• Music. Theatre. Social Justice.

    The Cooperative

  • Cooperative, noun: an enterprise or organisation owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services.

    Hello & Welcome!

    The Cooperative is a young Sydney-based arts company, founded to stage productions of new, rare, and canonic works, which are impactful, relevant, and necessitate social change.

    Read more about us in our Mission Statement


  • Mission Statement


    At the Cooperative, our mission is:


    To create art to inspire change.


    We believe that:


    Our society in 2019 has unconscionable injustices; and, that we can use art to explore, confront, and challenge these injustices.


    All beings are equal and deserve love, acceptance, and respect. As such, our productions are open to everyone, and we especially welcome applications from those under-represented elsewhere.


    It is the duty of the creator / artist to challenge and highlight the wrongs of their world. As such, our productions are not “Art for Art’s Sake”. They are to be pieces of political theatre, and must either highlight, explore, confront, or challenge an issue from today’s world.


    Opera should be accessible to all, and beneficial to all. As such, our productions are open to all to attend on a pay as you are able scale, whereby patrons contribute as much or as little as they can. After each production’s expenses are covered and artists paid, we will also donate a percentage of our profits to a charity pertinent to the show’s issues.


    Above all, we believe that art can, and must, change the world.


    The Cooperative, June 2019.



  • Our People

    Who are The Cooperative?

    Menila Moineaux

    Founder | Artistic Director | Soprano

    Director - The Consul

    A young Menila wanted to become Prime Minister and overhaul Australia’s government; then she realised art could also change the world.

    Originally from Adelaide, Menila completed a Bachelor of Music Studies with First Class Honours at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, on full scholarship.


    At the Conservatorium, Menila’s performance highlights included Bernstein’s MASS at the Sydney Opera House, Haydn’s Orfeo ed Euridice under the baton of Richard Bonynge, several regional outreach tours, and four years with the Conservatorium Chamber Choir under the directorship of Dr Neil McEwan. Whilst a student, she also performed in the ensemble of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice at the NSW Art Gallery for the inaugural Spectrum Now Festival, attended the Bel Canto voice program in Munich as a grant recipient, and held a choral scholarship at St Stephens Uniting Church.


    In 2018, Menila made her professional operatic debut touring China with the Australian International Opera Company in the ensemble of Verdi’s Aida, and in 2019, she will perform Annina in Verdi’s La Traviata with Opera Lirica, as well as appearing with them in concert, reprise Aida with Woolmington Productions, and join Opera van Diemensland in the ensemble of Madama Butterfly.

    Edwin Spark

    Conductor | Répétiteur | Pianist

    Music Director - The Consul

    Edwin has two degrees from the University of Sydney, with Honours in both Musicology and Pure Mathematics. His studies, for which he was awarded the University Medal, also included oboe and conducting. He has participated in Symphony Services’ conducting programme, learning from Christopher Seaman and the Auckland Philharmonic and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, and participated in masterclasses with Sasha Mäkilä in Pärnu, Estonia and Mark Shiell in Newcastle.


    Keenly interested in the ways music contributes to theatre, Edwin has taken lessons in opera literature and conducting from Richard Gill AO. In 2018, he was a vocal collaborative fellow at the Miami Music Festival, where he was Assistant Conductor on Dido and Aeneas, Handel’s Teseo and The Medium by Menotti. For Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney, Edwin has been Assistant Musical Director since 2016. Elsewhere in Sydney, he has music directed The Yeomen of the Guard and conducted Camelot and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.


    Edwin’s first experiences with conducting were with the Bendigo Youth Choir, of which he was a long-time member and sometimes accompanist. He founded and conducted a choir for 5 years while at university, and remains convinced of the importance of community music-making, continuing to participate as conductor, accompanist, vocal coach and continuo player.

    Laura Wachsmann

    Soprano | John Sorel - The Consul

    Laura Wachsmann will be entering her third year at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2020, where she is completing a BMus Performance (Classical Voice) under the tutelage of Narelle Yeo.


    As a chorister since high school, Laura’s had performance opportunities with Sydney Chamber Choir as children’s chorus member for Orff’s Carmina Burana (2016) and Britten’s Saint Nicholas (2017) where she was featured as one of three ‘pickled boys’. As a member of Sydney Philharmonia Choirs she has also sung in the chorus of SSO programs such as Bach’s St Matthew Passion (2017), Verdi’s Requiem (2018), Brett Dean’s The Last Days of Socrates (2018) where she was featured as one of six off-stage soprano soloists, and most recently as chorus member for a semi-staged production of Britten’s Peter Grimes (2019).


