Sam Helfrich - Stage Director
Portland Opera Debut Sam Helfrich began his theatre career as a child actor in California, studying at the young conservatory and performing on the main stage at South Coast Repertory, a tony-award winning regional theatre. As an undergraduate at Columbia University, he received a BA in Russian language and literature, and spent six months in Leningrad, USSR, to further his studies. After college he moved to Spain, where he spent three years working and studying. He received a certificate in Spanish language and literature from the University of Barcelona. Upon returning to New York, Mr. Helfrich studied at the 42nd Street Collective (formerly Playwrights Horizons theatre school), where he wrote and directed several plays for productions on theatre row.
Later, he completed his MFA in theatre arts at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, studying with Eduardo Machado, Anne Bogart, Robert Woodruff and others. After finishing his MFA, Mr. Helfrich began to pursue opera stage direction full time. Proficient in both Spanish and French, he began working in Europe immediately, assisting on new productions of several operas in both Barcelona and Geneva, while directing his own productions at home in New York. His first opera project was a double bill of Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night (Argento) and La Voix Humaine (Poulenc) at Hofstra University. Soon after, he produced and directed a fully staged production of Die Walküre (Wagner) at Riverside Church in Manhattan.
In 2002 Mr. Helfrich formed his own theatre company, Captains of Industry, to produce Transparency of Val, by Stephen Belber. Mr. Helfrich’s production of Transparency of Val was widely acclaimed during its limited run in 2002.
Mr. Helfrich continues to direct opera and theatre in New York and regionally. He made his Lincoln Center debut in 2003 with a fully staged production of Rain, a new opera by composer Richard Owen, at Alice Tully Hall. Recent opera productions include The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Opera Boston, Don Giovanni with Boston Baroque Orchestra, West Side Story at Ash-lawn Opera Festival, The Abduction from the Seraglio at Opera Omaha, Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Kentucky Opera, Agrippina with Boston Baroque Orchestra (2005 Boston Globe "Best production of the year"), L'Elisir d'amore at the Berkshire Opera, La Voix Humaine at Glimmerglass Opera, The Turn of the Screw at Pittsburgh Opera, Philip Glass' Orphée at Glimmerglass Opera, Le Comte Ory with Juilliard Opera Center, Semele, a collaboration between Opera Boston and Boston Baroque, Aida at Opera Omaha and others. Recent theatre productions include Eric Overmyer's In a Pig's Valise, and Len Jenkins's Dark Ride, both at Bard College.