Elise Sandell made her mainstage directorial debut with Tulsa Opera’s production of Carmen in February 2007, which was referred to in Tulsa World as “marvelous entertainment” and “a sublime experience.”  

She has worked frequently with Houston Grand Opera, and directed the world premiere performance of HGO’s newly commissioned “operatorio” The Refuge composed by Christopher Theofanidis with libretto by Leah Lax.  She also directed the world premiere of New Arrivals, a chamber opera by composer John Glover and librettist Catherine Filloux.

Elise has also worked frequently with Central City Opera directing their apprentice production of Curlew River, serving as assistant director on several of their productions, and directing for their “Opera à la Carte” scenes program and their production of The Face on the Barroom Floor. In 2015 she directed their critically acclaimed production of La Traviata.


Elise has worked extensively as an assistant director with such companies as San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Co. of Philadelphia, Dallas Opera, Utah Symphony and Opera, Central City Opera, San Diego Opera, Portland Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis, The Metropolitan Opera, and Il Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, Italy.  She has worked with many well-known directors, including Colin Graham, John Copley, Lotfi Mansouri, Paul Curran, and Ken Cazan, David Poutney, and Kevin Newbury.  Elise resides in Chicago, IL, is a graduate of the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University in St. Louis, and has served as an OPERA America Fellow.  

Elise’s production concept of Einstein on the Beach was chosen as a finalist in OPERA America’s Director-Designer Showcase, and was presented at the 2009 OPERA America conference.

She has directed at Asheville Lyric Opera: Romeo and Juliet, at Minnesota Opera: The Abduction from the Seraglio, at Tacoma Opera: Faust and The Marriage of Figaro, at Portland Opera: Così Fan Tutte, at Madison Opera: Don Giovanni, Opera Idaho: Susannah, Tulsa Opera: The Marriage of Figaro.

She has served as adjunct faculty for the North Park University Opera Program and as faculty for the Crested Butte Music Festival Opera Studio.

She often serves on the directing staff at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and has directed their youth performances of “Popcorn and Pasquale” and “The Family Barber.” She works frequently with the artists of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and will direct them in their Rising Stars Gala Concert this spring.

© Elise Sandell 2017