El Cimarron

[…]Special mention must be paid to Eugenia Arsenis, the stage director who breathes life into this story as a shot of helium fills a balloon. She exudes confidence and passion as she explains her attraction and her clarity of vision for “El Cimarron.” She has a special bond with this play. I can imagine dozens of directors being offered an opportunity to direct this piece, only to turn away and look for “Our Town.”

Directing this play takes courage, grace and a deep desire to set free the flights of fancy that best tell this story. It is certain that this piece requires exquisite discipline, but that discipline without freedom would fall flat. This is about the story of a slave, but it is also about being free from convention when you tell a story.

The astounding thing about her gentle guidance of this production is how remarkably calm the evening is. She has taken the most uncomfortable and turned it into a warm blanket to snuggle in before a raging fire. The marriage of this music and this story needs to have a steady, soft and fearless hand at the tiller, and she brings all of that.

Dave Begel

Arsenis responded with an imaginative, fitting response and guided McKeever to a powerful realization of its main and only character.

Tom Strini

The whole package bespeaks the agonies of injustice but also the strength of the human spirit that finds ways to survive. “El Cimarron” resonates long after the final bows are taken. Director Eugenia Arsenis has created a searing production that will be long remembered. Don’t miss this unusual offering.

Julie McHale
Waukesha Freeman

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Night of the Living Dead

Centre Of Contemporary Opera | Opera Week


When creating a work as monumental in size as an opera, a composer can only pray that the people who take our notes and transform them onto the stage bring as much passion and excitement to the piece as we did in creating it–that process for any composer is a scary one. Working with Eugenia Arsenis was the complete opposite experience for me. From the very beginning of our discussions about my work, I could immediately tell that she had an deep passion for not only my work but the theater in general. Her professionalism and expertise were apparent from the very beginning and her ability to work quickly and efficiently in the rehearsal process allowed for that time to be extremely productive. The end result was fantastic and she brought to my opera something that was far beyond what I expected. She also was able to create a product that was beautiful and precise while yet remaining on very tight budget. I would, without a doubt, work with Eugenia again and I very much look forward to that time.

Todd Goodman

In addition to her obvious talent and professionalism, Eugenia Arsenis brought two other qualities to our collaboration that I truly value: a creative vision informed by a passion for opera and the possibilities it offers, and a caring, generous soul. Working with her was as enjoyable an artistic adventure as I’ve been blessed to experience.

Stephen Catanzarite

In July this year I attended a reading performance of an opera presented by the Center for Contemporary Opera (CCO) in Manhattan’s Cell Theater. The opera presented was Night of the Living Dead with music by Todd Goodman and libretto by Stephen Catanzarite. Of particular interest was the stage direction by Eugenia Arsenis who produced a miracle with her work in this small venue that made every use of the available space. This included an area above the stage brilliantly utilised during the reading session. Considering the amount of space available and the number of performers in the production it is clear that Ms. Arsenis has a flair and an imagination for turning small spaces into large ones. One forgets about the space limitations and feels completely comfortable with the stage production, surprisingly the production did not give the sense that it was cramped for space. The gift Ms. Arsenis has of transforming seemingly impossibly small spaces into workable and seemingly larger ones was made clear while watching her stage direction last year. She was Dramaturg last year for two staged reading sessions also presented by CCO. In addition to the ability to transform small to large she has a gift for making her brilliant ideas relevant both with the creative use of props and the movement she directs for the performers. How she manages to do her magic is a mystery… however her magical transformations are both a joy and a wonder to behold.

Eugene W. McBride
Composer / Music copyist-engraver / Former critic for the New Music Connoisseur

I first met Eugenia while working as Director of Design and Technology at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, a position that I held for eighteen years prior to retirement in 2011. I was immediately impressed by her knowledge of opera and stage direction, and the unusual way in which she approached the field. As I designer, I quickly realised this was a director I’d really like to work with myself. Just this past month I had the pleasure of creating video projections for her production of Night of the Living Dead, a new work by Todd Goodman and Stephen Catazarite, presented by the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York. She puts an incredible amount of time and energy into her work and can juggle multiple projects/responsibilities very skilfully. Her broad background in opera, music, dance and theatre provides great depth to her work. Her directorial ideas are very innovative and she’s an eager participant in the collaborative process.

Boyd Ostroff
Former Director of Design and Technology of the Opera Company of Philadelphia


Eugenia Arsenis has uncanny theatrical instincts. When she directed scenes from my opera The Human Zoo, I barely wrote her any notes because I quickly realised she understood far better than I how to make my libretto and music come alive on stage. Directing the opera Night of the Living Dead at the tiny Cell Theater in New York, she discovered expressive resources of space that no other director I’d ever seen had found in that theater. Eugenia imaginatively directs not only the music and the libretto but the subtext, the intentions between the lines. Her blocking is bold and adventurous without being mannered; she animates the movements of multiple performers on stage like a modern Rouben Mamoulian. On whatever production she undertakes Eugenia is a vivacious, energizing presence for all who collaborate with her. Working with her is a pleasure and a privilege.

Mark N. Grant
Composer – Librettist

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Le Nozze Di Figaro

The American Novelist, Tracy Grant, wrote among others about Eugenia Arsenis’ performance:

I once heard a master coach comment that in a successful production of Figaro, the audience doesn’t laugh when the Count says “Contessa, perdono,” because, though one has little faith in the future, in the moment he truly believes it. In this production, no one laughed. […] I emerged from this Figaro production inspired to write and actually found that I had a solved a plot problem.

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Greek National Opera, April 2008

We were particularly satisfied to see all three one-act operas with Eugenia Arsenis’ innovative, thoughtful and rhythmical direction.

Odos Panos
August 2008

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Merola Grand Finale

San Francisco Opera, August 2007

Precocious show by stage director: It wasn’t just the singers who bathed themselves in glory, either. This summer’s crop included one budding stage director, Eugenia Arsenis, who staged the Finale with more subtlety and flair than I can recall ever witnessing for this event. In one excerpt after another, she created little theatrical microcosms that rescued the moment from stand-and-sing monotony without ever overshadowing the performer or distracting unduly from the music. It isn’t only on the vocal front that the future looks bright

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle

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