Robert Tannenbaum is a dynamic stage director, making a reputation both in Europe, where he is one of the few active American directors, and America. He was, from 1992 until 1996, the youngest and only American General Director and C.E.O. of a German state theater, the Stadttheater Giessen, where he presented a year-round program of opera, musicals, plays, dance, and symphony concerts with a staff of more than 200 full-time employees and a yearly operating budget of 15 million dollars. Prior to becoming General Director in Giessen, he served as Director of Opera at the Städtische Bühnen in Münster. At the same time, he was engaged as a guest director for new productions throughout Germany, France, and the U.S.A., including, most notably: Der Traumgörge in Bremen; Cardillac, Don Carlo, and The Mikado in Freiburg; The Rape of Lucretia in Cologne; Turandot in Kassel; La Fanciulla del West in Tulsa; Idomeneo and Die Entführung aus dem Serail for Chicago Opera Theater; L'Italiana in Algeri in Bogota, Colombia; and Aida in Dayton.
Upon completion of his education at Columbia University in New York, Mr. Tannenbaum began a short-term apprenticeship with the San Diego Opera that became a four year association as Resident Stage Director. In that capacity, he directed twenty operas, including Aida, Faust, La Cenerentola, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Gianni Schicchi, and the west coast premieres of Sousa's The Free Lance and Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri. After leaving San Diego, Mr. Tannenbaum joined the directing staff in Wuppertal, Germany, where he staged revivals of Der Ring des Nibelungen, Nabucco, and Lortzing's Der Wildschütz.
In the fall of 1985, he went to Los Angeles to serve as Company Manager to assist the Deutsche Oper Berlin's presentations of Tosca, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Die Tote Stadt. In 1987, he staged his first new production in Europe, von Dittersdorf's Doktor und Apotheker. That same year, he joined the directing staff at the Cologne Opera, where he directed his new production of The Rape of Lucretia. He also returned to San Diego as a guest to direct Rigoletto and, the following year, Fidelio.
In recent seasons he directed La Traviata for the Florentine Opera Company (Milwaukee), New Orleans Opera and Merola Opera, Don Giovanni for the Orlando Opera, Carmen and Tosca for Cincinnati Opera, Die Fledermaus for the Florida Grand Opera and for Yale Opera, Il Trovatore for Edmonton Opera, and Johann Strauss’ Eine Nacht in Venedig for the Landestheater Linz in Austria and the Städtische Bühnen Nürnberg in Germany, Nabucco for L’Opera de Montreal, Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims for the Landestheater Linz and the European premiere of William Bolcom’s A View From the Bridge for Theater Hagen, as well as serving a short term as General Director for the New Orleans Opera Association.
In the fall of 2002, Robert Tannenbaum assumed the position of Director of Opera for the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe where he has directed new productions of Il Trittico, Luisa Miller and two new operas by the English composer Michael Nyman, Facing Goya and Man and Boy: DADA.
Upcoming productions include Il Trittico for Theater Graz in Austria, a new production of Der Rosenkavalier for the Theater Erfurt in Germany and new productions of L’Elisir D’Amore, Eugene Onegin and the world premiere of Michael Nyman’s new opera Love Counts for the theater in Karlsruhe. In addition, Robert’s production of Michael Nyman’s Man and Boy: DADA will be presented by the National Theatre in Prague, Czech Republic in the 2004/2005 season.
As an educator, Mr. Tannenbaum has served on the faculties of the Conservatory of Music in Graz, Austria, Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Düsseldorf Conservatory of Music, San Diego State University, Bowling Green State University, University of Illinois, and with the young artists' programs of the San Francisco Opera Center, Houston Grand Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and the Metropolitan Opera National Council.