Fort Worth in 1963 and Auschwitz in 1943 have both been on Thaddeus Strassberger’s mind recently, but the director and designer – Oklahoma – born, London based, and a specialist in opera – exudes the same intense energy and curiosity in his engagement with Ancient Babylon as evoked in 1840s Milan. “My role has never been to invent new worlds,” he explains, “but to act as the curator of a vast collection from the whole of history and to choose the bits of our world that are right for the opera I’m working on. As I travel around, I collect images that seem to pop out at me and I store them in my head. Then, when I am starting to put together initial concepts for a production of a specific opera, I go shopping in my interior charity shop of ideas to see what would work. There is a huge treasure trove that we can pick from and sometimes you can take an item and transform it into something new… a director’s or a designer’s ‘brand’ does not have to be associated with the same aesthetic all the time, and by taking on both roles I instinctively challenge myself to be bolder, to take risks, to push things further.

Text by y Yehuda Shapiro. Interview by Dana Pinto. Contributor by Mattie Ullrich.