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Frida biographies

Francesca Murray-Fuentes is a British-Chilean director and theatre maker. She is Associate Artist with Red Ladder, and has previously been Resident Director at Oxford Playhouse, and resident Trainee Assistant Director at Leeds Playhouse. She was recognised in 'The Stage 100' for her contribution to the industry during the pandemic, and her play The Runner was nominated for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. Francesca trained on the renowned MFA in Theatre Directing at Birkbeck.


Recent credits as Director: Alice In Wonderland (Kew Gardens); Transparency (national tour); Love In the Time of Corona (Jermyn Street Theatre - also as playwright); Doggerland, Silent Statues (National Youth Theatre); Dance Protest (Bunker Theatre); La Llorona (Dance City); King Lear (Rose Bruford); Ref! (Space2 + regional tour); The Runner (Theatre Deli, Oxford Playhouse, Edinburgh Fringe).


As Associate/Assistant: Local Hero (Chichester Festival Theatre); Red Riding Hood Rock'n'Roll Panto (Mountview); Blue/Orange (Royal & Derngate; Oxford Playhouse, Bath Theatre Royal); Mother Courage, The Damned United (Red Ladder); 84 Charing Cross Road (Cambridge Arts + national tour); Happiness Engineers (Barbican); Into The Woods, Richard III, Night Before Christmas (Leeds Playhouse); Every You Every Me, Children of the Night, Cinderella (Oxford Playhouse).

Cuban American composer and conductor Odaline de la Martínez is now based in the UK, where she has become a formidable force on today's classical music scene, pursuing a busy career as an award-winning composer, conductor, record producer and event curator. Working with everything from Mozart symphonies to the latest contemporary music, she has acquired an illustrious reputation for her versatile and eclectic vision, with a longstanding special commitment to contemporary music, women composers, and Latin American composers. 

Since the 1990s, Odaline de la Martínez has enjoyed a demanding conducting schedule, working with some of the world's elite orchestras and ensembles. She was the first woman to conduct a BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall age 34 and has returned to conduct several concerts there since - most notably in 1994, with a special BBC Proms performance of Dame Ethel Smyth’s opera The Wreckers, which was recorded by Conifer Records and released by BMI records in the United States and Retrospect Opera in the UK. 

In addition to frequent broadcasts for the BBC TV and radio, Martínez has recorded over 40 CDs for her own record label, Lorelt (Lontano Records), which she founded in 1992, as well as appearing on other major labels such as Summit, BMI, and Albany Records in the United States; Chandos, Metier, Retrospect Opera, SOMM, NMC and Conifer Classics in the UK; and Da Capo in Denmark. 

Martínez is much in demand as a guest conductor, appearing frequently with leading orchestras worldwide and throughout Great Britain, including all the BBC orchestras and ensembles. 

She has received numerous awards including a Marshall Scholarship from the British Government, a Guggenheim Fellowship, was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and the Villa Lobos Medal from the Brazilian Government. In 2017 Martinez received a Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2019 a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the University of Surrey, a Gold Badge from the Ivors Academy of Composers and Song Writers, and a Lukas Lifetime Achievement Award for her achievement as a woman and a member of the Latin American Community. Martinez’s opera trilogy Imoinda – A Story of Love and Slavery received its World Premiere at the 7th London Festival of American Music in 2019 to critical acclaim. 

Martinez was co-curator of Julliard’s 2020 Trailblazers Festival that featured Trailblazer Women Composers. In 2021 she was appointed Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey. In 20223 Tulane University created a music award in her name. 

Lu Herbert is a freelance Set and Costume Designer based in the North of England. They have a creative practice that embraces sustainability, vibrancy and play. Collaboration is a core facet of their design process. Lu has both a BA from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Set and Costume Design, and an MA in Collaborative Theatre Production and Design from Guildhall School of Music and Drama. 


Recent and upcoming works include Romeo and Juliet (Theatre Royal Plymouth), The Whispering Jungle (Mercury Theatre, UK Tour), Why the Whales Came (Theatre Royal Plymouth, Taunton Brewhouse), HELP! WE ARE STILL ALIVE! (Seven Dials Playhouse), Worlds Apart (Northern Stage), Maria de Buenos Aires (Northern Opera Group), Frida (Northern Opera Group UK Premiere), GLOW (CAST Doncaster, UK Tour) and TOXIC (HOME, Manchester). 


