4 TV, Batignano Festival, BBC Symphony & BBC Proms, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Northern Sinfonia, South Bank Centre, Battersea Arts Centre, London Sinfonietta, London Artists Projects, Hyperjam and others.  He has worked with a number of composers – Luciano Berio, Harrison Birtwistle, Mauricio Kagel, Judith Weir, Lionel Bart, Tansy Davies, Dai Fujikura, Mira Calix, Claudia Molitor, John Woolrich, Rob Thomas, Jonathan Dove, Carleen Anderson and others, directing their work.

Productions have often been meeting points for diverse artists in creative teams,  connecting traditional and contemporary ideas, or imagining futures for the art-form.  He also makes solo pieces in various media, currently Four Quartets on Film (56 mins), film responses to contemporary string quartets screened at Aldeburgh Festival 23.

In 2001 he was awarded a NESTA Fellowship to look at lyric theatre and new technology, and how opera’s 400-year  tradition could engage with this.

Undertaken from 2002 to 2005, this allowed Tim to develop new work, a consideration of related European opera practice, and reflections on the impact of technological transformation emotionally, politically, culturally.

It saw a shift from interpretive art (as a director of existing works) towards making new pieces, often in collaboration.  The NESTA Fellowship brought new experience through making, observing others, and specialist guidance. In film, Simon Pummell, Walter Donahue and Michael Mann acted as advisers, (Tim observing Mann direct Collateral 2003-4.) In opera, this included research visits to intendants in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Dresden, Hamburg, Theatre an der Wien, *Theatre Basel and *Staatsoper Hannover (*where he also directed.)

In 2006 he resumed independent practice, directing opera repertoire and making new work: a media-theatre production of Britten’s opera for TV, Owen Wingrave, (for The Royal Opera); a site-specific opera Elephant and Castle,  created with Pippa Nissen, Tansy Davies, Mira Calix, Pippa Nissen and Blake Morrison (for Aldeburgh Festival); directing the quartet from Mozart’s Seraglio (Channel 4 TV); the installation Lost Chord at Belsay Hall (Opera North/English Heritage.)

In 2007 he was awarded an AHRC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts, hosted by the Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre (CROMT) at the University of Sussex.  Running part-time until 2012, the programme supported Tim’s research for three new projects produced by partners outside the University – Give Me Your Blessing for I go to a foreign land (with composer Elena Langer for Royal Opera House 2), The Lost Chord  (Opera North) and TV Opera – Idomeneo TV (Aldeburgh Music).  Each explored performance through old and new media.  They focused respectively on Stravinsky and folk music; the Victorian creative imagination; new ways of making opera performance on screen. ‘Astonished and Terrified – Opera and the Transformation of the World By Technology’, a conference marking the end of the AHRC Fellowship was hosted by CROMT in 2012.  His relationship with Sussex continues, as Senior Research Fellow (part-time) in experimental music theatre.

In 2011-12 he was creative director of BBC Proms Music Walk 2012 – an online platform and live event for site-specific commissions by Alvin Curran, Judith Weir, David Sawer, Claudia Molitor, Alwynne Pritchard, Sound Intermedia, and others, responding to locations around Exhibition Road, designed to be heard on headphones at the locations themselves. This also marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Cage. With producer Joana Seguro he developed a successor – Soundtracks – intended for larger urban contexts (supported through a development commission from Sound and Music 2013.)

In 2012 Welsh National Opera invited him to help develop their use of digital media, leading to the proposal Land Of Song, (Artangel 100 list 2013) and to Occupation (co-produced by Welsh National Opera and The Space, 2014-15) – commissions for composers to write songs in response to current events, released online in real time according to the flow of news events.   In 2015 directed site specific performance for the Science Museum of Objects at an Exhibition, a group of new compositions inspired by objects, for Aurora Orchestra and NMC.

Recently Tim has been developing Empathy Machine with composer Rob Thomas – Opera for Virtual Reality systems, for use in the field of conflict resolution, (supported by ACE, Glyndebourne, Artists and Engineers, V&A Museum); Melancholy Artefacts, new music theatre piece with composer Judith Weir, for commemoration of the 1914-18 War, evoking the desperate ingenuity of the closing months of WW1;  Encore!, Composed Theatre piece curated by John Woolrich (50th Anniversary London Sinfonietta RFH); Tapestry Project, an installation about how Britain narrates itself, with music by Rob Thomas (Bridgepoint Rye); Kagel – Turning Points, direction and performing  (London Sinfonietta).

He has recently completed Four Quartets on Film, film responses to string quartets by Judith Weir, Helen Grime, Joe Cutler and John Woolrich, which premiered at Aldeburgh Festival 23.

He has translated operas from Italian and French for performance in English, contributed to professional debate, (e.g. Opera Europa panels, 2005 and 2015), and acted as consultant to Scottish Opera (2016) and Welsh National Opera (2012) on their response to the digital realm. He mentors emerging directors/artists for European Network of Opera Academies (ENOA.)

Commissions by organisation

Commissions by date