Stage Director
Acclaim
 
FGO triumphs with an old-fashioned operatic beauty in "Florencia"

"Stage director Jose Maria Condemi did a fine job throughout of melding the realistic and fantastic. Florencia en el Amazonas may be the most immediately likeable and accessible of the contemporary operas put on by FGO in recent years."

David Fleshler, South Florida Classical Review
This 'Carmen' Puts Fire Into Opera, Justifying the Trip to Central City

"The company's approach to Carmen, which runs through August 6, is definitely world-class, and very smart. Director Jose Maria Condemi turns what can easily be played as a story of slut-shaming into a cautionary tale about how jealousy leads to domestic violence."

Kyle Harris, Westword
Central City offers splendid mainstage productions of ‘Così fan tutte’ and ‘Carmen’

"The stage direction by Jose Maria Condemi was full of ideas and inventions. Many were effective touches enhancing characterization, especially of smaller roles."

Peter Alexander, Boulder Weekly
This “Carmen” is smoking: Central City Opera breathes fire into an audience favorite

"As a production, it is pleasing and terrifically tight and ultra-traditional, just as its creators imagined it in 1875. Director Jose Maria Condemi has, for the most part, resisted messing with the formula as some like to do to keep familiar titles fresh for audiences who have seen them a dozen times or more. Instead, he has gone the opposite way, pushing his characters to feel and indulge in the nuances of composer Georges Bizet’s emphatic music. Everything, from the costumes to the sets to the singing, honors the opera’s lusty, lurid essence. Call the fire department, this 'Carmen' is smoking. And so is everyone else on stage; they light up cigarettes at every chance. Condemi employs their deliberate puffs as punctuation marks. Carmen can use her long draw as a come on, stretching her neck and offering a seductive, sideways glance. Or she can make it turn-off off, exhaling a rude cloud directly in a suitor’s face."

Ray Mark Rinaldi, Denver Post
Soaring voices, dramatic tension elevate Central City's 'Carmen'

"Central City Opera's production this summer, which opened last Saturday to launch its summer festival, is more satisfying than either of those recent attempts. At the first matinee performance on Wednesday at the jewel box opera house in the mountains on a pleasantly overcast afternoon, the audience was treated to a magnificent display of vocal power and a visually satisfying production from director Jose Maria Condemi."

Kelly Dean Hansen, Daily Camera
Frida - Cincinnati Opera

"Stage director Jose Maria Condemi kept the potentially confusing action completely clear."

 

Joe Law, Opera News
Cincinnati Opera’s ‘Frida’ tinged with emotion, fiery spirit

"In one of the opera’s most powerful moments, director Jose Maria Condemi staged Frida’s miscarriage as a nightmarish scene with the Calaveras, a puppet on a stick and streams of red ribbons... In Act II, Condemi crafted a sensuous, slow-motion scene for Frida and her lovers of both sexes. Bathed in white light, she sang topless in a bathtub, wearing the strapped corset mimicking the one the artist painted in 'The Broken Column.' Rodriguez’s music included a languid violin solo."

Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Today
'Tosca' a triumph of singing, visual splendor

"Condemi effectively froze the action in the 'Te Deum' scene, making Scarpia’s monologue vowing to win Tosca all the more menacing. The drama gripped from beginning to end. "

Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Today
David Gockley Farewell Gala - San Francisco Opera

"Deftly directed by Jose Maria Condemi, the entertaining show featured classy projections and a set list of Gockley favorites and tunes reflecting his love of American composers."

Leslie Katz, San Francisco Examiner
Il Trovatore – Cincinnati Opera

“Jose Maria Condemi’s direction focused on the essential ... keeping the actions of the principals fairly stylized, rather like the operatic acting of an earlier era. Living in a world of heightened passion, they expressed themselves accordingly. In contrast, members of the chorus interacted with each other more naturalistically in their various roles as gypsies or soldiers.”

Joe Law, Opera News
Mitigating the Military Mindset

“For the past 15 years, Jose Maria Condemi has been a familiar face at the San Francisco Opera.... One of his strengths lies in helping singers feel secure enough physically that they can engage with their colleagues dramatically (rather than resorting to the old-fashioned ‘park and bark’ singing technique of yore). Condemi was recently named as the new Director of Opera at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where his artistic influence was amply displayed in SFCM’s student production of L’Elisir d’Amore.”

George Heymont, Huffington Post
All-American L'Elisir Charms at S.F. Conservatory

“The transposition to 1950s America, in director Jose Maria Condemi’s staging, was suitably bucolic and buoyant and intrinsically persuasive.... Condemi’s direction was resourceful and inventive. He made full use of the theater, staging various exits and entrances through the Hume Concert Hall and composing some pleasing Grant Wood-like stage pictures.”

Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice
Stirring presentation of MOT’s “Frida” comes to the Berman Center

“Frida is the most delicious presentation by Michigan Opera Theatre this season, and it is because of the supreme recipe of visual stimulants, gorgeous vocals and accessibility.... It’s a recipe for success that won’t be long forgotten by new and veteran opera audiences.”

Sam White, Oakland Press (Michigan)
Fiery 'Frida' offers intensity and immediacy

“Director Jose Maria Condemi stages a quiet yet shattering conclusion: Frida throws streamers (her blood) at a canvas.”

Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press
MOT’s ‘Frida’ emotional and dynamic

“The work’s emotional and dramatic intensity keeps this production airborne. There’s an episodic, cinematic quality to the action, which director Jose Maria Condemi paces at a brisk clip.”