Rosaleen D. Orr is a Scottish Wardrobe Supervisor, Costume Maker, and Designer. She graduated with a first-class BA honors degree from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh in Costume Design and Construction.

Productions include 2017-Current Wardrobe Assistant for Phantasy (short film), Jane Austin (Promenade), Hetty Feather (York

Theatre Royal) Costume Assistant for Jack in the Beanstalk Pantomime (Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh) Ballad of the sad cafe (short film) Specialist Corset Maker for Morrigan (short

film) Specialist Wig Maker for Cinderella Pantomime (Brunton Theatre Musselburgh) Costume Designer for Unsupervised Fleein Oldtimers (short film for Edinburgh film festival) Wardrobe Coordinator for Evita the Musical and The Clockmakers Daughter (Leeds Conservatoire) Costume Supervisor for Tam O’shanter (showcase and film) Midsummer Nights' Dream, Much Ado, Julius Ceasar and The Importance of Being Earnest (Bard in the Botanics, Shakespeare Festival) Costume Supervisor and Assistant Stage Manager for Snowflake (Edinburgh Fringe Festival) Deputy Head of Wardrobe for Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and The Adventures of Peter Pan (Crossroads Pantomime Company) Merrily we roll along and Spring Awakening (Leeds Conservatoire) Head of Wardrobe for Company and SpongeBob the Musical (Leeds Conservatoire) Associate Designer for The Mikado (Charles Court Opera London)

Barnaby Booth is a lighting designer and choreographer. His lighting credits include shows directed by Sita Ostheimer, DeNada Dance Theatre/Carlos Pons Guerra, Jamaal Burkmar/Extended Play, Andrea Costanzo Martini, National Dance Company of Wales, Marikiscrycrycry, Sebastian Abarbanell, Jack Philp, Northern Rascals, SAY, Lisard Tranid and Clementine Telesfort, Akeim Toussaint Buck/Toussaint to Move and Crystal Zillwood, Wilhelmina Ojanen, Abbott Dance Company, Impact Dance/Hakeem Onibudo, Unholy Mess Theatre Company, Feet Off the Ground, Mavin Khoo, Ieva Kuniskis, Tora Hed, Staatstheater Kassel and Mala Kline.

Venezuelan-Indian soprano Parvathi Subbiah is a former student of Mirella Freni at her Centro Universale del Bel Canto Academy in Italy. Parvathi began studying piano and singing in Venezuela and went on to study at the Oberlin Conservatory with Julien Robbins, and later with Elizabeth Hynes at the University of Southern California. 

On the opera stage, her roles include Susanna at the Lyric Opera Studio in Weimar; Violetta and Mimi at the Aspen Music Festival; Sandrina la Finta Giardiniera and Mrs Coyle Owen Wingrave at the University of Southern California; Geraldine Barber’s A Hand of Bridge at the Londrina Music Festival, Brazil; Suor Angelica with the Empyrean Ensemble in Cambridge; and Violetta in La Traviata at the Figaro Opera Society in Venice. Most recently she was part of the Guest Artist ensemble for Welsh National Opera’s newly commissioned opera “Migrations” with music by Will Todd and performed the role of Nadine with the company this November, conducted by Matthew K Waldren. She is also a Lies Askonas Fellow with Askonas Holt.


Colombian Baritone Jacobo Ochoa, graduated from the GSMD, with a First Class Honours degree. He was a member of the Tenerife Opera Studio (19/20) where he performed the role of Belcore at Opera de Tenerife, National State Theatre of Tbilisi, and Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Next season (2023/24) Jacobo will join the studio of the Staatsoper Stuttgart for the next two years.


