Mitchell Gillett’s directing career is a natural outgrowth of a very gratifying comprimario career. He has worked with such directors as Bodo Igesz, Bret Wagner, and Eric Gibson, informing his style and helping him to develop a unique approach in his own directing.
For twenty seven years Mitch Gillett has concentrated on bringing light opera to new and existing audiences around Michigan, the US, and the UK. Directing full productions, opera workshops, cabarets, and site-specific events, he has developed techniques to get the most from his surroundings, and challenges his actors to give their characters dignity and a soul, even in the most farcical moments. While an acknowledged expert in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, he is also fully schooled in the subtleties of Mozart, Pergolesi, and others of the early “Opera Buffa” style, and has rarely not surprised a house with how universal these shows can be.
Mitchell Gillett might be unique among today’s directors, as he strives to combine modern stage sensibilities with classic techniques. Using stage tools like Periaktoi, Linnebach projectors, flats, and the occasional footlight, he can pull the audience into a story by concentrating on the singing-actor’s performance, and less on large stage set pieces. As a choice, he has worked with small companies and small budgets, which he has learned to manipulate strategically to create critical successes. It is part of these constraints that can bring out amazing levels of creativity in both the creative team and performers. It has also led to a greater appreciation of contemporary one act operas.
Mitchell fell in love with the theatre at age ten, when his parents were involved in a charity performance of the dramatic cantata Trial by Jury, and later convinced his parents to enroll him in a children’s dramatics program. On a theatre scholarship in college, he studied for four years with Dr. William Sakalauskas, gaining acting experience and a full range of backstage and production training. It was also at this time he began vocal studies, pursuing the classical tenor repertoire.