    Her stage experience started with high school musicals, where her first ever role was indeed a male-intended role, playing 'Mr Banks' in Mary Poppins (2017). In 2018, she was mersister 'Allana' in The Little Mermaid (RMS). In 2019 she appeared as 'Principal Burton' in Seven Little Australians (Opera Carnivale), as well as an ensemble member for the NSW amateur premiere of Ladies in Black and the Ravel opera L’enfant et les sortilèges (Sydney Conservatorium of Music). She understudied the role of 'Yum-Yum' in The Mikado (G&S Opera Sydney), was Second Woman in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (The Other Theatre Co.) and Coridon in Handel's Acis and Galatea (Ensemble Polyphème).

    Donna Cain

    Soprano | Ensemble - The Consul

    Soprano Donna Cain has a Bachelor of Music Degree. She achieved her vocal technique by studying for 20 years with acclaimed opera singers in Europe, The UK and Australia.


    In 2015, Donna performed as soloist with a 62-piece symphony orchestra for Peace Concert, held at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.


    Donna has performed the lead roles of The Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, Marsinah in Kismet and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance as well as supporting roles Frasquita in Carmen and Siebel in Faust.
    Twice Donna performed live on radio for 2GB and in July 2017 she was interviewed about her autobiography, The Littlest Prima Donna (Balboa Press), by DJ Chris Smith.


    Donna sings for corporate clients including Parliamentary Catering (2015) and NSW Parliamentary Lions Club (2019, 2015) for events held at NSW Parliament House. Donna has sung for public events, including three Glebe Music Festivals, and in 2017, Woollahra Council’s Festa Italiana, an Italian Festival held at Paddington.


    Alexandra Nixon

    Soprano | Vera Boronel - The Consul

    From Jindera New South Wales and residing in Sydney, Alexandra Nixon completed a Bachelor of Music Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2015.


    During her studies, Alexandra performed with the Conservatorium on numerous occasions, highlights including Bernstein’s MASS at the Sydney Opera House for the Conservatorium Centenary celebrations, Haydn’s Orfeo ed Euridice under the baton of Richard Bonynge. She was a member of the Conservatorium Chamber Choir for five years, and with them performed a range of repertoire spanning from Nyman, Bach to Britten, via many world premières.


    In 2017 Alexandra graduated from the Conservatorium with a Master of Music (Performance) under the tuition of Anke Höppner-Ryan.


    In 2018 Alexandra travelled to Brandenburg to participate in the Lotte Lehmann Akademie and studied the role of Contessa from W.A Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro under Karen Armstrong.


    In 2019 Alexandra joined Rockdale Opera Company in their production of The Mikado as a chorus member and performed the role of Mirabella in their production of Johann Strauss II The Gypsy Baron. Alexandra is delighted to be performing the role of Vera Boronel in The Cooperative’s debut production.

    Jeremy Boulton

    Baritone | Police Agent - The Consul

    A former recipient of the Opera Australia Student Scholarship and graduate of the Talent Development Project, Jeremy has starred in the lead roles for productions of The Pirates of Penzance and The King & I. He was also a featured artist in the Schools Spectacular and Southern Stars.

    Jeremy has featured as a concert soloist for the Opera Australia Benevolent Fund, Sydney Conservatorium of Music (Early Music Ensemble), Argyle Orchestra (Hobart, Australia), Opera Projects Sydney, Opera South East and Fiori Musicali (Armidale, NSW). He has also featured in the ensembles of Don Giovanni and I Pagliacci for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

    Winner of both the Margaret Olive Stewart Bequest Scholarship and the PATIM Fund Scholarship, Jeremy studies with Maree Ryan AM. In the 2018 Sydney Eisteddfod, Jeremy was the Runner Up in the Intermediate Vocal Scholarship (Dame Joan Sutherland Memorial Award). Jeremy is currently reading for a Bachelor of Music (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Masterclasses include that by Jessica Pratt.

    Jeremy’s other work includes scoring for short films (Best Film, Martini Awards 2017) and stage productions of The Tempest, Blood Wedding and Ash Girl. His behind-the-scenes work includes working as Assistant Conductor to Maestro Aaron Kernaghan. He is a Certificate Member (Arranger & Copyist) of the Music Arrangers’ Guild of Australia (M.A.G.A.). Commissions include The Curious Story of the Bushy-Tailed Drop Bear (tone poem for orchestra) and a re-worked production of Dido and Aeneas (Purcell).

    In his spare time, Jeremy enjoys attending the symphony, opera, chamber music recitals, jazz and straight theatre. Of a summer, Jeremy turns into a cricket tragic.

    He also takes an overly keen interest in Australian politics and the work of cartoonist, Michael Leunig.

