The swap'ra team

Sophie Gilpin

Stage Director

Sophie Gilpin is a stage director working in both opera and theatre. She is Artistic Director of HeadFirst Productions and established A Festival of Sex, Love and Death in 2017; a multi-arts festival for which 54% of the creative teams were female.  She has directed productions for companies including Hampstead Garden Opera, Riverside Opera/Rose Theatre Kingston, Celebrate Voice, and Re:Sound Music Theatre/Oxford Lieder Festival, as well as working for Opera North, Opera up Close and Iford Arts.  Sophie is passionate about engendering more inclusive working practices where women in senior leadership positions are no longer the exception to the rule.

Ella Marchment

Stage Director

Ella Marchment is an award-winning director and artistic director who has worked across Russia, Scandinavia and the EU on over 120 productions with companies and houses including The Mariinsky, Wexford Festival, Buxton International Festival, Bury Court Opera, The Royal Opera House, The International Opera Awards and Copenhagen Opera Festival. She has been hailed in reviews as ‘the leading artist of a generation’, and has also founded and led four International opera and theatre organisations (Helios Collective, Constella OperaBallet, Theatre N16, and the Danish Arts Fest). This year her directing credits include The International Opera Awards 2018 Ceremony, Magic Flute in Copenhagen, and Madigan at The Danish Arts Fest.

Jessica Cottis


Jessica Cottis maintains a busy guest conducting schedule worldwide, working with orchestras including the LSO, LA Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Opera House, Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and at the BBC Proms. An outspoken advocate of the importance of music in today’s society, Jessica is committed to helping create a more inclusive working environment within the opera industry, with particular interest in developing opportunities for the younger generation of conductors and composers.

Anna Patalong

Soprano, mother of one

Anna Patalong (soprano) studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is laureate of the Francisco Vinas and Stanislaw Moniuszko competitions. She performs regularly in opera houses across the UK and Europe and is fast gaining a reputation across Europe for her "warm and smooth-toned soprano" (Telegraph). Anna initiated SWAP’ra in order to celebrate the achievements of women in our industry in 2018 and to discover creative ways in which areas may be improved for the future.

Madeleine Pierard

Soprano, mother of two

Lyric soprano Madeleine Pierard was a Jette Parker Young Artist with The Royal Opera, Covent Garden where she has sung numerous roles and recitals. A native New Zealander, she studied at the Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio, garnering numerous awards and now performs worldwide in a huge variety of roles. Recent Highlights include the title role in Louise and Cecilio in Lucio Silla for Buxton Festival, Rufus Wainwright's 'Prima Donna' and performances of Britten's Rape of Lucretia with Muhai Tang in Tianjin, China. Madeleine has always been passionate about championing women and parents in this beloved industry.

Kitty Whately

Mezzo-soprano, mother of two

Kitty Whately (mezzo soprano) trained at the RCM and GSMD. She was winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Award and the Royal Overseas League, and a BBC New Generation Artist. She performs regularly for the main opera companies and recital festivals in the UK and abroad. She has been a mother for her entire professional career, and feels that there are a great many opportunities for positive change within the opera industry. She is keen to explore ways in which the opera world could be more inclusive of women, and accessible to people with dependents.


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