opera & theater


Emma Griffin is a director
working in opera, theater, and education.


Emma Griffin is a theater and opera director; she is also the Managing Artistic Director of The Mannes Opera, a program at the College of Performing Arts at The New School.

Griffin has a diverse background in theater, musical theater and opera. Her productions have been seen in performance venues all over the country. She is a frequent collaborator on new music/theater pieces; projects include Phil Kline’s Out Cold & Zippo Songs at BAM’s Next Wave Festival, Corey Dargel’s Removable Parts (winner of “Outstanding Performance Art Production” at NY Innovative Theater Awards) and Susan Bernfield and Rachel Peters’ Stretch, a fantasia. Opera highlights include La Fanciulla del West at Opera Colorado, the world premiere of Charpentier's La Feste de Ruel with Catacoustic Consort; La Boheme at Crested Butte Music Festival, Three Decembers at Atlanta Opera; Don Giovanni at Boston Lyric Opera; The Cunning Little Vixen and Don Giovanni at Juilliard Opera; Wozzeck at Opera Philadelphia/Curtis Opera Theater. She was the Artistic Director of the OBIE-award winning Salt Theater, based in NYC; highlights with Salt include Stage Door (FringeNYC Excellence Award as Best Director), The Cherry Orchard, Scenes from a Marriage and Conquest of the Universe. She has theater credits at many regional theaters including Perseverance Theater, Geva Theater Center, Syracuse Stage, Southern Rep, Actor’s Express, Virginia Stage, and Williamstown Theater Festival.

Her career as an educator is as central to her artistry as her directing career. She spent many years as adjunct faculty at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts (working with students in Undergraduate Drama, Graduate Acting, and Graduate Design). She was on the faculty at SUNY Stonybrook, and she has worked extensively at both The Curtis Institute of Music and at Juilliard. Prior to her appointment to Mannes Opera, she spent four years as the Professor of Opera Stage Direction at the University of Cincinnati’s CCM.

Upcoming work includes a second production of the Ricky Ian Gordon/Frank Bidart operatic poem Ellen West (with Beth Morrison Productions & Prototype, January 2020). She has begun work on The Session, her third collaboration with composer Phil Kline and vocalist Theo Bleckmman (completing a trilogy with Zippo Songs & Old Cold). For her inaugural production at Mannes, Griffin is collaborating with conductor Geoff McDonald on Angelica/Dafne, a hybrid opera/theater/song mash-up comprised of Suor Angelica, La Dafne, and modern folk songs (April 2020).

Emma Griffin knows how to be theatrical...
— Paper Magazine
Ms. Griffin’s staging is deeply resonant…
— The New York Times
Without gimmicks, without resorting to revisionist rewriting, Griffin has staged a Don Giovanni in critical conversation with contemporary discourses of power and privilege. Apparently, you can teach an old Don new tricks.
— Parterre Box
Curtis Opera Theater scored another bull’s-eye. Emma Griffin’s high-energy but never trivial production evoked both the opera’s comic-book origins and the autumnal thoughts engendered in Janáček by his work on it.
— Opera News
…thanks to Emma Griffin’s direction, the pieces come together with pizzazz.

— Variety

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