During an international career that has brought her to many of the world’s most important opera houses, Mary Dunleavy has affirmed her position as one of America’s leading singing actresses. Recently, the soprano made her critically acclaimed UK debut as Christine in Intermezzo with Garsington Opera, which The Times of London praised as “a graceful and subtle performance that any Straussian should relish.”
During the COVID-19 impacted 2020-2021 season, Mary Dunleavy’s planned engagements include her return to the roster of the Metroplitan Opera, covering Musetta in La bohème and Kitty Hart in Dead Man Walking (cancelled), as well as Rose in Tobias Picker’s Awakenings with Tulsa Opera (cancelled).
Ms. Dunleavy’s 2019-2020 COVID-affected season included her planned return to Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus (cancelled), and a solo recital with Union Avenue Opera. She also rejoined the Metropolitan Opera covering Violetta in La traviata. During the 2018-2019 season, Ms. Dunleavy returned to the role of Millicent Jordan in the Wexford Festival’s performances of Dinner at Eight, and with the Metropolitan Opera she covered Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and Violetta in La traviata.
Ms. Dunleavy’s 2017-2018 season included appearing with the Metropolitan Opera as Meni in The Exterminating Angel (also covering the role of Lucia), returning later in the season to cover performances of Musetta in La bohème. She debuted with Opera San Jose as the Stepmother in Alma Deutscher’s critically acclaimed Cinderella, and with Opera Omaha, singing her first career performances of Alice Ford in Falstaff, a role which also served as her return to Garsington Opera during the summer of 2018.
The previous season saw Ms. Dunleavy return to the Metropolitan Opera for productions of La bohème and Don Giovanni, make her company debut with Opera Omaha as Musetta, and she created the role of Millicent Jordan in the world premiere of Dinner at Eight with Minnesota Opera. She also made her return to her alma matter for a recital with Kelly Kuo at the University of Texas at Austin, and concluded the season in a return to Portland Opera for her role debut as Despina in Così fan tutte.
During the 2015-2016 season the soprano returned to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera to perform Musetta in their production of La bohème, and appeared in concert with the Oregon Mozart Players. The 2014-2015 season saw Ms. Dunleavy return to Portland Opera as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, and to the Metropolitan Opera for their productions of La bohéme, Carmen, Don Giovanni, and The Rake’s Progress.
In the 2013-2014 season, Ms. Dunleavy’s engagements included: the Dallas Opera as Micaëla in Carmen; Atlanta Opera for Marguerite in Faust; Nashville Opera for her role debut as Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello, and a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Pamina in The Magic Flute and for its production of L’elisir d’amore. She closed the season making her role and company debut with Chautauqua Opera as Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly.
Past seaons include appearances with the Metropolitan Opera for a new production of Don Giovanni; her role debut as Donna Elvira in Christopher Alden’s production of Don Giovanni at Portland Opera; Violetta in La traviata for her company debut with Atlanta Opera; Mimì in La bohème with Fort Worth Opera; Marguerite in a new production of Faust with Opéra de Montréal, Christine, in New York City Opera’s revival of Strauss’ Intermezzo; and her first Marguerite in Faust with Opera Birmingham, followed by further performances of the role in North Carolina Opera’s inaugural season. Other engagements include Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at San Francisco Opera, Gilda in Rigoletto opposite Richard Paul Fink and David Pomeroy at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Violetta in La traviata under Lorin Maazel at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. Additionally, Ms. Dunleavy appears in the 2012 Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln, singing music from Gounod’s Faust.
Her gallery of operatic heroines is led by her signature role, Violetta in La traviata, seen thus far in over 60 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, Glimmerglass Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest, and others. Additional career highlights include Gilda in Rigoletto at the Met, San Francisco Opera, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, and Opera Pacific; the Infanta in Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg with Los Angeles Opera, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, and the Spoleto Festival USA; Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Cincinnati May Festival, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, NYCO, Opera Philadelphia, and Boston Lyric Opera; Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Philadelphia; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Michigan Opera Theatre; Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with the Met, Boston Lyric Opera, and Portland Opera; Giunia in Lucio Silla at De Nederlandse Opera.
