Ian Burton was born in Yorkshire and holds degrees from the Universities of Leeds and Bristol. He has worked in a variety of genres as both a dramatist and a writer. His opera librettos include Giorgio Battistelli’s Richard III (Vlaamse Opera, Antwerp, 2005), CO2 (La Scala, Milan, 2015), The Tragedie of Julius Caesar for the Rome Opera (to be premiered in November 2021) and Teorema after Pasolini; Torsten Rasch’s The Duchess of Malfi for the experimental theatre company Punchdrunk (English National Opera, London, 2010); Michael Torke’s rock opera Pop’pea, an adaptation of L’incoronazione di Poppea (Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, 2012); Philippe Fénelon’s JJR (Grand Théâtre de Genève, 2012) and Alexander Raskatov’s Animal Farm for the Dutch National Opera (to be premiered in 2022/23). His stage plays include Entering the Whirlpool (1981), Deranging Angels (1993), Mask (1995), Between Two Worlds, a theatrical biography of Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1996), Chikamatsu, a play on the life of the ‘Japanese Shakespeare’ (1997), Men’s Doubles (1998) and plays about Francis Poulenc (The Foot of the Cross, or The Muzzle of a Gun, 2001) and W. H. Auden, Benjamin Britten and Gypsy Rose Lee (7 Middagh Street, 2012).
He has also written ballet scenarios, notably Cinderella for Northern Ballet Theatre, and texts for musical setting by the Dutch composer Eduard de Boer, most memorably The Wedding of the Moon and Sun. He has additionally published eight volumes of poetry, most recently Dorset Street and Rouflaquettes.
As an opera dramaturg, Ian Burton has worked with Robert Carsen since 1987. Recent productions include Candide at the Théâtre du Châtelet, La Scala and the English National Opera; L’incoronazione di Poppea and Rinaldo at Glyndebourne; Mitridate at La Monnaie in Brussels; Iphigénie en Tauride and Orfeo ed Euridice at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Tannhäuser in Tokyo and at the Paris Opéra; La traviata at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice; My Fair Lady at the Théâtre du Châtelet; Wozzeck and Platée at the Theater an der Wien; The Beggar’s Opera in Burton’s own modernized version at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris and the Grand Théâtre de Genève; the world premiere of Detlev Glanert’s Oceane at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin; Arabella at the Zurich Opera and Janáček’s Osud in Brno.
Ian Burton is also a director. In 1994 the Province of Antwerp awarded him the prize for best production for his triptych of works by Peter Maxwell Davies. He has also staged productions for the Belgian music theatre company Transparant and directed the musical Frank’s Closet in London, which was named Critics’ Choice by Time Out magazine in 2009.