The Magic Flute

Nominated: Best Opera, Irish Times

“Nicky Shaw’s minimalist, uncluttered set design intelligently facilitated the busy interchange of characters”

“The evening was, however, ultimately director Annilese Miskimmon’s triumph. To call her Magic Flute a feminist interpretation is tempting, but misleadingly reductive: she’s simply had the courage to unravel the assumptions about male domination and superiority which are fundamental to Emanuel Schikaneder’s libretto, and subject them to intelligent twenty first century investigation. Her Act Two in particular is a locus classicus of acuity and clarity, the most probing and revelatory I’ve seen in thirty years attending productions of the opera.”

“if you’re under the impression that Mozart’s personality was impish and impudent, then what would have won you over was the delightful, mischievous balancing act performed by director Annilese Miskimmon between comic and serious. Happily, her balance favoured the comic – many Magic Flutes have the life abruptly drained out of them by a stodgy reverence for Mozart’s Freemason-alluding temple brotherhood. Miskimmon channels Mozart and pokes fun at the order and at pomp in general”

“Under Miskimmon’s pacey direction, the design team wittily lights and sets the story in roughly 1912 – we see suffragettes, Monostatos is a London bobby. In all it precisely fulfils OTC chairperson Virginia Kerr’s wish that “an evening at the opera take us out of ourselves and lift our spirits.”

“It’s an interesting question how much Mozart bought into the misogyny that peppers the libretto of his great panto-opera … It’s left to Annilese Miskimmon, artistic director of what is now Ireland’s major company, Opera Theatre Company, to take it on. And she does it very entertainingly in this touring production, with nothing spurious and no hint of hectoring, by spinning the characters and action in a way that actually makes you think new things, a rare and welcome feeling in the opera house. Miskimmon manages to make the show funny and charming while retaining ats bite and a proper sense of mystery, a balance one longs for in the Flute but rarely finds. It’s energetically performed in Nicky Shaw’s clever trapdoors-and-ladders design, with smart visual larks on top of the slapstick and character-comedy … this Flute plays some sweetly profound tunes.”

“director Annilese Miskimmon … has gone for a feminist take on the story, including the Queen of the Night’s female contingent showing up at the end as a bunch of suffragettes and the priests of Isis and Osiris looking like censorious clergymen. But everything is handled with a light touch so it is all very entertaining, full of atmosphere, and funny without descending into slapstick”

“marvellously inventive … the imaginative sets and costumes contributed to the production’s zaniness”



Nominated: Best Opera, The South Bank Sky Awards

“the festival struck gold with Ambroise Thomas’s Mignon”
“Buxton’s staging is a winner in the delicate hands of the director Annilese Miskimmon and the designer Nicky Shaw, who recently devised an enchanting L’amico Fritz for Opera Holland Park. Here, too, they maintain a fine balance between comedy, sentiment and pathos, preceding the action with the abduction of Mignon as a child and recounting the psychological journey she makes as an adult, from the abused “captive” of a ruthless traveling theatre manager to reunion with her long-lost father, Lothario, and the arms of her beloved, the elusive Wilhelm.”
“Buxton’s programme makes much of the supposed absurdity of the plot, but Miskimmon made sense of it in Shaw’s resourceful sets and colourful 1920s costumes.”

“This English-language production, using the creaky sung recitatives the composer wrote for the first London performances rather than the spoken dialogues of the Paris original, made no attempt to sex up the action. Instead of being embarrassed by Mignon’s period conventions, the up-and-coming director Annilese MIskimmon made a virtue of them, preserving the innocence of the story and sprinkling it with fairy-dust: Nicky Shaw’s cutaway sets, lit by John Bishop, created maximum atmosphere with minimal resources. We smelt the train station at the end of Act one just as we felt the fire at the close of Act Two, which was dominated by a fabulous trompe l’oeil lakeside reflection.”

“directed by Annilese Miskimmon, the Buxton festival’s new production leaves you wondering why the opera has been neglected for so long. Miskimmon, relocating it to the brittle world of the 1920s, carefully probes the delicate balance between reality and illusion.”
“this is beautifully integrated music theatre that immerses you completely in its world.”

“Buxton’s young production team, director Annilese Miskimmon and designer Nicky Shaw, make the most of the festival’s limited financial resources to put on a good-looking show that is traditional but imaginative.”

“I could admire the sensitivity of Annilese Miskimmon’s light-footed staging, attractively designed by Nicky Shaw, and enjoyed the thoughtful singing of Wendy Dawn Thompson in the title-role and the clean, well-schooled tenor of Ryan MacPherson as her admirer Wilhelm Meister.”


