Semele (2024)

Production Team

Music Director – Kristine Donnan

Assistant Music Director and Repetiteur – Sally Proudman

Director – Roxana Fischbacher

Producer – Gemima Iseka-Bekano

Assistant Producer – Tom Bonthrone

With special thanks to Leopold Florescu and Georgi Jones


Tech Manager/Lighting Designer – Freya Game

Faye Xiang – Lighting Assistant

Elana Mulligan – Set Designer

Imogen Hua Zou – Set Assistant

Erin Mantle – Set Assistant

Costume Designer – Charlotte Foster

Costume Assistant – Mabel Russel-Douglas

Costume Assistant – Rhona Futter

Costume Assistant – Sylvie Homewood

Stage Manager – Jack Greengross

Deputy Stage Manager – Louis Handley

Semele Cast

Photo credits – Andrew Morris Photography

Semele – Claire Gilchrist

Claire is a 5th year medical student who is in her 4th production with ESO. Previous roles with the company have included chorus in Cavalleria Rusticana (2020), Gretel in Hansel and Gretel (2022) and Chorus and Rosalinde cover in Die Fledermaus (2023). Outwith ESO Claire has been involved with NYCOS and last year sang with the NYCOS chamber choir at events including the Kings Scottish coronation at St Giles last summer. She has very much enjoyed the opportunity to take on the role of Semele this year and hopes you all enjoy the show!

Jupiter – Harry Lempriere-Johnston

Harry is a third year English Literature student, and it is his second year performing with ESO. After very much enjoying his role as Alfred in the 2023 ESO production of Die Fledermaus, he came back for another opera, this year as Jupiter in Semele. Harry has always been an enthusiastic singer from a young age, having travelled with various choirs and bands before university, and having had 5 years of singing lessons and opera training, he is keen to take it to the stage and potentially further. He is hoping to obtain a Master of Performance at the Royal College of Music after his undergraduate course at Edinburgh to further his opera skills.

Juno – Madison Cozens

Maddy is a fourth year History and Classics student at the University of Edinburgh. In addition to her role in the production, Maddy is proud to be the EUCO representative for ESO which involves communicating with her EUCO counterpart and ensuring that the orchestra is kept up to date with any important information. She was formerly a member of the Scottish Opera Young Company and has trained with Margaret Aronson since 2020. Furthermore, Maddy is an alto choral scholar with Mayfield Salisbury Church and in May 2023 performed the alto solo in Haydn’s the Creation at Glasgow Cathedral. This is her second year with ESO, having last year understudied the role of Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus. Maddy is extremely excited to be taking on the fiery role of Juno and has enjoyed exploring coloratura singing under the guidance of her singing teacher and the amazing Kristine Donnan. In September, Maddy will begin her studies of a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Cadmus and chorus – Ewan Robertson

Ewan is a First Year Biological Sciences student, and is very excited for his first show with ESO, playing the role of Cadmus. Having just completed successful runs of both 35mm: A Musical Exhibition (EUTC) and Footlights’ Showchoir show All Who Wander, he is keen to be back on stage for his third production this semester. In addition to his theatre societies, Ewan is also a member and soloist of A Capella group Cloud IX, which saw great success recently when they placed 3rd in the ICCA quarterfinals, making it to the semifinal wild card. Outside his university groups, Ewan is a Choral Scholar at Morningside Parish Church, and also a member of the amateur opera group Aria Alba, with whom he played Guglielmo in their 2023 Fringe Production of Cosi Fan Tutte. Ewan has loved the rehearsal process for Semele, and has thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to express his passion for singing in another opera, especially with such a wonderful cast and team of creatives.

Athamus and chorus – Hester Zijlstra

Hester is as fourth year Classicist. This is her third year with ESO, having previously been a chorus member in Hansel and Gretel (2022) and die Fledermaus (2023). She also sings in the Edinburgh University Singers and is one of the alto choral scholars at the Church of the Sacred Heart. She is playing the role of Athamas, a boy with no clue what’s going on half the time, in this year’s production of Semele. She is also active on committee as outreach and alumni manager, most recently being part of the organisation of a joint charity ceilidh with the Chamber and String Orchestras.

Ino and chorus – Lina Turner

Lina is a second-year German and history student at the University of Edinburgh from North Yorkshire. Before coming to university Lina was a member of the St Aidan’s Chamber choir, where she took part in many concerts in locations such as Ripon Cathedral. She was in last year’s production of Die Fledermaus as a member of the chorus and busks regularly on the Royal Mile with other ESO members. She has also taken part in other student productions including the play ‘Andorra’ by Max Frisch in her first year.

Iris and chorus – Lily Hodge

Lily is a first year Cognitive Science student joining ESO as Iris. Semele is her first full Opera, and bringing together her two backgrounds in classical music and theatre has been an exciting new venture. After starting her education in musical theatre, Lily later switched to classical training, and has a particular interest in the Baroque period and the Sean-Nós singing tradition. She has performed solo and choral repertoire her entire school career, including in the Brighton Festival Youth Chorus. Her favourite performance memory, however, was a quiet concert in a bungalow, ‘Derr Bunglehoff’, singing traditional irish folk and art song.