    Emma Fearnley

    Soprano | Assan - The Consul

    Emma is an English Teacher who moonlights as a singer.

    Since completing her AMusA in Singing, Emma has regularly appeared as a Soprano Soloist with St Peter's Choir and Artes Christi, singing such works as Faure's Requiem, Haydn's Missa Brevis, and Sebastien De Brossard's Stabat Mater.


    She has dabbled in community theatre, including playing Kate in The Pirates of Penzance and Jimmy in The Iceman Cometh, and can occasionally even be found wearing black and playing Viola or Violin.

    More often, though, you'll find her in her classroom trying to convince teenage boys that reading can be fun.

    Emma Nightingale

    Soprano | A Foreign Woman - The Consul

    Emma is a soprano from Brisbane, Australia. In 2019 Emma was selected as a Young Artist for the Pacific Opera program, with concert credits including soloist in A Viennese Gala with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Dr Nicholas Milton AM. She made her Opera Queensland principal debut as Gretel in the 2019 schools touring Hansel and Gretel and covered the roles of Novizia and La Maestra Delle Novizie in Suor Angelica (Puccini) for Pacific Opera. Emma also appeared in the ensemble for Opera Queensland’s 2019 production of A Flowering Tree (Adams).


    Across 2017 and 2018, Emma performed with Opera Queensland in Lindy Hume’s acclaimed production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore (Bridesmaid) and was an ensemble member in Britten’s Peter Grimes and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She also performed as part of the ensemble of the 2019 Opera Queensland season launch and at The Brisbane Airport “Artist in Residence” program.


    During her time as an undergraduate at the University of Queensland she performed varied roles in excerpts including: Juliette (Romeo et Juliette), Magda (La Rondine), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), First Lady (The Magic Flute). She was also awarded the Margaret Nickson prize in voice and accompaniment, and concert credits such as soloist in the Schumann Requiem for Mignon with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and University of Queensland Chorale, the Rutter Magnificat with The University of Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, and the Vivaldi Gloria with the Alexandra Chorale.


    Early 2020 will see Emma make her Sydney debut as ‘A Foreign Woman’ (The Consul) for The Cooperative .

    Tony Guyot

    Tenor | Ensemble - The Consul

    After careers in IT, natural medicine, journalism, and personal security Tony felt a need for a challenge so he retrained in the performing arts, supporting himself in the process by singing lefty social justice songs in cafes & restaurants. Today he is a director, actor, lighting designer as well as a singer. His range runs from stand up to Shakespeare and as a singer, G&S comic baritones, regular church soloist & cantor positions, soloist for an ABBA tribute group, supporting tenor roles in Verdi Opera, as chorus for a large number of groups, interspersed with the odd bass part here & there. Tony has been an advocate for social justice his entire life but craves variety.

    Elizabeth Hylton

    Mezzo Soprano | Ensemble - The Consul

    Elizabeth has completed a B/Mus and Grad/Dip in Music, majoring in Classical Voice at The Australian Institute of Music. Elizabeth enjoys all facets of singing, including performing in the genres of Opera, Operetta, Musical Theatre, Oratorio, Recitals, Classical Contemporary Fusion and some facets of Contemporary Music.

    Elizabeth is currently performing with Troupe Viva and is a regular soloist for The Christian Science Church (Dee Why). She sung as regular soloist for The Sydney Welsh Choir, in 2010 - taking part in their Tasmanian tour. She took part in Symphony of Australia as part of the Sydney Festival in January 2010 and toured Australia as part of The Ten Sopranos from July 2006 – July 2008.

    Elizabeth has performed many roles, highlights which include: Mezzo Soloist in Christmas Oratorio under Dr Steve Watson for The Beethoven Society of Australia, Alto Soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria under Philip Chu for The Australian Institute of Music, Lichas in Hercules and Ino in Semele for Opera Events. Gilbert and Sullivan roles include: Iolanthe in Iolanthe, Tessa in The Gondoliers, Kate and Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance, Cousin Hebe in HMS Pinafore, and Lady Saphir in Patience.

    Paul McLeod

    Tenor | Ensemble - The Consul

    Paul studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, UNSW, and at the Universität der Künste Berlin, and was awarded several scholarships throughout his studies.

    He has performed many roles, including 1st Gehärnischter - Die Zauberflöte (Pacific Opera),
    Triquet - Eugene Onegin (UdK Berlin), Tamino - Die Zauberflöte (UdK Berlin), Pappacoda - Eine Nacht in Venedig (Kammeroper Schloβ Rheinsberg), MacHeath - The Beggar’s Opera (Opera Australia Education), The Mayor - The Happy Prince (Opera Australia Education), Hirsch – The Great Waltz
    (Rockdale Opera) and Alwa - Auf Wiedersehen, Lulu (Rockdale Opera). Paul is also a frequent oratorio soloist, recitalist, and actor, and currently performs regularly with the Opera Australia chorus.

