Lucia di Lammermoor, Florida Grand Opera

“As conceived by stage director Elise Sandell, there were glints of sanit in the scene, as Lucia stared in horror at her blood hands or crawled under the long wedding pargy table as if to escape awful reality, givine the scene unusual emotional depth, without a trace of the grotesquerie that some directors indulge in.” David Fleshler, South Florida Classical Review, 11/17

“Through the eyes of stage director Elise Sandell, leading the FGO production following Doyle’s Houston original, Lucia’s final moments were not a loss of control, but rather a reclamation of power…Still, they could not prevent Lucia’s death— a woman’s death, seemingly inevitable in opera, yet through Sandell’s vision treated with dignity and compassion.” Carly Gordon, Schmopera, 11/17

The Scorpions Sting, Lyric Unlimited

“I had the pleasure of seeing this production in one of its premiere performances, and cannot recommend it highly enough.” Aaron Hunt, Chicago Theatre Review, 10/17

La Traviata, Central City Opera

“Sandell imbued the party scenes with motion and verve, and most importantly, zeroed in on the humanity and complexity of the opera’s three central characters.” Kyle MacMillan, Opera News, 10/15

“This period production (July 11) captivated its opening-night audience, largly due to the loving care of the director, Elise Sandell, who guided her cast with smoothness and naturalness, and who introduced elements of characterization that lifted the drama above predictability and cliché.” Marc Shulgold, Opera Magazine 11/15

The Marriage of Figaro, Tulsa Opera, Inc.

"The cast is kept more or less in constant motion, yet even when things verge on the slapstick, the action is as real and believable as the things people are driven to do in the course of a farce can be.  And many in the cast seem energized by all this gamboling around." James Watts, Tulsa World 10/18/13

Susannah, Opera Idaho

"Director Elise Sandell condensed Susannah's action to fit the stage at the Egyptian Theatre, but also to close the environment around the characters. It was an effective strategy, inducing a feeling of claustrophobia surrounding Olin Blitch and the townsfolk that haunted the audience as it exited the theater." Harrison Berry, Boise Weekly 5/22/2013

Don Giovanni, Madison Opera

"They also benefited from the direction of Elise Sandell, who emphasized physical action, whether swordplay, a food fight or general threatening and shoving. Partying people acted drunk, women in distress ran the gamut from desperate to despairing, and the chorus scenes were realistically lively and engaging.  The final scene, wherein the slain Commendatore takes Giovanni up on his dinner invitation was for once what-you-see-is-what-you-get...the visual impact matched the musical climax." - Greg Hettmansberger, Madison Magazine 4/27/2013

"However one may pick at things, this is a strikingly successful production: handsomely costumed, splendidly sung and acted, and quite delightful to watch, a great opera presented with full realization of its musical and dramatic possibilities. Once again, Madison Opera has given us a production that any major opera house could offer with pride." -John W. Barker, Isthmus The Daily Page 4/27/2013

"The indulgences and emotions in Don Giovanni, driven hard by Mozart's sweeping score, feel as broad as the countryside where Lorenzo Da Ponte's story is set. But there are moments of real depth in Sandell's staging." -Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times 4/27/2013

"Once again...the staging was remarkable...It was all very imaginative and it all worked.  So, what we have is yet another first-rate performance, one well worth seeing." -William Wineke, Channel 3000 4/27/2013

New Arrivals, Houston Grand Opera (HGOco)

"The scenic design and direction choices were also brilliant and inspired. The mix of freestanding chairs arranged to resemble the interior of an airplane and two wings with turbine engines that spun were fantastic suggestions to the audience’s imagination, allowing them to visualize the literal journey taken by the refugees. The use of numbered tags pasted on the walls and scattered around the floor served as visual and ever-present reminders of the sheer multitudes of the lives lost during the reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; however, when the cast used green incarnations of these tags to simulate the act of planting and growing food the cast of refugees reclaimed the atrocity to benefit a new life, which was a sincerely affecting choice." -David Clarke, Broadway World, 6/24/12

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Cosi Fan Tutte, Portland Opera

“The opera begins with broad jokes and high misery, but soon enough, emotions become real and the hysteria stops. Elise Sandell’s staging heightened the contrast from camp to knowingness, and the singers complied skillfully.” -David Stabler, The Oregonian, 2/6/10

The Abduction from the Seraglio, Minnesota Opera

“James Robinson's scintillating staging, newly realized by director Elise Sandell, shifts the action to the 1920s and loads it aboard the westbound (Istanbul-to-Paris) Orient Express.” -Larry Fuchsberg, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, 11/4/08

Romeo and Juliet, Asheville Lyric Opera

“Both principals were excellent in their stage actions, as indeed was the whole cast under the able guest director Elise Sandell.” –Ted McIrvine, Classical Voice of North Carolina, 10/4/08

Curlew River, Central City Opera (part of a double-bill with Dido and Aeneas)

“It was a compelling, exciting night of opera.  Thanks to the inventive staging of directors Elise Sandell and Michael Shell, these two musical dramas made a lasting impression...” –Marc Shulgold, Rocky Mountain News, 8/7/08

The Refuge, Houston Grand Opera

“Overall, the production was first-class and almost generous to a fault.” –Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle, 11/11/2007

Carmen, Tulsa Opera, Inc.

“Elise Sandell’s direction is direct and unobtrusive, the intent being to tell the opera’s story as simply and clearly as possible so that the performers on stage appear not to ‘portray characters’ but to inhabit real lives…Every note, every action, rings true.” –James D. Watts, Tulsa World 2/27/2007

“If you've never seen a production of this opera, or even if you've never been to the opera, this is a wonderful one to see.”—Urban Tulsa 2/28/2007

© Elise Sandell 2017