L’amico Fritz

“make haste to Kensington because the moment Stuart Stratford launches the prelude with pristine and piquant articulation from the City of London Sinfonia there’ll be a smile on your face. You’ll be gazing at Nicky Shaw’s retro set regognising, if you are old enough, all the signs of 1950’s chic.”
“Annilese Miskimmon’s delightful staging hits all the right notes and what an ingenious touch to turn the benevolent Fritz into a builder of picture-perfect homes doubtless offered at knock-down prices to the less well-heeled of the local community. The scene change will make you smile too…“

“In the hands of director Annilese Miskimmon and her designer Nicky Shaw, the cautionary tale of the eponymous bachelor landowner who thinks he has escaped Cupid’s dart time-travels into the suburban America of the 1950s, where he becomes the handsome singleton boss and cynosure of the typing pool. Here is an updating that proves effortless, enlivening – and nicely cute.”

“Annilese Miskimmon’s production for Opera Holland Park relocates it to the US and re-imagines it as a 1950s, Rock Hudson and Doris Day-style romcom. Fritz (Eric Margiore) is an eligible New York property tycoon-cum-philanthropist, keen on mod cons and Mondrian, and adored by the swooning women in his typing pool. Anna Leese’s Suzel, meanwhile, manages the show house on one of his estates, where David (David Stephenson) prowls round the garden, carefully engineering meetings between them. It all has bags of charm without ever descending to archness, and it’s quite wonderfully sung”

“An Italian rarity is sung with charm, looks a treat, and is conducted as if it were the greatest score ever written.”
“Annilese Miskimmon’s pastel-perfect 1950s production lends wit and fibre to this slender, tender romance. Nicky Shaw’s crisp designs place us in the idealised America of a Norman Rockwell illustration.”

“In Annilese Miskimmon’s smart and gently understated production, Mascagni’s bucolic opera emerges as a real charmer.”
“Miskimmon and her designer, Nicky Shaw, move the action from 19th-century rural Alsace to 1950s small-town America, where Fritz Kobus is a property developer – “Building the perfect home, for your perfect wife”, according to his advertising hoarding.”
“This is vintage Opera Holland Park”

“Annilese Miskimmon’s updating to 1950s America (great sets by Nicky Shaw)”
“The outer acts take place in an office straight out of Mad Men, with the Pollyannaish second act set on the great American Plains, a white box show house surrounded by a fence you can imagine Tom Sawyer painting. The switch between the two is ingeniously done … (a) delightful evening”

“The reason Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz is so rarely heard is not the music, which is gorgeous, but the non-existent plot, in which a wealthy landowner falls in love with a beautiful young girl, facing no conflict or opposition on the way. It could hardly be better done, though, in Annilese Miskimmon’s delightful Mad Men-style production set in a 1950s office.”


The Diary of Anne Frank

Nominated: Best Opera, Irish Times

“Frid isn’t afraid of tunes or jazz: this is no serialist nightmare. What he accomplishes in the 21 scenes he chose for his libretto (with the help of Nicky Shaw’s designs of elegant simplicity and sensitive, understated direction by Miskimmon and Ingrid Craigie) is to transform into music the distance between a sort of outward normality – life continues – and the jangly horror of the menace that constantly threatens: there are moments where this comes close to being a parable of human existence, not simply the horrific ordeal of one teenage girl”

“Co-directed by Annilese Miskimmon and Ingrid Craigie, ‘Anne Frank’ comes in Nicky Shaw’s ingenious design and Tina MacHugh’s effective lighting. Opening like pages in a book, a silver screen transforms to hall, window and office while trapdoors camouflage commodious hidey-holes”

“design-wise this was a triumph of set (Nicky Shaw) and lighting (Tina MacHugh) combining to deliver a truly imaginative response to the work. Confinement and concealment seemed to be the dominating motifs. A giant diary sounds like a terrible old cliché until you see this one”

“Nicky Shaw’s set transforms grey geometry into ingenious self-reference, while the sure hand of co-directors Annilese Miskimmon and Ingrid Craigie exerts itself on every last detail”
“A premiere for Ireland…..this exquisite piece of music theatre raises the bar for Irish touring opera”

“Grigory Frid’s work was staged with stark simplicity that veered between wrenching intensity and heart-warming tenderness”



“a splendidly compact stage set which, at first, seemed like a big box until, eventually, it opened up to full-stage width – revealing a striking use of colour and lighting”

“Nicky Shaw’s designs – a unit set that could be broken up and re-shaped, with good looking Edwardian costumes – were quietly effective”

“a very well sung Alcina in a blissfully simple and searingly emotional staging by the artistic director of the company, Annilese Miskimmon.”
“I have rarely been as moved as I was by this glorious masterpiece.”