Other appearances include: Aspasia in Mitridate, re di Ponto at Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie; Micaëla in Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera, De Nederlandse Opera and Pittsburgh Opera; Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles with Seattle Opera, Opera Colorado, NYCO, Opera Philadelphia, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; Ophélie in Hamlet at Gran Teatre del Liceu; the title role in Thaïs with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; all four heroines in Les contes d’Hoffmann at The Dallas Opera (where she won the 2006 Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year Award); Olympia, Antonia, and Stella in Les contes d’Hoffmann at the Met; Héro in Béatrice et Bénédict in Amsterdam; Adele in Die Fledermaus with Opéra National de Paris; Musetta in La bohème with the Met in the Parks; Adina in L’elisir d’amore at Naples’ Teatro di San Carlo and Portland Opera; Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi at NYCO; Amina in La Sonnambula in Bilbao; and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor with L’Opéra de Montréal and Connecticut Opera.
Her Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte, a role which she retired in 2002 after 84 performances, was heard at the Met, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, Houston Grand Opera, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Amsterdam, Aix-en-Provence, Montréal and NYCO.
Mary Dunleavy’s orchestral appearances have included: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with theAtlanta Symphony, (available on Telarc, Donald Runnicles conducting), the Teatro Municipal de Santiago, the St. Louis Symphony, the Austin Symphony Orchestra and others; Mozart concert arias with the St. Louis Symphony under the late Hans Vonk and Handel’s Messiah under David Robertson; Britten’s Spring Symphony with the San Francisco Symphony under Robert Spano;Carmina Burana with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Charles Dutoit; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8with the New York Choral Society, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta; at the Lanaudière Festival singing a selection of arias with theOrchestre symphonique de Montréal under Jacques Lacombe broadcast on the CBC, and then later a concert of duets with Jennifer Larmore and Les Violins du Roy; and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Leonard Slatkin at the Hollywood Bowl singing Mozart arias in Amadeus Live, a performance of scenes from the Peter Shaffer play.
Ms. Dunleavy was born in Connecticut and raised in New Jersey. She received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, where she studied with Kathleen Kaun. She earned her Master of Music degree at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied with Mignon Dunn. In 2006, she was named one of four Outstanding Young Texas Exes by the University.
Mary Dunleavy works with a variety of leading teachers and coaches, including Nikki Li Hartleip, Rita Shane, Renata Scotto, Hank Hammett, Thomas Muraco, Dale Dietert, William Tracy, and Ron Raines, among others. She is also a frequent guest teacher at master classes at universities, conservatories, and young artist programs in the U.S.
Wexford Festival Opera – Dinner at Eight
The prize goes to the American soprano Mary Dunleavy: her Millecent, seductive, calculating, dreamy, hysterical and vocally dazzling “.
Nicolas Blanmount, Opéra Magazine
Garsington Opera – Falstaff
Dunleavy, a former Nannetta and now an elegant Alice, anchored all her scenes with her resonant, gleaming soprano.”
Amanda Holloway, Opera
Opera Omaha – Falstaff
Soprano Mary Dunleavy returned to Opera Omaha to play Alice Ford. Her athletic grace on stage, vivacious voice and palpable wit were the highlight of the evening.”
Drew Neneman, Omaha World-Herald
Minnesota Opera – Dinner at Eight
As Millicent Jordan, the socialite attempting to organize a perfect dinner party, Mary Dunleavy fielded a strong, flexible soprano and the ability to suggest the mental febrility the character suffered as the best-laid plans crumbled around her.”
Terry Blain, Opera (UK)
Garsington Opera – Intermezzo
These passionate outpourings also reveal that there is more to the hectoring, insecure Christine than you think and in Mary Dunleavy’s sympathetic portrayal there’s a dash of several better-known Strauss heroines: possessive, assertive women either delivering redemption or loudly demanding it. This is a graceful and subtle performance that any Straussian should relish.”
The Times of London
“Using a gentle, luminous soprano, grace and sophistication, Mary Dunleavy masterfully shouldered the immensely difficult role of Christine Storch.”
“Mary Dunleavy sang the impossibly arduous part of Christine Storch (alias Pauline de Ahna Strauss), a role vast in size and almost entirely conceived in parlando mode. Her light, bright soprano, elegant manner and canny acting skills brought her considerable success in the assignment.”