Somnus, High Priest and chorus – Alexander Levin

Alexander Levin (Somnus/High Priest) is attending University of Edinburgh for MSC Playwrighting. Previously he studied at The Hartt School where he received a BFA in Musical Theatre. In Edinburgh he was last seen as Baptista Minola in EUSC’s production of Taming of the Shrew. While this is his first appearance in an opera, other favorite roles include: Jud in Oklahoma! (NSMT), Pedro in Man of la Mancha (Riverside Theatre), Sir Lionel in Camelot (TUTS), and the Proprietor in Assassins (Red House Arts, Syracuse). He kindly asks members of the audience to refrain from snoring during his rendition of Somnus’ aria, Leave Me Loathsome Light.

Cupid and chorus – Hannah-Rose Laverick

Hannah is in second year studying English literature, and this is also her second year in ESO. She previously performed as a chorus soprano in last year’s production ‘Die Fledermaus’, and enjoyed it so much and decided to become more involved in the society as secretary for the committee. Asides from opportunities with ESO, Hannah performed as a chorus soprano in Scot’s Opera Project’s ‘The Seal Woman’ (2023), has recently been accepted into the National Youth Choir of Scotland and holds the soprano choral scholarship for Marchmont St Giles Parish Church. Hannah has previously been involved in music societies as soprano for the barbershop quartet: “Fourtissimo”, and this April , Hannah will be performing with the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group as “Leila “ in their “Biolanthe”. Hannah has loved every minute of the ‘Semele’ rehearsal process and is particularly excited to play ‘Cupid’ in Semele as it is her first role in an opera outside of chorus.

Apollo and chorus – Sebastian Schneerberger

Seb is a 4th Year Music student. And as well as this being his 3rd show with Edinburgh Studio Opera, it is his first as President of the society. Seb has been involved in the majority of other theatre societies and music societies the university has to offer at some stage over his time studying, but has always found Edinburgh Studio Opera to have something special about it. There are far too few amateur Opera companies in Scotland offering experiences like these to students. This year Seb and the committee have hugely increased student outreach so that for the first time in many many years, ESO’s production is performed, produced and stage directed entirely by amateur students. Seb very much hopes that the society continues to inspire students into a professional life in the arts and can’t wait to see what this year’s members go on to achieve.

Semele (cover) – Aarya Gambhir

Aarya is a 2nd Year Medical student studying at The University of Edinburgh. She began singing in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Junior Chorus. Through RSNO, she performed her first solo in the Varèse Sarabande’s 40th Anniversary Film Music concert in The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Aarya also played the flute and took vocal lessons at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Juniors for 6 years. She has won classes for the Glasgow Music Festival in Oratorio or Cantata Aria, Art Song and Gilbert and Sullivan solos. Aarya also took part in the Scottish Young Musicians Competition and came Runner Up in the Independent schools category. She achieved an ABRSM Grade 8 Distinction in Voice and in Flute and won her schools Young musician of the Year competition as Young Singer and as part of a Vocal ensemble. At university Aarya is also part of Edinburgh University Singers and performed in EUSOG’s most recent production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’.

Juno (cover) – Nicole Dickie

Nicole is a recent graduate from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and joins ESO for the first time this year. She gained lots of opera experience during her time in Wales including Chorus in Dialogues des Carmélites – Poulenc (2023) and Hortense in Not in Front of the Waiter – Offenbach (2022) and is very excited to cover Juno in this year’s production of Semele. She also has extensive solo and choral experience, she was a bursary scholar with BBC National Chorus of Wales and she currently sings with Cantabile Ensemble and the Bearsden Choir, whom she recently performed for in Carnegie Hall, New York. She has had the privilege of being taught by Suzanne Murphy, Catherine Roe-Williams and Margaret Izatt. She is currently taught by Catriona Clark, who is working with her to the goal of auditioning for Music Masters in the near future. Since graduating, she also works full time as a Letting Agent in her hometown of Hamilton, South Lanarkshire alongside pursuing her musical goals.

Ino (cover) and chorus – Isadora Szymanski

Isadora is a first year German & Classics student. Before joining ESO, she has over 6 years of choral and classical singing experience, as well as a background in theatre, having been part of the children’s Drama programme at Laine Theatre Arts, receiving her Grade 8 LAMDA in 2022. Under the tutelage of Vivienne French, she also achieved both Grade 8 Singing, and her ARSM Diploma in Singing Performance with Distinction. Alongside this she was part of Vox Celestes, an award-winning choir from Nonsuch High School for Girls, and competed and won categories in the Godalming, Reigate & Redhill, Woking, and Sutton Music Festivals. In her gap year, she undertook an Alto Choral Scholarship with St Mary Magdalene, Richmond, in which she was able to go on tour to Southwark Cathedral and Queen’s College, Cambridge. At university, Isadora is an Ordinary Member of ESO’s committee, and is a member of the production team for FreshAir Radio. In the upcoming year, she is looking forward to singing at Westminster Abbey.

