Known for his “distinctive staging style” and for being “the most inventive opera director in town” (St Paul Pioneer Press), Robert Neu is challenging the norms by becoming a pioneer in the field of semi-staged operas with symphony orchestras. Sought after for his highly theatrical and musically sensitive work, Neu has directed more than eighty productions of opera, musical theater, and plays throughout the country. This season, Neu directs St. John Passion with Lyric Opera of the North, La Boheme with Opera Orlando, As One with Skylark Opera Theatre and West Side Story with Central City Opera and Boulder Philharmonic.
Last season’s productions included a début with Emerald City Opera for Florencia en el Amazonas, a début with Jacksonville Symphony for a remounting of Hänsel und Gretel, and St. Matthew Passion in his début with Central City Opera and Boulder Philharmonic; productions of La bohème with Colorado Symphony and Shreveport Opera; Don Giovanni with Opera Orlando in their inaugural season; The Tragedy of Carmen with Skylark Opera; and St. Matthew Passion with Colorado Symphony, as well as leading a new site-specific production of Le nozze di Figaro set in the James J. Hill House in St. Paul, MN involving immersive theater where the audience members follow the story through different rooms of the historic home.
His fully-staged productions include Così fan tutte with Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, La bohème with West Virginia Opera and Gulf Coast Symphony, Trouble in Tahiti for the Minneapolis Fringe Festival, and Le nozze di Figaro for Bellevue Opera. Over the past decade, Neu established an on-going relationship with Skylark Opera for which he has directed a wide variety of operettas, operas and musicals including Naughty Marietta, Don Pasquale, The Merry Widow, On the Town, Wonderful Town, The Fantasticks, Candide, and Putting It Together. Also an audience favorite with Lyric Opera of the North, he has directed its productions of Don Pasquale, The Face on the Barroom Floor, Carmen and Il barbiere di Siviglia. In the theatre genre, he helmed productions of Oliver, The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, Patience, Becky’s New Car, Death of a Salesman, Art, Godspell, Blithe Spirit and The Laramie Project for theatre companies throughout the United States.
With his vast experience of bringing semi-staged operatic repertoire to symphony orchestra stages, Robert Neu has worked closely with the Minnesota Opera presenting critically acclaimed productions of Candide, Fidelio, Hänsel und Gretel, Tosca, Carmen, Peer Gynt, La bohème, La traviata, Bernstein’s Mass, Die Zauberflöte, Die Fledermaus, and Carousel. With the Colorado Symphony, he has directed Tosca and The Music Man. Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops audiences have seen his productions of The Music Man, Die Zauberflöte, Peer Gynt, and The Sound of Music.
As an innovator who seeks to combine symphonic music with theater in unique ways, Neu has adapted a version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for four actors and orchestra which has been produced by orchestras across the country including Minnesota Orchestra, Des Moines Symphony, Eugene Symphony, and Wintergreen Music Festival.
He has also co-written and produced a series of programs that seek to introduce orchestra audiences to the joys of opera. His production company, Angels & Demons Entertainment, focuses on working with orchestras in producing theatrical and operatic offerings.
In the past ten years, nine of Neu’s productions have received “Best of the Season” citations from various media including Minneapolis Star Tribune, Cincinnati Post, St. Paul Pioneer Press and Minnesota Public Radio. His production of The Laramie Project received awards for Best Ensemble and Outstanding Theater Event of the 2014 season from Broadway World.
Neu teaches masterclasses in audition techniques for the University of Minnesota’s opera department, and he is a Resident Director at Lyric Arts Theater in Minneapolis. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School.