He made his debut at the Festival Verdi in Parma in 2020, under the baton of Roberto Abbado. Recent and future engagements include, a return to Opera de Tenerife for Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Tosca at the Teatro Mayor de Bogota, Figaro (Mozart) for West Green Opera, Marullo (Rigoletto) and Alcade (La Forza del Destino) in the Festival Verdi in Parma and in 2022 and in 2023, La Traviata and Beethoven’s 9th in Medellín, Colombia.

London-born soprano and educator Raphaela Papadakis studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Clare College Cambridge, where she won numerous prizes and awards, including 1st prize at the National Mozart Competition. She has since enjoyed a busy and varied career as an operatic soprano, singing for companies such as the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and the Berlin Staatsoper, and specialising in contemporary chamber-music repertoire, performing with such world-class groups as the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective, the Navarra Quartet and Meta4. A Vocal Fellow at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago and an Artist-in-Residence at the Banff Centre in Canada, she produced and starred in her own sold-out show I Object at the ICA, generously supported by the City Music Foundation. Along with her co-star Michael Lafferty, Raphaela was a finalist for a 2023 Offie Award in the Best Opera Performance category for her role as Sofia in Sorozabal's Black, el payaso for the Cervantes Theatre. Raphaela is passionate about music education and community music-making and has several posts leading choirs and singing groups. A qualified teacher, she also runs a thriving private studio where she teaches students of all ages and abilities, helping them to find their own authentic voice.


Julia Merino began piano and singing studies in her Spanish hometown, Málaga. Currently, she continues her academic singing studies with Janice Chapman and Marcus van den Akker at Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London, United Kingdom), where she has been offered a place at the Opera Course programme next academic year.

She has received master classes from different international professionals such Carlos Aransay, Joel Prieto, Patrizia Patelmo, Andrea Ambrosini, Jessica Cottis, Marie Vassiliou, TobiasTruniger,

Francesco Cilluffo and Emma Kirby.

As a mezzo-soprano soloist, she has performed outstanding works such as the “Mass in E flat major” by Eduardo Ocón, Pergolesi ́s “Stabat Mater”, the “Coronation Mass” and “Requiem” by Mozart, Charpentier ́s “Te Deum” and “Messe de Minuit”. She has worked with various orchestras such as “Orquesta de Cámara del Conservatorio Superior de Málaga”, “Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga”,“Orquesta Sinfónica de Málaga” and “Orquesta Universidad de Jaén”.

She has been part of the “Teatro Lírico Andaluz” company, with which she has sung in numerous Andalusian towns, and of the Málaga Opera Choir.

As upcoming projects, she will perform several recitals and oratorio programs as a soloist which will take place in Spain and UK during the coming months.


Harry Grigg is a Tenor from Cheviot, New Zealand and is a Samling Artist and a 2023 Alvarez Young Artist at Garsington Opera. He has recently finished his Masters as the Kiri te Kanawa Scholar at the Royal College of Music. Harry was the winner of the 2021 Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards Competition and a semifinalist in the 2022 Royal Overseas League Competition. He was a Dame Malvina Major Foundation Studio Artist with New Zealand Opera and a member of the Dame Kiri te Kanawa Singers Development Programme.

Recent roles include Tanzmeister, Ariadne auf Naxos (Garsington Opera cover) Amour, Castor et Pollux (The Rameau Project, The Opera Company), Monostatos, Die Zauberflöte (RCM Opera Studio), The Moon and King of The West, The Enchanted Pig (Yarra Valley Opera Festival, Australasian premiere), Scarramuccio, Ariadne auf Naxos (Lisa Gasteen National Opera School) and Frederic, The Pirates of Penzance (Opera Otago)


Indian-Scottish Neil Balfour is a graduate of Leeds College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Opera Studio. He started life as a pianist, conductor and punk-rocker before having a Damascus moment and falling in love with classical singing. A former Britten-Pears, Samling, Momentum and Concordia artist, he is the first opera singer to be booked by the Glastonbury Festival in the Astrolabe Tent and the first to beatbox in an opera at Longborough Festival Opera. In the current season engagements include his American debut as Father Thumbprint for Portland Opera, Safin The Shoemaker (world premiere) for Welsh National Opera, Eustache The Six of Calais (world premiere) for Pegasus Opera and Alice Through the Looking Glass (world premiere) for the London Symphony Orchestra. He also performs a Schumann recital tour for Oxford Lieder, Ulverston International Music Festival, Perfectly Pitched Recital Series and a concert tour of Veneto, Italy. Highlights in recent seasons include Prince Yamadori Madama Butterfly (Welsh National Opera); Jean Arp Sophie (Tête à Tête); a recital with Roderick Williams for Thaxted Festival; and a Sondheim recital for Oxford Lieder


