Studied stage directing and stagecraft at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien. Since 1990 he has been an independent scriptwriter and director, staging films, theatre productions and operas. Works from key stages in his career include pieces at the Zurich Opera, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Wiener Volksoper, the Stadttheater in Klagenfurt and opera houses in Graz, Cologne, Wiesbaden, Wuppertal, Gelsenkirchen and Innsbruck. Has participated in festivals in Vienna, the Ruhr, Toronto, Sydney, Bregenz and Salzburg.
Michael Sturminger has always paid particular attention to the music of Mozart. He staged the composer’s operas Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Così fan tutte and Il sogno di Scipione in 2006 at the Salzburg Festival. In 2007 at the opera house in Graz he staged La clemenza di Tito, and in 2009 together with Valery Gergiev he staged a production of the opera Idomeneo, re di Creta at the Mariinsky Theatre, returning there in 2011 for a production of Ariadne auf Naxos.
In 2006 the stage director’s enthusiasm for Mozart inspired him to create the original opera I Hate Mozart at the Theater an der Wien. Sturminger himself wrote the libretto, while the music was composed by one of the most famous contemporary composers – Bernhard Lang. In May 2010 in Augsburg in Germany there was a new production of this opera.
Yet another field of his work is linked with contemporary musical theatre. Sturminger’s most recent productions include works by Ligeti, Zimmermann and Penderecki as well as premieres of the operas Gormenghast by Irmin Schmidt, Jedem das Seine by Peter Turrini and Der Herr Nordwind (libretto by Hans Hartmann and music by Heinz Karl Gruber). Together with Gruber, Sturminger is currently working on a new opera production of Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald, the premiere of which will take place in 2013 in Bregenz.
Since 2008 Sturminger has worked with the famed organist and conductor Martin Haselböck on combining classical music and contemporary drama in experimental ways. The world premiere of The Infernal Comedy for orchestra, two sopranos and dramatic actor was held in Los Angeles. The Director and performer of the lead role in the production was John Malkovich. The production was also staged at the Ronacher Theater in Vienna and at the music festival in Castell de Peralada in Spain. In 2010 there were performances in Luxemburg, Brussels, Paris, Istanbul, Hamburg, Athens, Thessalonica, Malaga, Bilbao, Ravello, St Petersburg and Toronto, and tours have been planned for 2011 in North and South America.
As well as operas, Sturminger regularly stages dramas at the Volkstheater in Vienna (Peer Gynt, Job and You’ll Stay with Me) as well as operettas including Die Fledermaus (conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, Zurich, 2008) and Die Csárdásfürstin (Essen, 2010).
Michael Sturminger is also engaged in cinema. In 2004 his film Hurensohn with Russian actress Chulpan Kharmatova in the lead role won several prizes, and in 2008 Arte TV showed his documentary film Malibran Rediscovered with Cecilia Bartoli which was subsequently released on DVD. Arthouse has also released a DVD version of The Infernal Comedy. Recently Malkovich, Haselböck and Sturminger began work on their latest opera project, The Giacomo Variations. This production has been included in the programme for this year’s Stars of the White Nights music festival and will also be performed at various theatres throughout Europe. This season The Infernal Comedy will be performed in London, Prague, Warsaw, San Francisco, Bogotá, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and New York.