For Daniel Ellis, creation begins with community, both on and off the stage. He empowers highly skilled teams of artists to infuse each work with their unique talents and perspectives. Simultaneously, Daniel highlights the specific needs or issues that are affecting the audience where the production is being conceived. He crafts each piece by taking the pulse of the creatives and patrons alike to offer everyone an experience that allows them to scrutinize and savor both the gorgeous and grotesque.
Daniel recognizes that current issues and events need an environment for exploration and expression. He collaborates with his team to ensure theater-goers feel that they are more than spectators, as if they are personally touched or a part of the actions playing out before them. He uses dramatic and musical expression as catalysts for personal and community transformation. The selection of the piece itself, from timeless classic to world premiere, is an opportunity to invite all involved to reflect on the joys and challenges of the human condition.
Daniel is a master interpreter of playwrights' and composers’ intent, connecting how stories are told to the heart of the communities in which they are performed. He understands the connection and difference between creation, direction, and interpretation. Highlighting voices that are rarely heard, and challenging everyone to listen and engage, is how he brings his own voice to the international stage.
American Stage Director, Daniel Ellis, continues to garner wide attention for developing new work with renowned artists while bringing innovative and imaginative theater and opera to wider audiences. Ellis made his European debut in 2016 directing the third revival of Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade’s production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Komische Oper in Berlin. Subsequently, he has directed revivals of the production for both Cincinnati Opera and Opera Philadelphia’s Inaugural “O” Festival as a part of their 2017 seasons. Mr. Ellis was honored to direct the European debut of Sir David McVicar’s production of Wozzeck at the Grand Théâtre de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland in 2017 and again for the Finnish National Opera as a part of their 2019 season.
In addition to opera, Daniel works extensively in theatre and musical theatre. In 2019, he directed The Elephant Man for Williams Street Repertory in Crystal Lake, IL. Praised for his “sensitive, intuitive and astutely intelligent direction” Daniel will return this year for their Main Stage productions of Always...Patsy Cline this summer and Matilda: The Musical this fall.
Ellis has directed over 10 world premieres including the Off-Broadway production of Frank Gagliano’s comedy, Dancing with Joy. Daniel joined Opera Philadelphia's Double Exposure project to present works from two new operas by composers-in-residence, David T. Little and David Hertzberg. In collaboration with the Arkansas Symphony, Daniel directed and conceived the premiere of Stay Tuned, featuring the nationally recognized vocal ensemble Five By Design. A nostalgic look at the golden age of television, it has been performed with over 40 symphony orchestras and performing arts centers throughout the United States and Canada during its five year tour, including Utah, Colorado Springs, Grand Rapids, Charlotte, Vancouver and Edmonton.
Among the numerous accolades Ellis has received for his work, his production of The Beaux’ Stratagem was awarded the 2nd place honor in the 2015 American Prize in Directing Competition and it was named the Best Overall Production by Lavender Magazine for the 2014-2015 season. His production of Griffelkin with Minnesota Opera’s Project Opera performed with over 60 children between the ages of 7-17 also won the 3rd Place award in the 2014 American Prize in Directing Competition. Daniel’s co-directed production of Scarlet Woman for Sunset Gun Productions received the Best of Fest Awards from both the Winnipeg Fringe and Edmonton International Fringe Festivals. In addition, Daniel was honored to be selected for Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist Program for their 50th and 51st seasons.
Balancing his career with his long-standing commitment to education in the arts, Daniel has received numerous commissions to develop original programming and scripts for such organizations as the Ft. Worth Symphony’s Kinderconcerts; The Philharmonic Society of Orange County’s Concerts for Fifth Graders; Swarthmore College; Monterrey Symphony, and the Palm Beach Symphony.
Ellis has worked for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dallas Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Portland Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Mill City Opera, San Diego Opera, and Minnesota Opera along side world-renowned directors including: Sir David McVicar, Graham Vick, Michael Cavanagh, Fenlon Lamb, Thaddeus Strassberger, Kevin Newbury, Renaud Doucet, Joel Ivany, Sam Helfrich and David Lefkowich. He is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and a member of AGMA.