Robin is a writer and director for opera and theatre and she founded OperaUpClose in 2009. Her directing credits for the company, all in her own new English translations, are Carmen (Soho Theatre & UK tour), La Traviata (Tricycle Theatre, Soho Theatre & UK tour), La Bohème (Soho Theatre, Charing Cross Theatre, Cock Tavern Theatre & UK tour), Don Giovanni (Soho Theatre & UK tour) and The Barber of Seville (King’s Head Theatre & UK tour). She also wrote the English libretto for OperaUpClose’s The Marriage of Figaro and directed the UK premiere of Young Wife for the company. Other opera directing credits include a double bill of her own new version of Let's Make an Opera and Britten's The Little Sweep (Malmö Opera), La Traviata (Malmö Opera, Swedish tour) and Ariodante (rev. director English Touring Opera). Theatre directing includes Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off(King’s Head Theatre), the world premiere of Glyn Maxwell’s Masters, Are You Mad? (Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre), The Taming of the Shrew (Southwark Playhouse), Glyn Maxwell's Best Man Speech (UK tour) and Pick ‘n’ Myths (devised for Lyric Theatre Hammersmith and UK tour). Prior to directing, Robin read English Literature at Hertford College, Oxford University and trained as a journalist before working in press and marketing for English Touring Opera. She is a 2013/14 Clore Leadership Fellow and is a former trustee of Farnham Maltings and Bloomsbury Festival.
Valentina graduated from Oxford University and went on to train for two years at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris. Since then she has been working in theatre, live art and opera in the UK and Europe, including assisting at La Scala opera house in Milan. As Associate Director of OperaUpClose she has directed Manifest Destiny (by Keith Burstein and Dic Edwards), The Elixir of Love (Gaetano Donizetti), Dido and Aeneas (Henry Purcell), The Magic Flute (Mozart) and Ulla’s Odyssey (Anthony Young and Leanna Brodie), the company’s first opera for young people. Valentina is also co-artistic director of contemporary theatre company Dancing Brick with Thomas Eccleshare with whom she has written and performed in all the company's shows, including the critically acclaimed 21:13 and the award-winning 6.0: How Heap and Pebble Took on the World and Won, Thumbelina’s Great Big Adventure, The Snow Child, and Jason and the Argonauts. The company often work with Tobacco Factory Theatres in Bristol, the Cambridge Junction and the Unicorn Theatre in London and are currently on attachment with the National Theatre Studio. Valentina is also co-artistic director of design-led performance collective Brave New Worlds, whose production Trinity recently toured to Bilbao, London and Taipei.
Amy joined OperaUpClose as an Assistant Producer on The Marriage of Figaro at The King's Head Theatre in August 2014. Since then, Amy has worked on OperaUpClose’s revivals of The Elixir of Love, La bohème and The Barber of Seville (King’s Head Theatre) and La traviata (Tricycle Theatre), as well as new productions of Carmen (Soho Theatre) and Ulla’s Odyssey (Kings Place). In 2017, Amy produced OperaUpClose’s La Voix Humaine (Kings Place), The Magic Flute (Soho Theatre) and Eugene Onegin (Arcola Theatre). She has also lead on the programming and marketing campaigns for all of these productions on tour. In 2012, Amy founded Poltimore Festival (poltimorefestival.co.uk), a one day arts event showcasing local talent in Devon, at a 16th-century Tudor manor house. Amy managed the production team and 70 performing artists who entertained 500 audience members each year. This festival is now thriving in its fifth year.
Imogen joined the OperaUpClose team in January 2019. She graduated in 2015 with a First-class honours’ degree in Theatre and Film from the University of Bristol. Since then Imogen has gained professional development experience, fundraising for a theatre for her hometown in Shropshire. In December 2018 she graduated from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with a postgraduate degree in Applied Theatre. Whilst obtaining this degree, she coordinated and fundraised for multiple arts outreach projects, including her own two-month international research project which investigated the benefit of arts practices in Mumbai’s slums and schools. Other participant groups she has worked with include; acute dialysis patients, disability arts groups, students, teachers and education specialists.
Helen joined the OperaUpClose team in July 2017. Since then she has worked on two new OperaUpClose productions – The Magic Flute (Soho Theatre) and Eugene Onegin (Arcola Theatre) – and their subsequent UK tours. Helen graduated from Cambridge University in June 2016 with a First-class honours Degree in Music. As a clarinettist, she performed with the University's top orchestras, chamber groups, and in several operas for Cambridge University Opera Society, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Eugene Onegin. Helen also enjoyed programming and managing musical events at Cambridge, including the University's Lunchtime Concert Series in 2015-16 and a symphony orchestra tour to Cologne. After graduating Helen worked for Cambridge University Musical Society for one year where she delivered a series of large-scale orchestral concerts with professional conductors and soloists, including Paul Daniel, Peter Donohoe and Sir Roger Norrington.
