James Darrah

Opera Producer/Stage Director


Los Angeles based director and designer James Darrah’s collaborative focus through varied mediums has quickly led him to be recognized as “a gifted young American director” (Chicago Tribune), with an unconventional and varied body of work that “injects real drama” (New York Times) into new theater and opera productions, video and film installations, and events that become “once-in-a-lifetime experience[s]” (Opera News).

Recent projects include the acclaimed world premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s operatic adaptation of Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves for Opera Philadelphia and the Prototype Festival in New York, a return to his annual residency with Opera Omaha, where he launched a production of Handel’s Semele in a co-production with Opera Philadelphia; direction and design for a music video for mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato on her new album In War and Peace on Warner Classics/ Erato, his European directorial debut with Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon, Portugal for new production of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride; and an installment of San Francisco Symphony’s trailblazing SOUNDBOX series.

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“The real sonic triumph came two weeks later, with a staged performance of Claude Debussy’s Symbolist opera Pelléas et Mélisande. Maestro Louis Langrée led a brilliant performance of Debussy’s haunting, sensuous score. And director/designer James Darrah came through with an inventive staging that allowed the singers to literally surround the orchestra.”

27 December 2017

Anne Arenstein


“A visionary, supercharged production…This was one of those rare productions in which almost everything seemed ideally suited… [a] stunning visual display…Imaginative and energetic…a resoundingly good production.”

Melinda Bargreen


“[The] production served up a frothy concoction full of passion and desire…Director James Darrah brought ancient Rome to racy contemporary life with staging that was sexy and suggestive. Scenes such as Claudius’ triumphant return to Rome and the shunning of Ottone had a cinematic feel, ones that distilled the characters’ personalities to full effect. In these instances, his directing showcased the former’s brutality when dealing with the men beneath him and the latter’s naivete concerning the machinations taking place around him.”

Kim Carpenter

Omaha World Herald

More Reviews

“It is to the credit of James Darrah in his production of ‘Radamisto’ that he injects real drama…striking…”

James R. Oestriech, The New York Times

“…a glorious mess…….the perfect thing to put on to celebrate the 10th anniversary of LA’s Walt Disney Hall and its already turbulent history. The mood in the sold-out hall was practically jubilant”

Isaac Schankler, NEWMUSICBOX

“[The] elements, from music to acting to visuals, come together organically. The visuals for this production are also eloquent. [They] set a mood for each scene that’s subtle and doesn’t try to manipulate the audience’s emotions. [The] ensemble manages to sustain a dreamlike, narrative quality throughout which is quite spellbinding.”

Chloe Veltman, Arts Journal Online