Countertenor Biraj Barkakaty's careers highlights include Oberon with the Aspen Music Festival, 3rd Israelite in Handel’s Esther with Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, Xerse in Cavalli’s Xerse with Ensemble OrQuesta, and Kenny Stiller in Keeper’s of the Light at the Nahant Music Festival. Other engagements include Hercules in The Choice of Hercules with Collegium Musicuum Riga in Latvia, Fidele in Diary of a Madman with Seattle’s LowBrow Opera Collective and Countertenors, Consort and Continuo with the Gotham Early Music Scene in NYC. Recent projects include Adnan in A Silver Spoon at the Beaumaris Festival, and Ottone in The Coronation of Poppea with Capitol Opera Richmond. He was a featured artist with Faces of Early Music America, and was a 2022 Young Artist on the Glyndebourne/Pegasus Opera Mentorship program. Upcoming performances include Fakir in The Secret Garden with TheatreLab Dayton, Vasu in ‘Ganga’ at the National Opera Studio, and Mensajero Two in the staged UK premiere of Domenico Zipoli’s Loyola at the Grimeborn Festival. Biraj was previously an Alto Lay Clerk at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle for four years and a staff Alto with the Washington National Cathedral Choir from 2016-21. He currently divides his time between the UK and USA. 

With extensive experience in opera and oratorio, as well as chamber and choral music, Valentina Díaz is a Leeds-based Chilean soprano who has dazzled on various stages across the globe. She has performed a wide range of roles over the past 10 years, including Virtu (L'incoronazione di Poppea), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), Rosina (Il Barbiere di Seviglia), Maria (West side story) and Le Pastourelle (L'enfant et les sortilèges), among others.


During her studies at the Conservatoire of Universidad de Chile, she was a stable member of the opera company Compañia La Diva from 2010-2016, where she performed as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, and in 2015 she performed the lead role in Chile's Teatro Municipal de Santiago's premiere of Sebastian Errázuriz's opera, "Papelucho," which was broadcasted nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of these performances, Valentina decided to pursue an international career. As a soloist, she performed in several oratorio concerts in Spain, including Mozart's Requiem (2018). In the UAE, she performed Handel's Messiah, Dixit Dominus, and Gloria with the Dubai Opera Festival Choir at the Dubai Opera House (2019-2020).


Valentina is currently a member of Leodis Consort and also continues perfecting her craft under the guidance of Phillip Voldman, Geraldine Cassidy and David Cowan from Opera North whilst preparing for her upcoming performances of Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramirez in York, BWV 232 Mass in B minor with Leodis Consort

Stephanie Jennifer Poropat is a U.K. based soprano originally from Sydney, Australia; with over a decade’s worth of performance experience in multiple countries around the world.


Her career began in Sydney, Australia with roles ranging from Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance (Gilbert & Sullivan), Valencienne in The Merry Widow (Lehar), Euridice in Orpheus in the Underworld (Offenbach), and Cassilda in The Gondoliers (Gilbert and Sullivan) with Rockdale Opera and SAVOY, Sydney. 


After moving to the U.K., she performed many roles as both a light-lyric and lyric coloratura soprano. Her varied roles included, “La Fee” from Massenet’s Cendrillon (Dir. Olivia Fauchs & M.D. Martin Aundre), “Die Taumännchen” from Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel (Dir. Stephen Medcalf & M.D. Anthony Kraus), “Suor Genovieffa” from Puccini’s Suor Angelica (Dir. Robert Chevara & M.D. Martin Aundre), to name a few.


When Stephanie is not enjoying a busy diary of oratorio work, she sings as a both soloist and chorus member for Grange Park Opera and The National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company.

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