(born 26/8/1983 in Warsaw, Poland)
Photo by Camille Cooken
Krystian Lada is a Polish stage director, dramaturg, librettist and curator currently based in Belgium and working internationally in the fields of opera, music theatre and classical music. In his work, Lada explores alternative forms of collaboration between artists, policy-makers and citizens. His projects are informed by the feminist and post-colonial perspective on the classical repertoire and aim at developing new intersectional platforms for exchange in polycultural communities. He believes that opera – as an art form and as an institution – can be a vital engine for inclusive evolution of the society.
Lada began his career in Polish television, and worked for media production houses as a reporter, copywriter, creative director and director. He went on to study dramaturgy, and to undertake literary research at the University of Amsterdam. As a dramaturg, he has worked for leading European companies including Dutch National Opera, La Monnaie, Berliner Staatsoper, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Polish National Opera – Teatr Wielki, National Forum of Music in Wrocław, Opera Wrocławska, Opera in Poznań, International Theatre Amsterdam, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Netherlands Theatre Festival, Holland Festival and International Choreographic Arts Centre in Amsterdam. He has collaborated with opera directors and visual artists including Pierre Audi, Mariusz Treliński, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Tobias Kratzer, Yuval Sharon, Lydia Steier, Sjaron Minailo and Kirsten Dehlholm (Hotel Pro Forma), and has worked with contemporary opera composers Nico Muhly, Annelies Van Parys, Andrzej Kwieciński and Katarzyna Głowicka. His librettos have been commissioned and presented by the Rotterdam Opera Days (Slowness), Ostade Theatre in Amsterdam (The Dead Class: Requiem) and Polish National Opera (Requiem for an Icon). Lada’s stage adaptation of Katharina Hacker’s novel Tel Aviv was nominated for Kölner Theaterpreis. Recently, he has collaborated with Ivo van Hove on The Diary of One Who Disappeared for Music Theatre Transparant and on Network that was premiered at the National Theatre of London and presented on Broadway.
Lada’s most recent stage directing works include Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Verdi’s Nabucco as an open-air spectacle for Opera Wrocławska, as well as new immersive opera formats Unknown, I Live With You (based on poems by Afghan women) and Aria di Potenza (combining opera arias and speeches by contemporary politicians) for Nuit Blanche Brussels. Moreover, he directed Büchner’s Woyzeck for Amsterdam Fringe Festival and A Girl and A Gun for the National Forum of Music in Wrocław.
As part of his professional training he followed a series of workshops among others at Pina Bausch Tanztheater and ateliers by Patrice Chéreau, Katie Mitchell, David Pountney and Manfred Trojahn in the framework of the European Network of Opera Academies. Moreover, he attended the Theater Kampnagel International Summer Academy “Performing Politics” in Hamburg with workshops by Philippe Quesne, Forced Entertainment, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Shermin Langhoff, Mark Ravenhill and Hans-Thies Lehmann.
Lada has been involved in artistic management of several European arts and culture organisations. Between 2013-2016 he held the position of Director of Dramaturgy, Empowerment and Communication and was an Artistic Deputy at the Belgian Royal Opera La Monnaie. There he initiated several pioneering projects and launched new formats for outreach and interaction with different audience groups incl. the intergenerational opera Medúlla with music by Björk and a sonic bike opera Finding Song Home by Kaffe Matthews, co-created with Brussels communities. He is an advisor to the Dutch Performing Arts Fund in the field of festivals. In May 2017, Lada founded and has been since then General and Artistic Director of The Airport Society – a Brussels-based cooperative of opera artists and social game changers. The Airport Society initiates projects at the intersection of opera, activism and social engagement. By developing projects outside of the traditional opera production schemes, they question the usual power and resources distribution in the field, and explore alternative strategies for opera creation, production and presentation.
Prior to that, Lada graduated from the Leadership Intensive program for promising professionals in the operatic field organised by Opera America. He was also a member of the Young Delegates program of Opera Europa.
Sharing his experience with others, empowering individuals by means of artistic creation and voicing perspectives that are excluded from the mainstream of the social discourse is an important part of his professional activities. He was a jury member of the Music Theatre Now 2018 worldwide competition for innovative opera and music theatre formats that has been organised by International Theatre Institute and was in the selection committee of DasArts Master program of the Amsterdam Theatre School. He is a mentor of Future Opera program for young composers by the Bergen National Opera. Lada has curated the European Opera Days in the Netherlands, the event Fringe Fuel (a creative activism and professional empowerment programme for artists) for the Amsterdam Fringe Festival, and the research and expertise platform United States of Opera (which focuses on the form and function of opera in contemporary society). He used to collaborate with the Goethe Institute in the Netherlands where he developed and curated several socially engaged projects, incl. the Euro-Mediterranean Academy for Young Journalists. He realised the Kantor Happening Now festival – a series of workshops and lectures in Amsterdam popularising the oeuvre of Polish theater practitioner Tadeusz Kantor.
In the coming seasons Lada will focus on his stage directing projects. His future engagements include Rossini’s Sigismondo for Capella Cracoviensis and Opera Rara Festival, as well as Schoenberg’s Erwartung and Berio’s Sinfonia for Opera Ballet Vlaanderen and Klara Festival in Brussels. Polish National Opera – Teatr Wielki commissioned Lada with a new libretto for the opera Moniuszko à Paris (premiere in September 2019 during the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music as a part of the Year of Stanisław Moniuszko, later to be presented as well at La Monnaie in Brussels). His immersive opera Unknown, I Live With You will be showcased among others during the Rotterdam Opera Days in May 2019, at the Opera Rara Festival 2020 in Cracow and at Kurt Weill Fest 2020.