Jennifer Williams

Acclaimed by The San Francisco Chronicle as an “imaginative” director of “particular ingenuity,” director and Fulbright Scholar Jennifer Williams was recently recognized for her experimental and innovative work by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

An innovator in multimedia, immersive and site-specific approaches to opera, Williams has created performance installations throughout New York, Berlin, Hong Kong (upcoming), Washington, DC, and internationally. In addition to serving as a Drama Coach for the Houston Grand Opera Studio, she recently directed acclaimed productions for Michigan Opera Theatre and Austin Opera. A passionate advocate of contemporary opera, she has directed BMP: Next Generation, a double-bill of world premieres for Beth Morrison Projects at National Sawdust; the world premiere of Backwards from Winter for soprano, electric cello and electronics (Center for Contemporary Opera, New York); a new production of The Crucible in Berlin’s Theater im Delphi; acclaimed new productions of Mohammed Fairouz’s Sumeida’s Song and Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek’s 27 for Pittsburgh Opera; and “consistently imaginative” and “extraordinarily beautiful” new productions of Ainadamar and Dark Sisters as well as Les contes d’Hoffmann, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and La bohème for Miami Music Festival. Upcoming new productions include directing the world premiere of Carmen | Hong Kong, a new immersive multimedia adaptation of Bizet’s opera set amidst the Triad gangs of Hong Kong for More Than Musical (Hong Kong) at West Kowloon Culture District’s new Box Freespace; a new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia staged in the round for Sacramento Opera; a new production of Libby Larsen’s Barnum’s Bird as an immersive circus installation for New Camerata Opera at (le) poisson rouge in New York; a fully staged, immersive multimedia installation of Richard Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder at The Alchemical in New York; an immersive production of Rigoletto at The Box (New York); and joining the faculty of Aspen Music Festival as an Artist-in-Residence.

A sought-after acting teacher and dramatic coach, she has served as a Drama Coach for the Houston Grand Opera Studio and was slated to join the faculty of Aspen Music Festival in the summer of 2020. Other recent work includes serving on the faculties of CCM Spoleto in Italy, Berlin Opera Academy, Miami Music Festival Opera Institute, and Seagle Music Colony and working with the young artist programs of the San Francisco Opera Center, Wolf Trap Opera Company, The Glimmerglass Festival, Michigan Opera Theatre, Cincinnati Opera, Central City Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera.

Williams trained in the Viewpoints with Anne Bogart at the SITI Company in her inaugural series of masterclasses in Viewpoints for Directors. As an associate and assistant director, she has worked with directors such as David Alden, Barrie Kosky, Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito, James Robinson, Sir Thomas Allen, Francesca Zambello, Paul Curran, and Seán Curran. She apprenticed as a Regiehospitantin at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Komische Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Stuttgart, and Oper Frankfurt; was a staff director at Houston Grand Opera and associate director at Washington National Opera; and has been a guest revival director at The Kennedy Center and Theatro Municipal de São Paulo.

Her research in opera and theater history has been published by Nineteenth-Century Music Review (Cambridge University Press), Grove Music (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), Feminist German Studies, Text and Performance Quarterly, and Journal of Religion and Theatre. She also created the popular podcast Disruptive Stages: conversations about the ideas that disrupt and transform the performing arts.

A Fulbright Scholar, Williams holds a Ph.D. in Theatre Theory and Criticism from Cornell University and an A.B. with honors in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities from the University of Chicago. She was the Apprentice Stage Director at the San Francisco Opera Merola Opera Program and trained at SITI Company in the Viewpoints with Anne Bogart and in opera directing at CCM.

Jennifer Williams lives in Brooklyn and is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and American Guild of Musical Artists.

January 2021