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Maria biographies

Julia Martins Solomon is a British-Brazilian mezzo-soprano, with a Masters and Bachelor of Music with Honours of the First Class from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Most recently Julia performed Prince Orlofsky in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus (BOA). Opera scene roles include Carmen (Carmen, Bizet), Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen, Janáček), Sesto (Giulio Cesare, Handel), Idamante (Idomeneo, Mozart) at the RCS and Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel, Humperdink) during a National Opera Studio summer course. Chorus includes The Fiery Angel (Prokofiev, Scottish Opera), The Day After (Dove, RCS), Street Scene (Weill, RCS) and the UK staged premier of Dead Man Walking (Heggie, RCS).

Julia was a prize winner in the international Concurso Brasileiro de Canto Maria Callas in São Paulo. Julia has been honoured to perform in Masterclasses with Malcolm Martineau, Ralph Strehle and Karen Cargill.


Born in Aveiro - Portugal, Ricardo Panela has established himself over the last few years as an Award-winning versatile performer, with a repertoire ranging from the florid Baroque and Bel Canto roles to contemporary opera. 

After winning the baritone category of the 2018 Armel Opera Festival Singing Competition, Ricardo performed the role of Leporello in a new production of Don Giovanni at the Teatro Carlos Cueva Tamariz in Ecuador (the first time ever that the opera was performed in Ecuador), and at the MüPA in Budapest in 2019, where he won the award for ‘Best Performer’ at the Armel Opera Festival.

He recorded two albums in 2020 during the global pandemic which were released in 2021 to critical acclaim: his debut album Berlin im Licht - A Kurt Weill Songbook on Artway Records and an album of songs by Portuguese composer Fernando Lopes-Graça for Naxos Classical. 

Ricardo trained at the University of Aveiro in Portugal and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He currently studies with Sherman Lowe. 


Colombian-Italian baritone Carlos Cerchiaro has sung as a soloist in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier with the Colombian National Opera. In 2018 he sang in the

autumn/winter season at the Cathedral de Notre-Dame Paris. He is currently studying a Masters in Voice Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he recently performed in the Summer Opera production of Kurt Weill’s Der Zar lässt sich photographieren with the Opera Course and in Il prigioniero by Dallapiccola with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano at the Barbican Centre.


Anna Maria Ilieva Bilioni was born in Athens, Greece and has trained contemporary, ballet and various other disciplines at K.S.O.T (National school of dance in Greece) and Northern School of Contemporary Dance. During her studies at NSCD she has worked alongside Opera North in their production The Cunning Little Vixen which included a tour across major Northern cities in the UK.

Born in Catania, Italy, Giulia Carastro started ballet dance training at the age of 4. Moving to the school ASDC Dietro le Quinte, in Catania, she decided to include contemporary dance in her practice. In 2021 she moved to Leeds, UK, to attend the BA (Hons) Dance (Contemporary) course at NSCD. Here she had the opportunity to work with acclaimed artists such as Carlos Pons Guerra and Bruno Guillore, and experiment with new styles such as lip-synch, dance theatre, jazz and Indian Dance. She is now looking to learn new practices and participate to new experiences to include in her artistic baggage, starting from working with Northern Opera Group for this exciting new production.

Katy Marshall is a queer non-binary dance artist based in Leeds. They began dancing Ballroom and Latin when little, which sparked an interest to explore Contemporary at Laban Youth Dance Company. Katy is currently studying at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance where they first worked with Carlos for ‘New Ground’  2023 in his piece ‘Wild Flowers’. Katy finds that working with Queer culture and all its campness, experimenting with multidisciplinary practices gives them so much joy and they are grateful for the opportunity to share this with others.

Tony Polo is a freelance Yorkshire based dance artist. Born in Glasgow, he began his dance training at Dance Studio Scotland in 2016, training in a variety of dance styles. During this time, he was also selected to join the Scottish Ballet Youth Exchange which saw him performing internationally in Torino and New York City. In 2020 be moved to Leeds to start training at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, where he has since graduated with a BA honours degree.  Up until now he has participated in a variety of projects which have boosted his professional development including dance films, music videos, concerts and stage performances. For the future he looks forward to continuing his career as a performer and also developing choreographic work of his own, which is an area of dance that greatly interests him.

