Stephen Barlow was born in Melbourne, Australia. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School and studied Music and Drama at the University of Melbourne before moving permanently to London. As his father is English Stephen has dual nationality. He made his directing debut staging Trial By Jury in the Bow Street Magistrates Court for the Covent Garden Festival.
Subsequently, his productions have included:
Rigoletto (Chicago Lyric Opera), Tosca (Santa Fe), Carmen (Opera Theatre Saint Louis),
La Traviata (Singapore Lyric Opera), Dovetales - a collection of Jonathan Dove operas (Glyndebourne Jerwood Studio), Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, La Fancuilla del West, La Bohème and Hänsel und Gretel (Opera Holland Park),
the London premiere of Schubert’s Alfonso und Estrella (UCOpera),the European premiere of Tobias Picker's childrens' opera Fantastic Mr Fox (London), La Bohème (British Youth Opera), Idomeneo with Peter Sellars (Glyndebourne Touring Opera), Dialogues des Carmélites,
La Navarraise, Le Portrait de Manon, Comedy on the Bridge, L'enfant Prodigue, Francesca di Foix and Le donne curiose (Guildhall School of Music and Drama), The Magic Flute (Royal Acadamy of Music), Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (Chelsea Theatre) and
an unanimously acclaimed production of Tosca for Opera Holland Park. This production was revived at the Richmond Theatre, London and was described by The Guardian as "the most brilliantly original production of Tosca to be seen in this country for decades"
Stephen has also directed Madam Butterfly for Mid Wales Opera and the opening production of the 60th anniversary season of Wexford Festival Opera - La Cour de Célimène by Ambroise Thomas which was nominated for Best Opera Production of 2011 in the annual Irish Times Theatre Awards.
In 2014 Stephen directed a major new staging of Rigoletto for the Bucharest National Opera, the first new production of this piece for the company in 60 years, and the following year was invited back to Bucharest to stage an all new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's
Phantom of the Opera for the Bucharest National Opereta company in a purpose built new theatre. Stephen also directed the London professional premiere of Jonathan Dove's Flight for Opera Holland Park, which was nominated for the What's On Stage Opera Event of 2015 Award and which was reimagined for Scottish Opera where it played in both Glasgow and Edinburgh in 2018.
More recently Stephen has staged new productions of Madama Butterfly for the Danish National Opera (Den Jykse Opera) marking Stephen's Scandinavian debut, Così fan tutte for Colorado's legendary Central City Opera and Suor Angelica & Giannia Schicchi for the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. Stephen was delighted to make his long awaited debut in his homeland, Australia, in 2017 with a unique production of Les Deux Enfants (a melange of Debussy's L'enfant prodigue with Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges) for the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane, Australia's leading opera training academy.
In 2018 Stephen made his debut with the newly formed Grange Festival in Hampshire staging a new production of The Barber of Seville and directed the Norwegian premiere production of Andrew Lloyd's Webber's The Phantom of the Opera in a new staging at the old Oslo Opera House, Folketeateret which then was taken to Athens and Thessaloniki for the Greek premiere production. In 2019 Stephen returned to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and also made his debut at the Estonian National Opera, with a new staging of Roméo et Juliette.
In 2020 five of Stephen's productions either closed early, were cancelled or rescheduled due to the covid-19 pandemic. in 2021 Stephen makes return engagements to the Grange Festival, Opera Holland Park and the Royal Academy of Music to stage new productions and in 2022 to Santa Fe Opera, where he previously directed in 2012, to stage a new production of The Barber of Seville.
As Revival Director his stagings have included Madama Butterfly, Tosca and Roméo et Juliette (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden), Otello (Glyndebourne Festival Opera and San Francisco Opera) and La Rondine (Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Opéra Monte Carlo, San Francisco Opera and the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse).
Stephen began his directing apprenticeship at both Glyndebourne and Covent Garden where he worked as an assistant/associate director on over twenty productions including the world premiere of Lorin Mazel’s 1984 directed by Robert Lepage. He also worked as assistant director on Cavalleria Rusticana & I Pagliacci for Raymond Gubbay at the Royal Albert Hall and on two Olivier award winning productions at the Royal National Theatre Singin' in the Rain and Anything Goes, assisting Trevor Nunn. He was also the Resident Director on the UK touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group. Stephen worked closely with Jonathan Kent on new productions of Tosca (Covent Garden), The Turn of the Screw (Glyndebourne), Elektra (Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg) and was his Associate Director on the new West End musical Marguerite at the Haymarket Theatre.