“Annilese Miskimmon’s observant, chamber version … admitted the sadness at the opera’s heart and brought a woman’s sensibility to something usually presented from Ruggiero’s point of view.”
“The setting was Edwardian – all those buttons yearning to be popped open; the set a simple unfolding cube that was Alcina’s funeral cypress-girt island outside and her red-lit sanctum within.”



“To establish and maintain such appalling neurotic tension, balance it with the sweetness of the score, allow lullabies, laments and love duets to unfold luxuriously, suggest a syphilitic subtext to King René’s guilt, and introduce and explore the characters of Iolanta’s swaggering betrothed, Robert (Mark Stone), and the stranger who liberates her, Vaudemont (Peter Auty), is an extraordinary achievement for Miskimmon, designer Nicky Shaw, conductor Stuart Stratford, the City of London Sinfonia, and the cast.”

“A rarely staged masterpiece full of dazzling melodies, presented in an intelligent production with superb singing and playing … it’s yet another hit for Holland Park.”
“By setting the story in the 1890s, director Annilese Miskimmon and designer Nicky Shaw create a claustrophobic, Freudian atmosphere which makes perfect sense of the themes and yet allows us to ponder their troubling ramifications for ourselves.”

“A previous production “left one thinking that a concert presentation might be all it needs, but at Holland Park Annilese Miskimmon and her brilliant designer Nicky Shaw suggested otherwise”
“Shaw’s semi-abstract set evoked an out-of-joint fantasy world on the edge of a forest. The characters wore costumes the young Sigmund Freud would have recognised and Miskimmon depicted them as distraught romantic individuals caught in the maelstrom of social change around the turn of the century”
“it was Miskimmon’s subtle and beautiful staging, as much as the excellent musical performance, that remains in the memory: a vindication of the stageworthiness of Tchaikovsky’s late opera”

“Nicky Shaw‘s garden setting looked luscious, and the staging was simple and ultimately very moving”
“Holland Park’s excellent Iolanta”

“It has actually taken OHP’s inspired production of Tchaikovsky’s last opera Iolanta to convince me that it is a near-masterpiece, because no recording or performance I have heard or seen before has approached this level of conviction and intensity, with acting and singing to match, while Stuart Stratford’s conducting is magnificent.”

“Nicky Shaw’s designs conjure an enclosed garden in the forest where Iolanta is kept hidden from the world and Annilese Miskimmon’s staging charts every point in the unfolding story with unerring skill. The production reveals the opera as a neglected masterpiece.”


The Coronation of Poppea

Nominated: Best Opera, Irish Times

“In Nicky Shaw’s simple but handsome set and characterful costumes, this Poppea is a distinguished addition to OTC’s repertoire”

“this was an unrelenting and gripping piece of theatre that will lodge somewhat uncomfortably, perhaps, in the the mind”
“An excellent stage setting and lighting provided great scope for the players”

“Miskimmon fleshes out her vision of the fate of what her introductory note calls “the terrible twosome” with finely-controlled detail and genuine theatrical flair.
Nicky Shaw’s designs, abstract set and a mixture of modern and not-so-modern costumes with lots of déshabillé, all resourcefully lit by Simon Corder, match her every step of the way.”

“The cool blue set design is a triumph and the accompanying Irish Baroque Orchestra provide soulful and meaningful interpretations. But the greatest contribution of the evening is by director Annilese Miskimmon.
The lone cigarette and electrical appliances do not seem like superfluous contemporary touches in this vision.
Also, and most impressively, the director defines each motive and mood with a rare clarity and panache, allowing the beauty of line and harmony to fill the auditorium.”


Dancing Shadows

Winner: 5 Korean Musical Awards, including Best Musical

“The musical, directed by Paul Garrington and written by Ariel Dorfmann, immediately caught the audience’s attention with impressive stage sets, world-class musical scores and flamboyant choreography.”


Don Giovanni

“Mid Wales Opera’s touring production – low on budget, high on production values – takes Mozart’s Don Giovanni into Mafia country, and makes it work”


La Rencontre Imprévue

“Nicky Shaw’s cleverly spatial sets”



“set in a simple, bare box designed by Nicky Shaw”

“elegantly abstracted designs by Nicky Shaw this was an altogether stylish undertaking”


La Cenerentola

“There was striking use of rich colours in the splendid, meticulously detailed costumes from Nicky Shaw”