Dionysios Kyropoulos

Degrees BMus (City), MPhil (Cantab)
Course DPhil in Music
College New College
Address Holywell Street

Historical acting and gesture in Baroque opera.

Opera is placed between two disciplines, music and theatre studies. However, it is most often approached from a musical perspective and therefore many intrinsically important extra-musical aspects have been left unexplored. There has been some progress made with recent scholarship that tries to connect the music of Baroque opera with its historical stagecraft, but is still too contained for results to be fully visible in opera productions today. 

The music of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century operas embodied a rhetorical ethos and aesthetic that aimed to move the emotions of the listeners. Acting and gesture shared these rhetorical qualities, and commentaries of the time indicate that they had great potency, often surpassing that of the music itself. 

Dionysios’ theoretical and empirical research aims to shed more light on the obscure art of gesture and create a practical working model for a historically-informed acting framework, specifically aimed at singers for the performance of Baroque opera. This framework, although inevitably modern, will share the principal aesthetic qualities and ethos of its historical counterpart, paving the way for future attempts at a practical revival of historical acting and gesture. 


Dionysios read music at City University London whilst receiving performance tuition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Robert Dean. In 2012 he graduated at the top of his class with a first-class BMus (Hons) degree, and was awarded the Worshipful Company of Musicians Prize for his outstanding undergraduate final-year dissertation entitled Rhetoric, Affekt and Gesture in Handelian Opera: Towards a holistic approach to historically informed performance. In November 2012 he was profiled in The Independent as an example of a successful graduate music student in the UK. In 2014 he completed his MPhil in Music at Clare College, University of Cambridge, and has worked as an intern at the Oxford University Press journal Early Music.

He began his study of stagecraft as a drama student in Greece, and in 2011 he started working on a research project that aims to address the discrepancies between the visual and auditory aspects in present-day historically informed representations of Baroque opera. In addition to his academic research, his work as a singer and director includes practical experimentation in historical stagecraft and Baroque gesture. He trained in Baroque gesture with Ian Caddy, Andrew Lawrence-King, Jed Wentz, Steven Player and Victoria Newlyn, and he has given several talks about historical stagecraft at the Handel House Museum. 

In 2012 Dionysios was offered the directorship of City University’s opera ensemble, where he gave undergraduate music students theoretical and practical training in operatic performance, and directed a production that explored Italian opera through the centuries and included scenes from Cavalli’s La Calisto, Handel’s Orlando, Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Puccini’s Suor Angelica. In the summers of 2013, 2014 and 2015 he worked as a tutor of Baroque gesture and stage director for the Baroque Opera Studio at the University of Burgos in Spain, and in September 2015 he worked as historical acting coach and stage director for the International Rameau Summer School in London. He is a founding member of Theatron Novum, a student theatre and opera production company at the University of Oxford whose aim is to breathe new life into old masterpieces and engage new audiences. 

He has directed four operas at Teatro Principal de Burgos in Spain, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (2013), a Purcell double-bill of The Indian Queen and Dido and Aeneas (2014), and Cavalli’s Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne (2015). Other directing work includes TamerlanoPartenope and Rodelinda by Handel, Livetta e Tracollo by Pergolesi for Clare College Music Society in Cambridge, and Molière’s comedy The Doctor in Spite of Himself performed in March 2015 at the Burton Taylor Studio of Oxford Playhouse. In May 2015 he directed Timothy Kraemer’s children’s opera Ulysses and the Wooden Horse, in June 2015 Coward’s comedy Hay Fever, and in October 2015 Purcell’s dramatic opera The Prophetess at the Keble O’Reilly Theatre in Oxford.

Dionysios’ DPhil studies are funded by the Onassis Foundation and the New College 1379 Society Old Members Scholarship. His performance studies are funded by the Hellenic College Trust.

Throughout his studies he has also received scholarships, grants and support from: the Panos4Life Society, the Life Action Trust, the A. G. Leventis Foundation, the South Square Trust, Clare College Cambridge, the Joan Conway Fund, and the Hellenic College Trust.

Dionysios works as a stage director and a teacher of historical acting for opera in the UK and abroad.