Stephen A. Brown - Stage Director
Metropolitan Opera, New York
A native of the United Kingdom, Stephen A. Brown was educated at Latymer Upper School, and holds a teaching degree in Voice from the Royal College of Music in London. He commenced his theatrical career as a sound engineer for an ice spectacular at the Empire Pool, Wembley, later moving on to stage manage plays, ice shows and annual Christmas pantomimes for several West End theatre managements in London and on tour.
Stephen received a diploma in Stage Management from the London Opera Centre, the rehearsal and training facility for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he also later worked for the Royal Ballet. Following this, he toured Britain for a year with the touring company of the Royal Opera and the Arts Council of Great Britain.
For several years he commuted between Europe and the U.S.A., working for the Kent Opera Company, and at the Wexford and Göttingen Festivals, as well as regular seasons of Handel operas at Sadler's Wells Theatre - where he also worked on the Western premiere of Szymanowski's opera King Roger, conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. At this time in America he directed a number of operas, musicals and plays at regional theatres including The Lion in Winter, The Real Inspector Hound, Romeo and Juliet, Oscar Wilde's Salome and Mozart's Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute and The Abduction from the Seraglio.
Stephen's London theatre work included Strindberg's "The Pelican" with Prunella Scales at The Round House, prior to becoming a Deputy Stage Manager at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain. He then served as Company Stage Manager for the West End transfer of Julian Mitchell's play Half Life starring Sir John Gielgud, as well as working at Royal Court Theatre with Sir Laurence Olivier, Dame Peggy Ashcroft and Dame Maggie Smith and various other theatrical luminaries in the annual George Devine Theatre Gala.
Following experience as an Assistant Stage Manager with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Stephen later became Production Stage Manager for Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston. This then led to a move to New York, where he was Stage Manager for the Metropolitan Opera Association for eighteen seasons, responsible for over eighty new productions, revivals and telecasts, including the premieres and telecasts of the Otto Schenk production of Wagner's Ring Cycle. During this time, he also worked for major international companies, including the Bolshoi Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater and the Kirov Opera.
In 1997 Stephen was appointed the Metropolitan Opera's Company Manager, with oversight of the scheduling and budgeting of the performing members of the company. He was also actively involved in the creation and development of the Chevron-Texaco/Metropolitan Opera Early Notes Education Project for 5-, 6- and 7-year old New York City School children, and the simultaneous expansion of the program to High School and University level students leading to internships at the Metropolitan Opera. Other responsibilities as Company Manager have included the negotiation of contracts with various union performing groups, and the organisation and administration of domestic and foreign tours.
Since 1989, Stephen has been a regular panelist on the internationally syndicated Saturday afternoon Chevron-Texaco-Metropolitan Opera Radio Quiz, including the 60th. Anniversary Broadcast in December 1999; in April 2000 he wrote and presented the radio introduction to the broadcast of Wagner's Ring Cycle and he has latterly been a guest on the Metropolitan Opera Sirius Satellite channel. Since 2001 he judges regularly for the annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition at both District and Regional level in many cities from Puerto Rico to Seattle, given master-classes in several music conservatories and universities in the U.S., and participated in panel discussions for the Wagner Society of New York.
In New York, Stephen has served as Secretary to the Broadway Equity Stage Managers' Association. In the past few years he has directed a number of classical plays Off-Broadway, including Samuel Becket’s Waiting for Godot, and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Troilus and Cressida and Hamlet. Other productions include A Man For All Seasons, and three Commedia dell'Arte improvisational multi-media productions by Carlo Gozzi in the Harkness Plaza at Lincoln Centre - Turandot, Love for Three Oranges and King Stag. He also produced a version of Stravinsky's A Soldier's Tale with Jose Ferrer, and for a time worked with the famous Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre in the Bowery. In association with his wife - the nationally-recognised choreographer Leslie Jane Pessemier – Stephen staged regional productions of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and Prokofiev’s ballet, Cinderella.
In 2005, Stephen visited Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, at the request of the U.S. Department of State, working as a consultant for the rebuilding, redevelopment and reform of the Georgian Stage Opera and Ballet Theatre. Following an invitation the next year from the Arts Council of Mongolia, he worked as a consultant on the performing and visual arts in the capital, Ulaan Baatar; in 2007 he visited Budapest and Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains of Russia to serve as a music and theatre consultant to a number of performing arts organisations.
Stephen currently lives by a lake in north central New Jersey with his wife and their daughter Alexandra.