Page Index

Photo of Louisa May Alcott. Little Women directed by Ella Marchment at Opera Holland Park


Art Muse London

In both book and opera, this is a coming of age work, but there is no doubt that the opera gives Louisa May Alcott’s book more gravitas. For it to work however, clever staging is key … Director, Ella Marchment, made maximum use of the stage, using the front and back lip of the stage to dramatise key moments of tension between the main protagonists … A memorable production – one which will appeal to wider audiences.

Karine Hetherington, Art Muse London


Opera Holland Park’s new production is the first in the UK; a beautifully crafted staging by Ella Marchment shows this to be an opera which explores its characters in an exceptionally compelling and profound way.

It’s a magnificent piece of drama.

By its end, I felt that my understanding of people and life and love had been enhanced, which is a rare thing for an opera.

David Karlin, Bachtrack

Broadway World

It’s an evening full of rewards, musical and intellectual, a long way from the lazy stereotype of Little Women as a novel for teenage girls finding themselves in bookish Jo, pretty Meg, doomed Beth and charming Amy.

Gary Naylor, Broadway World

Evening Standard

A talented cast shine in this approchable adaption of Alcott’s classic novel.

Ella Marchment’s production is economical yet intricate … [providing one of] opera’s most moving moments.

Nick Kimberley, Evening Standard

Financial Times

The skilful distillation of Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved novel … gives space to Jo’s emotions, especially her sense of loss as the childhood idyll of the four sisters breaks up.

A welcome outing at Opera Holland Park.

Richard Fairman, Financial Times

Music OMH

Ella Marchment’s staging is highly effective at making the drama feel both accessible and nuanced … it proves to be an intelligently crafted and frequently compelling affair.

Sam Smith, Music OMH

Musical America Worldwide

Ella Marchment’s bustling production is clear-sighted and adept at getting to the emotional heart of the story.

Few modern operas can boast such open-hearted, yet savvy music. Opera Holland Park’s fine ensemble cast does the rest, ensuring Alcott’s timeless tale of growing up hits its usual home run.

Clive Paget, Musical America Worldwide

Opera Wire

Director Ella Marchment creates some wonderful enhancements to the libretto by judicious use of humor and comic acting, particularly between Jo, whose wonderful wit is never far away in any scene, particularly when with Laurie, her lifelong friend and admirer.

Marchment’s real triumph here though is the … ultimately inspirational utilizing of what the cast list describes as a “Quartet of female voices.”

Mike Hardy, Opera Wire

Planet Hugill

In Ella Marchment’s imaginative production at Opera Holland Park … Mark Adamo’s imaginatively engaging opera finally gets its premiere in a sophisticated and appealing production with a superbly balanced quartet of sisters at its heart.

One of the virtues of Marchment’s production was the way she brought strong theatrical imagination to the work and created complex dramaturgical moments that were transparently obvious in the theatre. You knew who was who and what was what, despite the multi-layered action.

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

Plays To See

Musical, dramatic, and creative values fuse to present a long but continuously engrossing evening.

It seems hard to explain that this fine work has taken over twenty years to reach these shores and the director, Ella Marchment, deserves great credit for introducing it to us in such fluent and dramatically effective terms. This is a very wordy opera, but it is a testament to the director’s skill that the production is constantly on the move with excellent use made of the forestage walkway around the orchestra pit and a flurry of convincing, in-character, stage business to engage the eye. This should be the first production of many, one hopes, of this excellent work.

Tim Hochstrasser, Plays To See

The Arbuturian

Sentimentality is hard to escape in Little Women but Marchment overcomes this with the sheer zest of this production … The evening is carried through by some cracking performances and fine playing … making this is a worthwhile and, at times, surprising evening out.

Anna Selby, The Arbuturian

The Article

A remarkable achievement … the intricacies of the story were brought to life.

Mark Ronan, The Article

The Guardian

Ella Marchment’s production for Opera Holland Park … always treats Alcott’s themes and characters with affectionate sensitivity and respect.

Martin Kettle, The Guardian

The Guardian (preview)

Our Little Women are not just young people growing up in 1860s Concord but everywomen who endure in us all, irrespective of time. And as Alcott’s March sisters talk to us across ages and realms, it is ever more important for us to recognise and celebrate our fundamental rights as women to make our own choices, especially now when even something as elemental as control over our bodies is at risk.

Ella Marchment, The Guardian

The Telegraph

The performers, led by Charlotte Badham’s feisty, ever-active Jo, and her three sisters Meg (Kitty Whately), Beth (Harriet Eyley) and Amy (Elizabeth Karani) are sharply characterised in Ella Marchment’s well crafted production, set within Madeleine Boyd’s elegant designs, four picture frames for four sisters.

Nicholas Kenyon, The Telegraph

The Times

As there’s a lot to like about Little Women at Opera Holland Park … pull out your best bonnet, treat yourself to a new hair ribbon and trot off to enjoy a summer’s evening of entertainment with the enduringly popular March sisters.

[The] UK premiere features lovely vocal performances in an effective staging by Ella Marchment.

Rebecca Franks, The Times



All photos (c) Opera Holland Park / Ali Wright.

I recently calculated how many hours are spent preparing and rehearsing a show, and it came to 300 hours. As the show was two hours long, it meant that there were 150 preparation-and-rehearsal hours for every hour of stage time. That’s two and a half hours for every minute.

Spotlight on Ella Marchment


1. Little Women panel discussion: Louisa May Alcott and the American opera

A transatlantic conversation on a beloved novel of girlhood and the UK premiere of a classic American opera.

2. In conversation with Ella Marchment, the director of the UK premiere of Little Women

In this episode of From the Producer’s Office, CEO and Director of Opera James Clutton speaks to some of the artists and directors involved in Opera Holland Park’s 2022 season.

The interviewees talk about the excitement of being reunited with their OHP family, the pressures of singing iconic roles, and why it’s so important to have a woman direct Carmen in 2022.

3. In conversation with the March sisters from our upcoming production of Little Women

In this episode of From the Producer’s Office, CEO and Director of Opera James Clutton is joined by the March sisters from Opera Holland Park’s upcoming production of Little Women.

The ‘sisters’ talk about their relationships with Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, the many previous adaptations of the book, and introducing audiences to a contemporary work that they might not have heard before.

4. In conversation with Little Women composer Mark Adamo

Mark Adamo’s opera Little Women will be making its UK premiere during the OHP 2022 Season. In this episode of From the Producer’s Office, CEO and Director of Opera James Clutton talks to Mark about how he became a composer and librettist, the process of adapting this beloved novel into opera form, Little Women’s original premiere starring Joyce DiDonato, and the preparations for the UK premiere this summer.

5. In conversation with the March sisters after the studio run

Today, James Clutton speaks to the cast and director of Little Women after an exciting and emotional studio run. On the warmest day of the year in England, Charlotte Badham, Kitty Whately, Lizzie Karani, Harriet Eyley and Ella Marchment talk to James about the buzz of the studio run, the journey the team has been on, and the excitement of getting the show on stage.

6. Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4

The UK premiere of Little Women opens at Opera Holland Park later this week. The award-winning director Ella Marchment joins Krupa Padhy, along with Charlotte Badham who makes her professional debut as Jo.

Presenter: Krupa Padhy
Producer: Emma Pearce

Click here to stream or download the episode