About Keturah

Keturah Stickann’s work has been seen in countless opera houses across the United States and Canada, as well as in Chile, Japan, France, Germany, Hungary, and Australia.  A champion of new American opera, she has worked extensively with director and librettist, Leonard Foglia, helping to bring new operas to the stage by Ricky Ian Gordon, Jennifer Higdon, Jose “Pepe” Martinez, and Jake Heggie & Gene Scheer.  Her work on the premieres of Moby-Dick (2010), and It’s A Wonderful Life (2016) prompted Jake Heggie to ask her to helm the premiere of his newest opera, If I Were You (2019), at the Merola Opera Program.  In addition, she has directed works by Mr. Gordon, Laura Kaminsky, Anthony Davis, and Robert Aldridge.

Ms. Stickann has a well-rounded operatic repertoire, directing new productions including Candide, La clemenza di Tito, Dialogues of the Carmelites, Don Giovanni, L’enfant et les sortileges, Jonathan Dove’s Flight, Norma, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Pelléas et Mélisande, The Seven Deadly Sins, Tosca, La tragédie de Carmen, and La traviata, among others.

Born and raised in the Midwest, Ms. Stickann had an early career as a classical and contemporary dancer, dancing extensively in opera toward the end of her performing career. Her background in dance and theater has made her a sought after movement coach, working with young artists at the La Jolla Playhouse, the Brevard Music Center, Stephen’s College, DePaul University, Opera Memphis, The San Diego Opera, and Virginia Opera.

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Directorial Approach

Keturah’s background in dance and theater makes for an interesting combination of text-based directing and movement-based directing, all while being informed by the music, which sits at the fore of any opera.

Her early dance influences of Pina Bausch, Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, and George Balanchine allow her to respond to music from a muscular, choreographic place.  In her staging, she helps coax organic physicality from singers to enhance their storytelling.  Her background in dance education allows her to find a physical language catered to each individual’s singer’s needs and abilities.

A text influenced creator, even as a choreographer, Keturah has always had a knack for taking apart text and finding what’s inside.  As she worked with theater directors such as Mary Zimmerman, Lillian Groag, and Leonard Foglia, these skills developed further.  She enjoys working through words with the performers, deciding where to dive deep and where to work against.

Combined, Keturah’s work has a flow that is often described as “cinematic” or “painterly.”  Playing off of the musical canvas with both head and heart, she strives for her work to be truthful, visceral, and well-rounded in its approach.

Background

Raised as a classical and contemporary dancer, Keturah studied at the State Ballet of Missouri School, and at Jacob’s Pillow before getting her BFA in dance education and choreography with an emphasis on site-specific performance at Columbia College Chicago.

Keturah danced with Cerulean Dance Theatre, Colleen Halloran Dance, SCW/The Group, The Wally Cardona Quartet, and Malashock Dance over the course of her performing career, as well as for numerous opera companies including San Diego Opera and New York City Opera, which is what ultimately drew her to opera.

As a dancer in opera, she is most known for originating the role of the gazelle in the Zandra Rhodes production of The Pearl Fishers from 2004.

Keturah retired from performing in 2005, and immediately took a position as staff assistant director at Florida Grand Opera.  Her assisting career took her around the world, and she worked with revered directors such as Dr. Michael Hampe, Lotfi Mansouri, John Copley, Harry Silverstein, and Mark Lamos.  She assisted on over 50 productions before becoming a director in her own right.

Recognition

As a dancer, Keturah was a 1998 nominee for the Princess Grace Award for excellence in the arts. Later in her performing career, she was the principal dancer for two dance films by John Malashock and John Menier (Soul of Saturday Night and Love & Murder) which received both regional Emmy Awards, and Aurora Awards for best overall performing arts program.

Keturah was a member of one of the first finalist teams for the inaugural Opera America Director/Designer competition in 2009.  As choreographer, she created a movement landscape for Elise Sandell’s concept for Einstein on the Beach.

Keturah was the movement director, choreographer, and revival director for the world premiere production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick, directed by Leonard Foglia. The production was presented nine times in three different countries, and was filmed in San Francisco for PBS’ Great Performances.  In 2011, it took three Helpmann Awards for its performance in Adelaide, Australia, including best opera production.

Full List of Productions

  • Eugene Opera
    As One
    2019
  • Madison Opera
    Rusalka
    2019
  • El Paso Opera
    Cruzar La Cara de la Luna
    Revival
    2019
  • Michigan Opera Theatre
    Candide
    2019
  • West Edge Opera
    Pelléas et Mélisande
    2018
  • Opera Omaha
    Opera Outdoors
    Concert
    2018
  • Opera Southwest
    Norma
    2018
  • Florida Grand Opera
    Orfeo ed Euridice
    2018
  • San Diego Opera
    Turandot
    2018
  • Jacob's School of Music
    It's a Wonderful Life
    Revival
    2017
  • North Carolina Opera
    ​Cold Mountain
    Revival
    2017
  • Chautauqua Opera
    Orfeo
    2017
  • Tulsa Opera
    From Puccini to Pop
    2017
  • Opera Colorado
    Lucia di Lammermoor
    2017
  • Opera Birmingham
    The Elixir of Love
    2017
  • Rutger's University
    Dialogues of the Carmelites
    2017
  • Dallas Opera
    Moby Dick
    Revival
    2016
  • Virginia Opera
    Seven Deadly Sins/Pagliacci
    2016
  • Chautauqua Opera
    La traviata
    2016
  • Knoxville Opera
    Tosca
    Site specific
    2016
  • CAL-IT at UCSD
    Lilith
    Workshop with Peter Torpey through a technology grant
    2015
  • Kentucky Opera
    Macbeth
    2015
  • Emerald City Opera
    L’Enfant et les Sortileges
    2015
  • Emerald City Opera
    Bon Appetit
    2015
  • Knoxville Opera
    Il Trovatore
    2015
  • Opera in the Heights
    La clemenza di Tito
    2015
  • Opera Colorado
    Madama Butterfly
    2014
  • Tobin Center for the Arts
    Celebration of the Arts Opening Gala
    2014
  • Janiec Opera Company
    Don Giovanni
    2014
  • Janiec Opera Company
    Sister Carrie
    workshop, co-directed with Dean Anthony
    2014
  • San Diego Opera
    Don Quichotte
    2014
  • Opera Fayetteville
    Flight
    2014
  • Sarasota Opera
    The Pearl Fishers
    2013
  • Janiec Opera Company
    La tragédie de Carmen
    2013
  • Opera Memphis
    Rigoletto
    2013
  • Knoxville Opera
    The Tales of Hoffmann
    2013
  • Opera in the Heights
    Don Pasquale
    2013
  • Emerald City Opera
    Le Nozze di Figaro
    2012
  • Opera Santa Barbara
    Madama Butterfly
    2012
  • Knoxville Opera
    La traviata
    2011
  • Knoxville
    Manon
    2011
  • Emerald City Opera
    Suor Angelica
    2010
  • Emerald City Opera
    The Telephone
    2009
  • Emerald City Opera
    The Old Maid & The Thief
    2009
  • Glimmerglass Opera
    Britten's Canticle #2
    2007
  • And How Productions
    ...In Time
    2006
  • And How Productions
    Utazo (The Traveler)
    Dance Film
    2006
  • And How Productions
    Weiblich Ist
    Dance Film
    2006
  • Envision Arts
    The Brecht Project
    2006
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