    Paul is passionate about social justice and human rights (as well as music of course!), and is looking forward to joining The Cooperative for The Consul.

    Tom Graham

    Singer | Ensemble - The Consul

    From a young age, Tom has loved the theatre, involving himself widely in the creative arts. Most recently, Tom performed as Max Detweiler in The Ascham School’s ‘The Sound of Music’ (2019) and Feuilly in Beyond Cinema’s ‘Les Miserables’, working alongside industry professionals Sophie Salvessani, Simon Burke and Robert McDougall.

    This is Tom’s operatic debut, and he looks forward to crafting the performance through the rehearsal process. Offstage, Tom is preparing for his HSC, and is Head Chorister of the Newington College Choir.

    Marianna Poghosyan

    Soprano | Ensemble - The Consul

    Born in Yerevan, in 2007 Marianna has graduated from French University of Armenia holding her BA in Law and Political Science. Meanwhile, in 2004 was awarded entry to IREX student exchange program to do undergraduate studies in International Relations at Utica College, NY. In 2008, she obtained her MA degree in Advanced European and International Studies from Institut Européen des Hautes Etudes Internationales (IEHEI), Nice, France.

    In 2009 she was entitled as Policy Officer to European and International Organizations.

    In 2013 her Monograph Happiness vs GDP got published in Germany by Lambert Academic Publishing.

    Apart from her formation in Political and Legal aspects since childhood she was involved with and has mastered few forms of Performing Arts such as singing, dancing and composing.

    Having graduated with excellency Musical School after Sayat-Nova piano department in 1998 later on in 2006 she has won the First Prize at Naregatsi Young Composers Award in Piano Improvisation category.

    For 12 years she sang at the internationally proclaimed best children choir Little Singers of Armenia lead by Conductor and Artistic Director Maestro Tigran Hekekyan where she has formed and developed refined and deep understanding and appreciation of spiritual, secular and contemporary music dating from 5th century till nowadays. The Choir has toured around the World performing at the most renowned concert halls, cathedrals and festivals.

    Later on Marianna has started a solo career in singing while taking private classes at Yerevan State Conservatory at Sergey Danelyan’s class. Meanwhile she has attended trainings and masterclasses with singers like Vladimir Chernov, Raina Kabaevanska, Darina Takova, Arax Mansourian etc.

    In 2009 she has been accepted to Regional Conservatory of Niceright away to the 3rd year of Voice Department.

    Since childhood Marianna has been involved and trained in various dance companies which later on has led her to have a dream of becoming ballerina.

    Her first victory was in 2008 when she has won a Grand – Prix at First Armenian Dance Olympiad in Adults Modern Solo Category with a piece danced and choreographed by her.

    Later on after enormous vigor, efforts and unimaginable will power in 2009 she made her dream to come true and got accepted to the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre of Armenia as a Featuring Actress and Ballerina. She has worked there for 8 years and even had a number of solo roles in Ballet Romeo and Juliet, Opera Carmen, Opera Sayat – Nova.

    In 2016 at the same Opera theater she has played Maria at the A. Piazzolla’s Operita Maria de Buenos Aires inviting featuring famous bandoneonist Maestro Carlos Buono.

    From 2014 – 2017 she has worked as an instructor, actress and dancer at the Yerevan National Center of Aesthetics, Small Theater where in collaboration with British Council of Armenia she was sent to London to be trained at Candoco Inclusive Dance Company. After the training with her colleagues they have formed the first inclusive dance company in Armenia.

    Currently Marianna is based in Sydney with her husband and daughter. She is an assistant of the instructor at Tamzara Armenian Folk Dance Group by AGBU as well as the vocal teacher of Sunday School Children Choir at the Armenian Apostolic Church of Holy Resurrection in Chatswood.

    She has performed at Concourse Chatswood, Avoca Beach Theater as well as at the Critical Path for Unity Space Air Project.

    Andrew Pennycuick

    Baritone | Mr. Kofner - The Consul

    Andrew is a graduate of the music theatre course at the Royal Academy of Music where he studied singing with the late Howard Milner.

    Originally from Melbourne, Andrew has performed a wide variety of roles in the thriving amateur theatre scene there including: Assassins (Balladeer), Les Miserables (Enjolras), Company (Robert), Laughter on the 23rd Floor (Milt), The Pajama Game (Sid), Carousel (Billy), Arsenic and Old Lace (Mortimer), Chess (Anatoly).