George Bulanda, Detroit News
Performances propel 'Tosca' to near-perfection

“Stage director Jose Maria Condemi seamlessly builds the dramatic tension, from the opera’s mostly high-spirited opening through singer Floria Tosca’s efforts to save her lover, the painter Mario Cavaradossi, from his execution ordered by the vicious police chief, Baron Scarpia, in Rome in 1800. Some of that tension comes out of Condemi’s understanding of the directions Puccini wrote into the music itself, as well as his attention to details and characterization.”

Maggie Larrick, Queen Anne & Magnolia News
A barn-burning 'Tosca' at Seattle Opera

“All this action played out against the beautiful painterly sets from Italy’s Ercole Sormani, with detailed and realistic stage direction by Jose Maria Condemi.... Condemi’s staging and John Keene’s chorus combined for maximum impact in the ‘Te Deum’ scene at the end of Act I, and the audience buzz at the first intermission was positively electric.”

Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times
Full-throttle 'Tosca' at San Francisco Opera

“This opera is a model of concision, but every production doesn’t flow as neatly as this one. Directed by Jose Maria Condemi, it feels like life: Flirtations, spats and off-hand threats are naturalistically rendered by the talented cast of actors.”

Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News
Petite soprano stands tall in S.F. Opera's 'Tosca'

“Stage director Jose Maria Condemi, also at the helm in 2008 and 2012 at S.F. Opera, has added minor new touches to the proceedings (which unfold on Thierry Bosquet’s slightly fading sets), but wisely refrained from changing the staging for the sake of doing something different – to good effect.”

Janos Gereben, San Francisco Examiner
Soprano's magnificent 'Tosca' debut

“Director Jose Maria Condemi, working on the familiar Thierry Bosquet production that mimics the one seen at the 1931 opening of the Opera House, fitted the action with a wealth of telling theatrical detail.”

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Opera maximizes the melodrama in Puccini's opera about a singer

“This season’s revival has been supervised by Jose Maria Condemi for the third time.... Condemi worked with two familiar faces from his last revival in 2012, the two male leads of the opera: Brian Jagde singing Mario Cavaradossi and Mark Delavan singing Baron Scarpia.... Under Condemi’s direction Scarpia so dominates that one appreciates just how helpless both Tosca and Cavaradossi are as his pawns. Tosca may kill him; but, even from beyond the grave, he still has the last word.... The result was an interpretation of Tosca that, while it could not shed the superficiality of its melodrama, could connect with the audience through Puccini’s vocal writing at its most compelling.”

Stephen Smoliar, San Francisco Classical Music Examiner
Enjoying Verdi at the San Francisco Opera from another point of view

“So much was going on under the baton of Music Director Nicola Luisotti that I had to keep reminding myself not to neglect looking up at the stage to Jose Maria Condemi’s excellent dramatic interpretation of this opera.”

Stephen Smoliar, San Francisco Classical Music Examiner
Verdi: Un ballo in maschera

“Jose Maria Condemi’s direction was efficient – in particular, I appreciated the numerous tableaux-like scenes ending Act I and Act III, choreographed with great beauty and grace.”

Marina Romani, MusicalCriticism.com
Julianna Di Giacomo elevates 'Masked Ball'

“All of its elements came together handsomely -- an intelligent production directed by Jose Maria Condemi, a sumptuous orchestral performance conducted by music director Nicola Luisotti, and first-rate performances throughout the cast.”

Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News
Saint Louis: A Hit is a Hit is a Hit

“Director Jose Maria Condemi did yeoman’s work in crafting fluid and spontaneous stage pictures, and inventing appropriate ‘period’ business. During the overture, Mr. Condemi, had Adina enter dreamily, then had Nemorino discover her, get an idea and go off stage only to return to bring her an ice cream cone. And then, just as he is about to pass it to her, starry-eyed, the ice cream scoop falls to the ground leaving him holding an empty cone. She giggles. He despairs. What a perfect way to establish the relationship and the premise. The director found countless ways to use the unit set, the steps, the moving vehicles, to create variety and meaningful movement. There was no end to the creative comic touches and everything was kept merrily bubbling along.”

James Sohre, Opera Today
Gertrude Stein in St. Louis

“Jose Maria Condemi directed with a gratifyingly light touch, playing for pathos as well as comedy.”

Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal
Elixir of Love: Fun and endearing comedy remains winning formula for Opera Theatre St. Louis

“Under Jose Maria Condemi’s splendid direction, Nemorino, here fashioned as an ice-cream vendor, pines for Adina, a queen-bee landowner who makes sport of his infatuation, agreeing to wed the swaggering Sergeant Belcore to further torment the fawning Nemorino.”

Malcolm Gay, Riverfront Times
St. Louis Opera fest serves potent brew as an opener

“This ‘Elixir’ is a potent brew, brightly sung, inventively staged by James Robinson and urgently conducted by music director Stephen Lord. The pitside St. Louis Symphony matches the energy level on stage. Revival director Jose Maria Condemi takes efficient charge of the staging.... Fully engaged in the comedy, the audience laughs at all the right times, thanks to the clear vocal delivery of the attractive ensemble members. How refreshing to experience an operatic comedy in which the punchlines and the surtitles are actually in synch, and where the jokes actually enhance the musical values, instead of getting in their way.”

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
'Elixir of Love' is a grand night of singing and humor

“Jose Maria Condemi has fluidly staged it, abetted by the quaint town square designed by Allen Moyer.”

Lynn Venhaus, Belleville News-Democrat
'Elixir of Love' delivers a happy potion at Opera Theatre

“In his OTSL debut, stage director Jose Maria Condemi gave James Robinson’s original production plenty of amusing moments and a few anachronistic ones, assisted by choreographer Sean Curran.”

Sarah Bryan Miller, Saint Louis Post-Dispatch
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