Auteur-director and public-speaker Ella Marchment has taken on leadership roles for international arts organisations, and spoken and lectured at world-renowned companies and conservatoires, including Opera Europa in the Netherlands, The Royal Opera House in London, The Juilliard School in New York, and The Royal College of Music in London.
In 2012 Ella founded Helios Collective, a pioneering opera company that commissions and stages new compositions, reimagines works from the canon, and provides opportunities for emerging artists to work alongside pre-eminent opera performers and producers. Ella has also served as the artistic director of Constella OperaBallet and Theatre N16, and she is a co-founder of SWAP’ra and an associate of Artistic Directors of the Future.
With a core belief that opera should be an engaging and accessible art form, Ella’s critically lauded productions appeal to established and new audiences alike, while also providing equitable opportunities to all onstage and offstage creatives involved in performances. In short, Ella believes that opera should be enthralling to watch, thrilling to make, and open to everyone.
Ella’s innovatory projects have included new opera commissions; masterclasses led by internationally renowned directors, composers, conductors, and singers; opera club nights and festivals; a new opera format that combines opera arias with play-based scripts; an operatic short film for Channel 4; interactive animated opera productions; research-driven rescoring and restaging of canonical works; operas programmed alongside theatrical plays; international competitions for new compositions; operas combined with ballet and modern dance; a programme of initiatives designed to help opera companies support women and parents working in opera; and public-speaking engagements on the management and future of opera.
In 2020, in response to the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Ella set up an online community for opera makers worldwide. Called #OperaHarmony, the global network wrote, staged, recorded, and produced twenty new mini-operas. The works were showcased internationally on OperaVision.
#OperaHarmony is a group of opera makers from across the world who, during the Covid-19 crisis of 2020, formed an online community to create new operas.
The initiative was started by opera director Ella Marchment. When the show she was directing at Dutch National Opera was cancelled because of the lockdown, she invited colleagues worldwide to join her in the immense technical and logistical challenge of creating new works online. Ella set the themes of ‘distance’ and ‘community’, organised artist teams, and oversaw the creation of twenty new operas.
All the artists in #OperaHarmony usually created live theatre performances. Through the project, they had to adapt to working in a new medium, as well as embracing new technologies and novel ways of creating, producing, and sharing work.
#OperaHarmony’s goal was to bring people together in ways that were unimaginable prior to Covid-19. Over 100 artists from all the opera disciplines collaborated to write, stage, record, and produce the new operas. The pieces encapsulated an incredibly dark period for the arts, and they are a symbol of the unstoppable determination that exists to perform operatic works.
More information about #OperaHarmony can be found on this link.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & FOUNDER, HELIOS COLLECTIVE
Helios Collective was started on a cold winter’s night in 2012—by artistic director Ella Marchment—with a Facebook group and a logo drawn on a napkin.
Helios is now a trailblazing company that offers opportunities to artists across the opera-performing spectrum. Having toured nationally and internationally, Helios has rapidly earned a reputation for putting on captivating productions and specialising in the promotion of bold new works. The company is committed to being at the forefront of operatic innovation, providing unrivalled professional support to people working in opera and helping them to challenge, revitalise, and promote the genre as a vibrant art form.
In its early years, Helios produced an eclectic array of ambitious events – involving over 1500 of Britain’s most promising artists – ranging from concerts of opera scenes; a song-cycle concert series; masterclasses with leading international practitioners, including Kasper Holten (Director of Opera, the Royal Opera), Stephen Barlow (Artistic Director, Buxton Festival), Stephen Unwin (pre-eminent writer and director), David Parry (award-winning conductor), Robert Saxton (Professor of Composition, Worcester College, University of Oxford), and Bettina Bartz (dramaturg, writer, and director); a UK tour of Walton’s The Bear – along with two new compositions selected following a global competition – to the Rose Theatre Kingston, Sage Gateshead, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and St Cyprian’s, London; an international tour of Peter Maxwell Davies’s Eight Songs For A Mad King and William Walton’s Façade to the Arcola Theatre, the Rose Theatre Kingston, and the Saint Petersburg Philharmonia, Russia; an opera-ballet double-header of Stravinsky’s Renard and The Soldier’s Tale at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London, and the Swiss Church, Covent Garden; Salon Russe with The National Portrait Gallery and Bury Court Opera; Hathaway – Eight Arias For A Bardic Life at Buxton Festival and Copenhagen Opera Festival, and an operatic club-night series called Toi Toi in London.
Helios’s programming caters for people who appreciate high-quality productions, but who are also looking for new experiences and works that take them beyond the traditional canon. With award-winning directors and designers, graduates from the leading music conservatoires and drama colleges, and highly skilled professional mentors, Helios is a tight-knit operative that inspires artistic excellence in others and encourages people from diverse backgrounds to share and develop their creative talents.
More information about Helios Collective can be found on the company’s website by following this link.
SWAP’ra is a charitable organisation founded by a group of artists who are working to bring about positive change for women and parents employed in opera.
- CHALLENGES preconceptions in order to improve attitudes towards women and parents in the arts
- COLLATES data from existing artists in the industry and offers effective and workable solutions for companies
- CELEBRATES professional achievements in an industry where women are under-represented in many areas
- PROVIDES a friendly, supportive, and non-judgemental community
- OFFERS a platform for performance and publicity
More information about SWAP’ra can be found on the company’s website by following this link.
DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTIONS, CONSTELLA OPERABALLET
Constella Ballet & Orchestra was founded in 2011 by conductor Leo Geyer. The company has given over sixty critically acclaimed performances across the UK – including broadcasts on national radio and television – and it has established a reputation for showcasing exceptionally talented artists in exhilarating and experimental productions.
Constella’s aim is to present music and dance as equals through a synthesis of opera and ballet. In creating rich, diverse, and captivating productions, Constella specialises in producing coherent and compelling dramas that take audiences into thought-provoking and uncharted artistic waters.
In 2015 Helios Collective and Constella staged a double-bill co-production of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale and Renard at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, which led to Ella becoming Constella’s director of productions. Today, the company is known as Constella OperaBallet.
Ella worked for Constella OperaBallet until 2018.
More information about Constella OperaBallet can be found on the company’s website by following this link.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER, THEATRE N16
Theatre N16 launched above the White Hart pub in Stoke Newington, London, in May 2015 with a packed programme of original plays and operas. Following the success of its opening season, the theatre moved to a larger venue above the Bedford Pub in Balham, London, in September 2015.
Co-founded by Jamie Eastlake and Ella Marchment, Theatre N16 works tirelessly to promote cutting-edge productions across both theatre and opera.
The theatre also provides a supportive and cost-effective space in which visiting companies can showcase their creations to a wide spectrum of London’s theatre-going public and professional critics.
Ella worked for Theatre N16 until 2016.