    He has performed in schools’ tours for Echelon Productions as part of Book Week and has sung in the chorus of several productions for Melbourne Opera, including Madam Butterfly, Der Freischutz and The Barber of Seville.

    A recent convert to the wonders of Gilbert & Sullivan, Andrew most recently played Sir Despard in The Ghosts of Ruddigore and Pish Tush in The Mikado, both for Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney. Andrew currently studies with Arax Mansourian.

    Kirralee Hillier

    Soprano | Anna Gomez - The Consul

    Kirralee Hillier is a recent graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium Music where she completed her Bachelor Music Performance (Classical Voice) under Narelle Yeo. Her passion for performing has led her to perform with a number of internationally acclaimed artists such as Hans Zimmer and, most recently, Patti Lupone.


    Other recent Opera credits include singing Cunagonde in Berstein’s Candide, Belinda in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Jessie in Kurt Weil’s Mahagonny Songspiel. Kirralee has also had the honour of playing the roles of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Griddlebone in Cats, Carrie in Carrie: the Musical and Pauline Hansen in the award-winning Asutralian Musical The Colour Orange. Kirralee is so excited to be performing in The Consul.


  • Productions

    The Consul

    Gian Carlo Menotti


    February 28, 29 2020 at St Stephen's Uniting Church, 197 Macquarie Street, Sydney




    We are delighted to reveal the wonderful artists onboard for our February 2020 production!


    The Consul
    Gian Carlo Menotti


    Musical Director: Edwin Spark
    Director: Menila Moineaux



    Magda Sorel - Rebecca Moret

    John Sorel - Laura Wachsmann

    John's Mother - Ellen Malone

    The Consul's Secretary - Joanna Dionis Ross

    A Police Agent - Jeremy Boulton

    Nika Magadoff - Martin Everett

    Vera Boronel - Alexandra Nixon

    Anna Gomez - Kirralee Hillier

    A Foreign Woman - Emma Nightingale

    Mr. Kofner - Andrew Pennycuick

    Assan - Emma Fearnley


    Donna Cain
    Tom Graham
    Tony Guyot
    Elizabeth Hylton
    Paul McLeod
    Marianna Poghosyan


    Still seeking creatives:

    If you are a creative (experienced or not), we’d love to have you behind the scenes ! Send us an email to thecooperativesydney@gmail.comwith your CV, and how / why you’d like to be involved.



    About The Consul:


    “To this we’ve come, that men withhold the world from men ... that man be born a stranger upon God’s earth, that he be chosen without a chance for choice, that he be hunted without a hope of refuge ...”


    Nearly seventy years after its premiere, and halfway across the world, these lines from Menotti’s The Consul still ring uncomfortably and unhappily true. With no alternative and time running out, a family seeks refuge from another country to no avail. Desperate people seek help and salvation from emotionless and immovable authorities, with devastating consequences.


    About The Cooperative:


    The Cooperative is a new Sydney based arts company, which combines dual passions for opera and for social justice. Our auditions are open to all.

    Performances aim to make opera accessible for everyone, and so entry is on a pay-as-you-feel scale.

    We believe that opera should benefit the world around us, and so will partner with charity/ies for each of our performance. For The Consul, we are delighted to partner with Australian organisations supporting and advocating for refugees and asylum seekers.



    Past Productions

    Coming soon...

  • Create With Us

    Please follow our guidelines before making a submission:


    For singers / actors / instrumentalists / conductors / dancers / performers: Please send us a short bio, and a little about why working with The Cooperative appeals to you (see our Mission Statement for more info about us!). This doesn’t have to be a polished product, and you don’t need extensive experience to work with us - in fact, we are very eager to work with young and emerging artists, as much as with seasoned professionals. We just want to know a bit about who you are!


    For directors / conductors / designers / composers / writers:

    Please send us the pitch for a project you’d love to work on with us. This needn’t be fully developed yet, but please read our Mission Statement to see if we are an appropriate company for you. In your pitch, we look for productions that are relevant, challenging, inspiring, and / or impactful upon our audience. We hold ourselves accountable to be challenged, and so if we are unsure whether your production will fit, we will be in touch for further clarification - we will not ignore or reject your pitch without written justification.


    For all: 

    Please note that, at this stage, all productions operate solely on a profit share basis. We know that artists deserve to be paid, and regret that we are as yet unable to guarantee income from involvement in one of our shows. We are applying for, and hope to secure, the funding needed to pay our artists an appropriate wage very soon, and apologise for the current situation.