Joe Austin

Theatre and Opera Director

Salome 2015

Ian Lace, Seen and Heard International
A truly memorable performance, deserving of the very enthusiastic response from a gratifyingly large audience. 

John Allison, Telegraph ****

Richard Morrison, The Times ****

Alexandra Coghlan, Independent *****

Arts Desk ****



La Calisto 2014

Margaret Davies, Opera Magazine
The staging by Joe Austin was inventive and pacy and focused on emotional highs and lows. The director did not shirk from the opera's darker side in showing the cruel transformation of Calisto into a performing bear. 

Alexandra Coghlan, Arts Desk * * * *
Slashing the original score down to a brisk two hours, Joe Austin’s elegant production transplants the action to a post-apocalyptic landscape. 

David Karlin, Seen and Heard * * * * *
I can’t imagine being more entertained by an evening’s chamber opera. The music was airy and appealing, singing ranged from good to excellent, acting uniformly excellent, the story had pace and a sense of good humour prevailed over the whole thing. Who’s to ask for more?

Adrian Horsewood, Early Music Today
Austin’s visual work is no less satisfying. There are many delightful little touches throughout, but it was the clear and detailed direction of the central characters that pleased most: this is a very well-acted production, at exactly the right level of expressiveness and vigour for the intimate space. An excellent and immensely satisfying production

Francesca Wickers * * * * *
With polished music, a haunting set, an exquisite libretto and tender acting, the production is an example of storytelling at its most clear and compelling.


Siegfried 2013

Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph * * * * *
A brave and exciting production of one of Wagner's most intimidating operas. I am breathless with admiration for Opera North, punching above its weight in producing a concert performance which any musical organisation in the world would be proud of.

Tim Ashley, Guardian * * * *
Opera North's so-called "austerity Ring" continues to astonish, nowhere more so, perhaps, than with Siegfried, sometimes dubbed the cycle's scherzo, and the ­opera in which interpretative and ­directorial inspiration has a habit of faltering.

 Geoffrey Mogridge, Opera Brittanica * * * * *
Associate director Joe Austin tends to keep the protagonists at arms’ length from each other, more like a conventional concert hall performance. There is no physical contact between the characters, but the balance is exactly right; this is theatre of the imagination, the ideal way in which to experience the Ring cycle - freed from the encumbrances and paraphernalia of a fully staged production.

Michael Tanner, Spectator
The semi-concert production of Siegfried which Opera North is touring at present… provides a more enjoyable and moving evening than I had dared to hope for, even taking into account the superb two previous accounts of the Ring dramas that it has produced in the past two years.

I almost dread the thought of next year’s Götterdämmerung, if it maintains this standard.

Andrew Clark, Financial Times * * * *
Opera North’s audiences can count themselves lucky.

Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk * * * * *

Geoff Brown, The Times * * * *

 Photo by Claire Shovelton

Photo by Claire Shovelton

Vivienne 2013

Kieron Quirke, Evening Standard * * * * * 
"This was very good indeed - Stephen McNeff's Vivienne , a 40-minute pieace which gives yet more limelight to TS Eliot's ill-fated first wife, Vivienne Haigh- Wood... All is delivered by catty, horny McCaldin, all with a sheen of balmy. It's a far better performance than we're entitled to from someone who can also sing" 

Kate Mason, One Stop Arts * * * * 
"Performed fantastically, perfectly channeling Vivienne's fragile mental state... It's rare that a one-woman show can be so clever and funny without dragging towards the end - but Vivienne  kept up its pace."

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
"...a remarkable performance... you forget that this was sung at all and the work became simply drama of the most involving kind" 


The Cunning Little Vixen 2011

Martin Dreyer, Opera Magazine
"Janáček's vulpine adventures perfectly mirrored the delights of Ryedale in a canny new production by Joe Austin... A poignant and rewarding show. "

David Denton, Yorkshire Post * * * * 
"Of the many productions  [of Vixen] I have seen, Ryedale Festival Opera's budget performance is among the most enjoyable... Joe Austin's imaginative and delightful production."


Albert Herring 2011

Oliver Tims, Opera Magazine
"Joe Austin's production was ingenious. This was a well-judged production"  

The Prodigal Son/The Homecoming 2010

Anna Picard, Independent on Sunday * * * * 
"Director Joe Austin drew a finely detailed performance of Britten's morality tale" 

David Denton, Yorkshire Post * * * * 
"Joe Austin's ingenious "in the round" staging... an operatic production of the highest quality" 


Háry János 2009

Yorkshire Post * * * * 
"With a cast of just eight, who change costumes at a speed and frequency that seems to treble their number, this is a fast-moving production from Joe Austin, excellently engineered scene changes performed by the cast. It was not just a team of first-class singers, but one whose sheer vivacity and visual enjoyment they communicated to the audience. "

 © Joe Austin 2016