Athamus (cover) and chorus – Ellen Macrae

Ellen is a 3rd year Religious Studies student, and is ESOs Publicity Manager for a second year. This is Ellen’s third year with ESO (‘Sandman’ in Hansel and Gretel, chorus in Die Fledermaus), she also sings with Opera Anywhere (The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, Suor Angelica, Amahl and the Night Visitors) putting her creative interests to use designing costumes for their recent productions of the Mikado and Iolanthe. Ellen’s first introduction to opera was through the Garsington Youth Company who she sang with for seven years, in which time she also sang with Oxford Opera, Oxfordshire Contemporary Opera, and a number of school productions, including ‘Dido’ in Dido and Aenaes. She also sings with her a capella group the Edinbellas as part of the Edinburgh University A Cappella Society, where she is on committee as Marketing Manager.

Somnus (cover), High Priest (cover) and chorus – Everest Head

Everest is a first year Linguistics student. He studied classical voice at Interlochen Arts Academy where he sang in multiple ensembles and performed several solo roles including operetta and recitals.

Iris (cover) and chorus – Lara Keen

Lara is a third year English Literature student joining ESO for the first time, performing in the chorus and as Iris’ cover. Lara is a classically trained singer, having completed her Grade 8 in singing performance with Trinity College London with a distinction last year. She has also previously sung in a number of musicals and concerts, such as EUSOG’s ‘Pirates of Penzance’ (2022) in the chorus. Lara is excited to perform in her first opera and looks forward to future productions with ESO.

Cupid (cover) and chorus – Fiona Macrae

Fiona is a fourth-year Classics student delighted to bring her knowledge of Ancient Greece and Rome to the production. Semele is Fiona’s fourth production with ESO, having been the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel (2022) and chorus in Die Fledermaus (2023) and The Remarkable Rocket (2021). Prior to joining ESO, Fiona was a member of the Garsington Opera Youth Company (2015-2021), and sang the role of a Novice in Pucini’s Suor Angelica with Opera Anywhere (2018-2019) and the Sorceress in a school production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (2019). Outside of opera rehearsals, Fiona is procrastinating on her dissertation by writing articles about the Classical world for Retrospect Journal, and attending an adult ballet class.


Misa Fijol, Everest Head, Lily Hodge, Lara Keen, Hannah-Rose Laverick, Alexander Levin, Maria Lopez Atanet, Ellen Macrae, Fiona Macrae, Hannah McGuinness, Giselle Nascimento Dias, Ewan Robertson, Sebastian Schneeberger, Isadora Szymanski, Lina Turner, Hester Zijlstra

Misia Fijol

Misia is a University of Edinburgh graduate and Semele will be their third opera with ESO. They previously performed in Eugene Onegin (2019) and Cavalleria Rusticana (2020), during which year Misia was part of the committee. They were responsible for organising events such as carolling and other fundraisers. Before ESO, Misia was part of their high school choir at LGGS, having travelled to Germany, Switzerland and Austria to perform. In their free time, they enjoy making a capella covers of their favourite songs.

Maria Lopez Atanet

María is a first year Astrophysics student and joins ESO to perform chorus in her first opera. Prior to joining ESO, María has extensive chorister experience in Spain as a soloist and in various choirs in her hometown. Moving to Scotland also provided her with opportunities to perform singing publicly and have masterclasses with amazing singers such as Dr. Patricia McMahon as a pupil at St Mary’s Music School. During her time there, she recieved singing lessons from Margaret Aronson and is now continuing her vocal studies with Kate Aitken. Aside from singing, María joined the EUBC in the women’s third team. She also plays piano and has extensive experience performing chamber music in venues like Perth Concert Hall and in masterclasses with incredible pianists such as Stephen Hough, Aaron Shorr, Danny Driver or Steven Osborne. Next year María will be starting her piano studies in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Hannah McGuinness

Hannah is a fourth year Sociology and Politics student and is back with ESO for a third year, having performed in both ‘Die Fledermaus’ and ‘Hansel and gretel’. They have been involved with opera since they were a teenager as a part of the Garsington opera youth chorus. They are also the singer in the audio/visual project ‘Astrid Von Der Pahlen’ and have done solo performances under the name BOO! They are especially thrilled to finally be in an opera that they auditioned for!

Giselle Nascimento Dias

Giselle is in her third year studying International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, and joins ESO for the third time as part of the chorus. Giselle began singing lessons at the age of thirteen, and has completed both her ABRSM Grade 8 Singing and LAMDA Grade 8 Musical Theatre exams. In January 2020, she won the solo vocal category at the prestigious Young Musicians of the Gulf competition in Bahrain. While at school, Giselle sang in a number of choirs and smaller vocal ensembles, competing regionally and nationally. She also performed at several graduations and award ceremonies, and was invited onto an Advanced Performers’ Scheme for music. After taking a year-long break from her studies and music to work full-time in Public Affairs in Brussels, Giselle is excited to be singing with ESO once again. Since November, she has restarted vocal lessons under the tutelage of mezzo-soprano Gayle Brinkerhoff, and is focusing on further developing her technique and repertoire in preparation for a recital later this year.