Board of Trustees
Jane Earl (Chair)
In April 2016, Jane stepped down as Chief Executive of Rich Mix, East London’s independent arts venue, a role she had held since 2010. She is currently Non-Executive Chair of Spektrix, an arts technology and ticketing company and a Non-Executive Director of Telford Homes Plc. From 1999 to 2003 she was the Chief Executive of Wokingham Unitary Council. In 2003, Jane joined the Civil Service to become the first Director of the Assets Recovery Agency. Previous roles included a two year spell as London Regional Director for Business in the Community. She is also a member of boards of a number of arts charities and faith organisations, including Greenspring Education Trust and Fantasy High Street.
David Millington (Vice Chair)
David Millington is an ombudsman with the Financial Ombudsman Service. After a first career with Midland (now HSBC) Bank, where he spent 4 years as an offshore banker in Jersey, two years as Head of Customer Relations, and three years as manager of a major county town branch, he joined the Banking Ombudsman Scheme in 1998. On the creation of the unified Financial Ombudsman Service in 2001, David became a member of the first panel of ombudsmen - he's now a lead ombudsman, focusing on the strategic development of the service. David's non-executive experience includes six years with the Pensions Advisory Service (including a spell as chair of the Audit & Risk committee), and as a member and chair of several advisory committees of the Institute of Financial Services. He's always been interested in music, particularly making it. Since those early years as a boy chorister he has sung with a number of choirs, including the English Chamber Choir, and spent almost ten years as director of music at his local church.
Amanda Ariss OBE
Amanda Ariss is the former Executive Director of Creative Diversity Network, leaving the organisation in October 2016 to pursue a freelance career. Amanda joined the CDN from the Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) where she had been Chief Executive since 2008. She is a recognised national executive leader in equality and human rights in the UK, and among other achievements she helped to secure the 2010 Equality Act. She has previously been Head of Research at the Equal Opportunities Commission, Associate Director at the Audit Commission, and has held various policy roles in London Boroughs and Greater London Councils. Amanda received an OBE in recognition of her services to equality and human rights, in the New Year’s Honours List 2016.
Joe McFadden is the Chief Technology Officer of the Royal Opera House. He is responsible for setting the strategic direction to maintain and strengthen ROH's sector leadership in technology and digital activity. Recent projects include delivering a new Digital Learning platform to support and extend ROH's learning programme. Before joining ROH, Joe was IT Director at the National Theatre for eight years, and has also held strategic IT roles at the Institute of Cancer Research and The Stage newspaper.
Born in London and trained at the RNCM, mezzo soprano Flora McIntosh has already attracted attention and praise for her 'wonderfully rich and even' voice as well as her committed and 'thrillingly convincing' acting.
Recent operatic engagements include Romeo in I Capuleti e I Montecchi for Pop-Up Opera and Carmen for OperaUpClose in London's West End, both of which received significant critical acclaim. In 2016 she created the role of The Goddess of the Sea in a new opera for children Ulla's Odyssey and made her Wagnerian debut covering Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde for Longborough Festival Opera 2017.
Other notable engagements include Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and Suzuki in Madame Butterfly (Regents Opera), Flora in La Traviata (Soho/Tricycle Theatre), Judith in Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (RNCM), The Drummer in The Emperor of Atlantis (Halle and Imperial War Museum), 3rd Lady in The Magic Flute (ETO), Myrtale in Thaïs (Grange Park Opera), and Fanny Nelson/Emma Hamilton in the world premiere of Bawden’s A Sailor’s Tale which was later recorded for NMC. Flora spent two seasons at the Batignano Festival in Italy and sang La chatte/L'ecureuil in L’enfant et les sortilèges with the European Opera Centre in Greece and Cyprus. She has been a soloist several times for the Southbank Sinfonia and Parliament Choir, sung the Angel and Queen in Elijah alongside Sir Thomas Allen and given recitals around the UK, most recently at the Garrick Club in London.
During her training at the RNCM Flora was the winner of the Anne Ziegler Award and Ricordi Prize for Opera and received generous support from the Peter Moores Foundation and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust. She has participated in masterclasses with, amongst others, Della Jones, Jane Eaglen and Malcolm Martineau. Flora is a Samling Foundation scholar and currently studies with Arwel Treharne Morgan.
Current and future plans include Das Lied Von der Erde with English National Ballet in London and on tour, Wellgunde (cover) for the Wagner Society, Mozart's Requiem for the 2018 Stratford on Avon Festival and the title role in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda.