Michael Ellis Ingram (Musical Director/Conductor) has worked as a Kapellmeister at the Theater Nordhausen and the Mecklenburgisches Staatstheater Schwerin, and as a conducting teacher at the music academies in Leipzig, Dresden and Hamburg. In addition to grand opera, he also conducts ballet, drama and musical productions. During the 2022/23 season, he will also conduct Carmen (Portland Opera), Sleeping Beauty (Compagnie Illicite Bayonne), and Porgy & Bess (Des Moines Metro Opera). Outside the orchestra pit, Michael has composed incidental music, published poetry and short stories, and lectured widely on music.
For the 2024/25 season he will be the new chief conductor at the Staatsoperette Dresden.
Rian van Holland (Director) moved into opera after a career in dance. She has directed numerous arena productions throughout Europe for Companions Opera. "With Peter Kroone (CEO Companions Opera) I learned to work for the arena and in 360°: my productions are compositions like a gourmet menu with complex flavors and different layers. We entered this project more mature and full of inspiration. We are creating an enchanting Aida with a high-caliber, multidisciplinary team of authentic creatives. A dynamic staging and a surprising fusion of different (theater) art disciplines, catapult this wonderful opera story into a new dimension!
Jerôme Knols (Choreography) studied in Tilburg but has lived and worked in Vienna for more than 25 years. He has performed in over 65 productions as musical performer, choreographer and director for many houses in Europe: Vereinigte Bühnen Wien, Stage Entertainment, Oper Chemnitz, Theater St. Gallen and many more. Jerôme unites the supposedly separate worlds of opera and musical in his work and is now implementing this unique combination for the first time for the Arena: AIDA is a dream come true for him: "I finally get to present my creativity, together with an inspiring team, to an even larger audience on a really big stage! This is unique!"
Markus Popp (Choral Director) studied in the Kapellmeister classes at the "Franz Liszt" conservatories in Weimar and Saarbrücken. His career led him as repetiteur, choral director, Kapellmeister, artistic director up to "direttore principale" over numerous opera houses, radio and symphony orchestras. Detailed experience in rehearsing and on the podium in the fields of musical theater, ballet and symphonic concert combines with brilliant repertoire range and stylistic confidence. With his passion for combining tradition with the new, he is developing the sound characteristics of the new Hanseatic Symphonic Choir for our AIDA production.
Ilka Rönitz-Leyh (Costume Design) tells unique stories with her expressive designs. By designing costumes for such an extraordinary theater production, she is pursuing her passion for design storytelling. She originally studied product and industrial design, respectively, in Germany and the United States. As a designer, she reimagined and redeveloped products for clients and also worked in retail design. There she transformed clothing stores into individual shopping worlds with an emotional brand message. Today, the theater (or arena) is her new home.
Pia Norberg (make-up and hair design) has been a make-up artist for over 20 years. She learned her profession during major opera and ballet productions at the Hamburg State Opera. Today she works with her own studio for different productions: as a make-up artist at the Karl May plays, in the Elbphilharmonie for stars like Cecilia Bartoli or Andrea Bocelli, at the Lincoln Festival in New York, the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, the Salzburg Festival, but also at the Football World Cup opening ceremony 2006 or for shows on cruise ships. All her professional facets melt into the work for AIDA.
Andreas Freichels (Artistic Site Management), born in Essen in 1968, began studying stage and costume design at the Academie Beeldenden Kunsten in Maastricht, the Netherlands, in 1994, graduating in 1998. He moves to Amsterdam and works from there as a freelance stage and costume designer, among others for the Nationale Toneel Den Haag, Theater Compagnie Amsterdam, Vlaamse Opera Gent, Toneelhuis Antwerpen. In 2008 Andreas Freichels moved to Hamburg for love and has since worked mainly in Germany. Stations of his work since then are the Staatstheater Oldenburg, Bonn, Bremen, Ulm, Magdeburg, Karl May Festspiele Bad Segeberg, and others.
Marten Mathies Lojenburg (Creation Elefant) has been working as a designer of three-dimensional objects in his hometown of Hamburg for 29 years. He is a multi-talented artist and describes himself as a draftsman, illustrator, planner, tinkerer and noble tinkerer. With his first illustrations for this AIDA he was part of the production very early. The creation of the giant elephant of the AIDA was a dream he is now realizing together with the art department of the company Nordlite, where he has been working as creative director since 2018.