Pablo Reyero started his dance training in Madrid, Spain, at Danza 180º,  and later graduated with a BA from Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 2023. He is currently a freelance artist based in Leeds where he develops his performative, choreographic and teaching practices. Pablo is part of Glitterbomb Dance Company directed by Joseph Mercier, Imogen Reeve and Matthew Robbinson. He has also performed work from choreographers such as Fernanda Prata, Ben Wright and  Sharon Watson.

Growing up in Derbyshire, Mairead Rutter O'Connor started contemporary dance from the age of 4 , she later joined the Dance4 Cat program where she had the chance to work with Gary Clarke and Ben Wright. She is now training at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, going into her final year. Mairead enjoys performing as much as she does choreographing and aims to spread her quirkiness wherever she goes

Carlos Pons Guerra is an independent choreographer who was created work for companies including Ballet Hispánico of New York, Rambert, Nashville Ballet, Sadler's Wells, Northern Ballet, Ballet Concierto Dominicano, Birmingham Rep, Attakkalari (India), Mind the Gap and more. Nominated for the Best Emerging Artist category at the UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2015, he has been described as a choreographer "of innate intelligence and theatricality" by Dance Europe Magazine, and his choreography as containing “dazzling imagery” that is “superlatively danced” by the Financial Times.


Working in ballet, contemporary dance and theatre, and always with an adoration for kitsch, melodrama and high camp, Carlos creates work that explores gender, cultural and sexual identity, trying to entertain, move and provoke thought through emotionally motivated movement, narrative and theatricality. He is interested in creating unique, absurd and highly emotive worlds and characters onstage. Often stemming from personal experience, distortions of Hispanic/Latinx culture, and hugely inspired by film directors/writers such as Pedro Almodovar, Angela Carter, Jean Genet, John Waters or Tennessee Williams, “His work combines lacerating social comment with outrageous showmanship. It’s witty, it’s penetrating, and it’s personal.” The Observer


Carlos’ choreography has been performed across the globe at major dance theatres including The Joyce Theatre (NYC), Sadler's Wells and the Royal Opera House in London, the Chennai Music Academy (India), the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Santo Domingo), the United Palace Theatre (NYC) and Birmingham Repertory Theatre, as well as in key international festivals including Brighton International Festival; The Ballet Festival of Cali, Colombia; International Dance Festival Birmingham; Gender Bender Festival in Bologna; Homotopia Festival Liverpool;  and the International Dance Festival of Santo Domingo. 


He founded DeNada Dance Theatre in 2012 as a company that subverts, celebrates and explores Hispanic and Latinx culture in the UK and beyond, as well offering a platform for LGFBTQ+ narratives.  For DeNada,  Carlos has created four internationally touring full length productions, receiving a nomination for Best Independent Company in the UK Critic's Circle National Dance Awards (2016). 


Carlos began his ballet studies at the Choreographic Centre of Las Palmas, under direction of Carmen Robles and Anatol Yanowsky, before training at the Royal Conservatoire for Dance of Madrid 'María de Ávila' and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds.

Natalia Luis-Bassa is a dynamic conductor and a passionate advocate for young musicians’ education.


As part of her career, she has promoted the conducting craft and orchestra playing for young people, and believes that the provision of music education should be a right available to everyone.


Natalia has established numerous successful partnerships with a wide variety of organisations in the UK and globally. These include the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, AMIS, and the Benedetti Foundation.


Her record-breaking accomplishments include being the first person to graduate with a degree in Orchestral Conducting in her native country Venezuela as well as being the first woman to hold a permanent position as Professor of Conducting at the Royal College of Music.


As part of her postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music, she was awarded the RCM Junior Fellowship in opera conducting. She then completed a master's degree at the University of Huddersfield, where she was a part-time lecturer.


It was at the Royal College of Music where she developed a love for the music of Elgar and was named an Elgar Ambassador by the Elgar Society. This was because of her enthusiasm for introducing the composer’s music to Latin American audiences.


Since 2020, she has been appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of the Oxford University Orchestra.

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.

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