Gretl Satorius currently works as a freelance opera dramaturg and university professor in Vienna, Austria. She is the author of numerous works across a variety of media, and is currently completing her doctoral studies at the University of Vienna’s Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies.
Education and Training
Ms. Satorius’ stylistic approach owes much to her dramaturgical training. As one of two students accepted annually to the B.F.A. Dramaturgy and Criticism program of The Theatre School at DePaul University (America’s only undergraduate dramaturgy program), she had the opportunity to study closely with dramaturg and author Dr. Rachel Shteir, celebrated Chicago Tribune critic Chris Jones, and playwright Dean Corrin. Her interest in all aspects of theatrical expression have led her to participate in master classes with Bill Irwin, Edward Albee, and Ntozake Shange, workshops in Meisner actor training, and gymnastics and circus arts training at the Actor’s Gymnasium.
Over the course of her post-graduate studies, Satorius has sought to immerse herself in every facet of operatic production: as research assistant for Univ. Prof. KWPU Dr. Edwin Vanecek, production assistant to Michael Pinkerton (Konservatorium Wien), and production hospitant to Mag. Anja Meyer (Theater an der Wien). Under the guidance of Ass.-Prof. Dr. Isolde Schmid-Reiter, her Master thesis (Iain Bell’s A Harlot’s Progress: A Dramaturgical Analysis of the Journey from Engravings to Opera, 2014) provides documentation and critical reflection on the world premiere production of Iain Bell and Peter Ackroyd’s A Harlot’s Progress at the Theater an der Wien in 2013. She is currently writing her doctoral thesis at the Universität Wien on the “Salomania” phenomenon following the 1905 premiere of Richard Strauss’ Salome.
Academic and Journalistic Writing
For her scholarly work, Ms. Satorius’ recognitions include the California Governor’s Award and Marcus Award for Dramaturgy, as well as numerous publications and productions throughout Europe and North America. Her academic writing has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Religion and the Arts (Brill) and Maske und Kothurn (Böhlau Verlag), and her journalistic impulse has found expression in written publications (Ether Magazine, Vienna: InYourPocket), interviews and reportage in both English (BBC) and German (CultVisual), and museum curation (Gustav Mahler Composing Hut, Steinbach am Attersee).
Gretl Guides: Vienna is a free podcast offering themed audio tours of the Austrian capital. The project combines Satorius’ interest in cultural history and experience in tourism, and is an extension of her iPhone city tour app, Gretl Goes: Vienna (2013): Vienna’s highest-rated audio tour app until updated programming requirements forced its suspension in 2017. The Gretl Guides: Vienna podcast updates and expands her original content, collected over 15 years of life and research in Austria.
Between 2010 and 2014, Ms. Satorius collaborated with Mindful Cloud Entertainment and illustrator Erich Tiefenbach on an ambitious multimedial documentary project chronicling the history of non-violent protest interventions during the Vietnam War. Ultimately released in the form of a 48-page comic book (The Secret of the Five Powers, available in print through Parallax Press and as an interactive eBook through iTunes) and feature-length documentary film (The Five Powers), the works interlaced filmed interviews and archival documents with original comic illustrations and animations inspired by Alfred Hassler’s 1957 publication of Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story.
Ms. Satorius’ original documentary screenplay continues to garner praise at film festivals throughout Europe and the United States. Following its New York premiere in June of 2016, the film was awarded “Best Film” at the People’s Film Festival in Harlem, and Dave Gibbons (renowned co-creator of The Watchmen) described the film as a “moving fusion of documentary footage, historic montage and vivid animation that sends a powerful message of peace. Using modern technology and dramatic storytelling, the film focuses on three true heroes and their efforts to promote the non-violent resolution of conflict through a mindful, compassionate approach. It’s beautifully crafted and truly inspiring.”
Works for the Stage
Since 2004, several of her original plays and one-acts have enjoyed workshops, readings, and performances across a broad range of venues and festivals, including The Wrights of Spring and the 24-Hour Theatre Festival in Chicago. In 2008, her commissioned adaptation of an Austrian folktale, Hondidldo and the Apple Thief, was premiered by Talespin in Vienna, and has since been published as a children’s book (Delos) and interactive audiobook app (available on iTunes).
August of 2015 saw Satorius’ premiere in London’s West End: her original script provided the narrative structure for Impossible, a unique magic show that presents world-class illusions within the fascinating context of magic history. Described by The Stage as “variety, illusion and magic as given a brilliant, fresh spin,” Impossible then toured Europe and the UK throughout 2016 before returning to the West End in July and August for a second run at the Noël Coward Theatre. Its 2016 remount was hailed as “truly a show of its time…a show which brings out the wide-eyed child in all of us” (London Theatre).
Art Song and Operatic Adaptations
In June of 2011, Satorius was invited to collaborate with fellow writers, poets, and musicians at the Vancouver International Song Institute and Canadian Music Centre’s Art Song Lab. Her experience there sparked a passion for the interaction of text and music, and Ms. Satorius’ first song cycle, In Absentia, was set by composer Andrew Paul Jackson in November of that year.
In late 2014, Satorius was commissioned to write an adaptation and new translation of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, performed in January of 2015 at the Houston Symphony’s Jones Hall under the direction of Lloyd Wood and the baton of Andrés Orozco-Estrada. Described as “full of fun and satire,” Satorius’ text was acclaimed for “mov[ing] forward the emotional and dramatic line of the opera at a lively and engaging pace” (Kingwood Observer). Opera News praised the “surprisingly dramatic” adaptation as a “lively and unpredictable improvement” on standard concertante delivery by “blur[ring] the line between staged and unstaged opera.”
Ms. Satorius’ collaborations with British Director Lloyd Wood have manifested as several recent operatic productions.
2015 began with a celebrated new staging of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the English Touring Opera. The five-star production garnered wide praise as “a fine achievement…the best UK staging of Don Giovanni for some time” (The Guardian), “unmissable…gets practically everything right” (WhatsOnStage), and the “best production in London – or Glyndebourne – for more than 20 years” (Hugh Canning). The production was nominated as “Best Opera” in the 2016 Manchester Theatre Awards, and its director, Lloyd Wood, as “Best Newcomer” in the 2017 International Opera Awards. It was named “Best New Production” in the 2017 WhatsOnStage Opera Poll.
Since 2016 the team has collaborated with Glyndebourne on the creation of the Behind the Curtain series: an innovative, irreverent, multimedial exploration of the history of opera through the lens of individual works. After launching the initiative with a successful run and tour of Behind the Curtain: Don Giovanni, the team was joined by presenter Chris Addison for Behind the Curtain: La Traviata in 2018. Behind the Curtain: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic in autumn of 2020, as were planned engagements with the Bergen International Festival and Edinburgh Festival for an original production of Strauss’ Salome.