Werner Schmidl (sound engineer) was first a musician, later switched "to the other side of the cable" as a technician and has been working as a sound engineer (SAE) for numerous artists and productions for almost 35 years. "As the grandson of a composer and conductor, my love of music was already ingrained in my genes. I am also trying to break new ground with this AIDA: for the first time, we will support the wonderful direction of this AIDA with sounds and noise atmospheres that will immerse our audience in ancient Egypt even before the performance begins. The way you really only know it from the movies."
Alex Brok (Lighting & Video) turned to opera after a theater technical education and a Master in Lighting Design in the USA. He created light designs for many international productions and worked with renowned directors at opera houses around the world.
His goal of bringing any event to "life" through the purposeful use of light and video has always been a fantastic and fascinating journey for him. To also embark on this journey for AIDA at Barclays Arena and to be able to reach such a large audience with his work is a dream come true for Alex.
Alessandro Uragallo (Animation & Video)
Alessandro is a video and animation designer for live events and theatre around the world. His recent animation work includes projects such as Justin Bieber's F1 Concert in Saudi Arabia, Alan Patridge's Strategem UK tour or Calvin Harris' world tour. He has also been involved in musical productions such as Frozen: The Broadway Musical, Starlight Express or The Bodyguard: The Musical at the Musical Dome Cologne.
In addition, he was also an associate designer for Disney's musical Beauty and The Beast, worked for the production of Big Fish, Elegy for Young Lovers at the Theater An Der Wien in Vienna, The End of Longing at the Playhouse Theatre or for the 30th anniversary of Les Misérables at the Queens Theatre.
Marcel Schleiff (Live Video) first worked as a writer, editor and director for TV formats and broadcasters after his studies and traineeship. In 2004, he founded a production company in order to use the film craft he had learned in the subject area he loves and is fascinated by: Live events on big stages. Since then, he has produced multi-camera broadcasts of concerts, festivals and many other cultural stage events. "With AIDA, I'm entering the world of opera for the first time and I'm very excited to be able to use all my experience and creativity here!"
Christoph Kulb (Orchestra Manager) has roots in Berlin, Schwerin and the Palatinate Wine Route. His professional career in classical music began in 2006, since then he has worked as a tour manager and artist agent. Most recently, he was orchestra director of the Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra and has been an independent music and artist manager since 2022. "I'm incredibly excited to work with the team around Michael Ellis Ingram to put together a new orchestra and bring this unique opera spectacle to the stage. Musical theater has probably never been as sensual and breathtaking as this Aida."
Lukas Schwedeck (Production Stage Manager) is a trained musical performer. After his training, his engagements took him to the Mecklenburg State Theater in Schwerin (West Side Story) and the Graz Opera (Kiss Me Kate), among others. With the productions 'Hairspray' and 'An American in Paris' he was on tour through Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In addition to his stage experience, he has also gained experience as an assistant director, evening manager and stage manager. At AIDA, he combines these experiences to manage the production as Production Stage Manager with the tasks of the evening performance.
Elise Barendregt-Loermans (concept) studied classical ballet and jazz, theater and show musical dance at Fontys Dance Academy Tilburg and Amsterdam University of the Arts. After an active dance career (among others "The Three Musketeers", "The Lion King" or opera "La Traviata") she accompanied countless opera productions for Companions Opera Amsterdam in different functions. In Hamburg, she staged numerous productions for the Stage School and then, together with her husband, wrote several concepts for large-scale events. One of these concepts is our arena opera AIDA.
Jasper Barendregt (producer) learned the craft of arena opera with Peter Kroone (NL/IT) and produced many events, festivals and shows for Companions Opera and FKP Scorpio. As CEO of the new FKP Show Creations GmbH, he develops new events and formats for arenas in Germany and throughout Europe.
"With the AIDA production, a long-awaited dream comes true. We have the experience of large international opera productions supplemented by many other influences from theater, film, gaming and last but not least, life. Together with a team of fantastic creatives, I proudly present to you our opera event AIDA - Opera for all senses."