“Dunleavy dominates the stage every moment of the evening, drawing us all into her moods of exasperation, fury, nostalgia, and tenderness, and enchanting us with the beauty of her sound.”
“Mary Dunleavy’s vocal security was matched to a subtle reading of Christine’s character that extracted her from the realm of patronising, even misogynistic caricature: no mere ‘shrew’ here, but a credible woman of strengths, weaknesses, above all agency.”
“The character’s moments of sorrow and reflection came across as deeply touching, however, and she sang tirelessly in impressively rich, liquid tone.”
Hugo Shirley, Opera Magazine
Wolf Trap Opera – 40th Anniversary Gala
Then there was Mary Dunleavy, whose shining, secure beauty of voice in Verdi’s “La traviata” evoked Golden Age greatness.”
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post
North Carolina Opera – Faust
Although Faust is the one who sells his soul to the devil, his object of desire, Marguerite, gets the widest emotional range, which Mary Dunleavy expertly explored. Her warm, attractive soprano was capable of great delicacy or soaring power, as needed.”
Roy C. Dicks, The News & Observer
Los Angeles Opera – Der Zwerg (DVD Review)
Only Mary Dunleavy seems to be free from such musical uncertainties. Sovereign and with crystal-clear coloratura soprano, [she takes] on the role of cold-hearted Infanta.”
New York City Opera – Intermezzo
In the soprano Mary Dunleavy City Opera has an ideal Christine: one with appealing tone, ample volume and range, sufficient endurance to meet the role’s demands and an ability to shift on a dime from doting to needling, admirable to near atrocious. City Opera is presenting the work in Andrew Porter’s English translation; Ms. Dunleavy’s enunciation and projection make the projected titles nearly unnecessary.”
Steve Smith, New York City Times
Ms. Dunleavy’s penetrating, silvery soprano and slight dizzy demeanor brought out Christine’s exasperating unreasonableness, yet the warmth in her portrayal demonstrated the character’s deeper feelings as she deftly balanced the comedy with a more nuanced psychological undercurrent.”
Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal
Any performance of “Intermezzo” must depend to a large extent on the soprano playing the role of Christine, since she is on-stage virtually throughout. City Opera is fortunate in having Mary Dunleavy in the part. Her vibrant voice and lively acting give a warm and sympathetic quality to a character that could easily be seen as merely vain and tiresome.”
Mike Silverman, Associated Press
In the huge dramatic soprano role of spousezilla Christine, Mary Dunleavy spun out her light coloratura, saving its full gleam for the radiant final pages of each act. She wisely underplayed the drama queen, striking a note of slightly absurd chic in a series of fussy art-deco frocks designed by Martha Mann.”
James Jorden, New York Post
Opera Birmingham – Faust
Looking strikingly like a young Kim Novak, Dunleavy brought to the opera’s heroine a combination of unsuspecting innocence and strength of conviction as she rode a wave of emotions from elation to deep sorrow. But as fine as her dramatics were, they were eclipsed by her pearly soprano, which radiated through the Wright Center with brilliance and might.”
Michael Huebner, Birmingham News
National Center for Performing Arts, Beijing – La traviata
American soprano Mary Dunleavy has a lovely voice and as Violetta she delivers impassioned singing that ranges from flamboyance in Act I to pathos in Act III. Occasionally her voice gets so soft it practically demands you be all ears.”
Lyric Opera of Kansas City – Rigoletto
Besides sparkling technique and polished coloratura, Dunleavy possesses a pearly, soft-edged voice that makes her ideal for portraying an innocent such as Gilda. As the opera progressed, she brought to bear darker vocal timbres and added emotional heft, effectively conveying the evolution of this ultimately tortured woman who cannot bring herself to accept revenge on the Duke.”
Kyle MacMillan, Opera News Online
There’s a fine line between excellent and amazing, and on Saturday night, soprano Mary Dunleavy definitely fell into the latter category. In the Lyric Opera’s sturdy production of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” Dunleavy was exceptional as Gilda, the cloistered daughter of a revenge-minded court jester. Her solos were mesmerizing, and her intricate duets with bass-baritone Richard Paul Fink and tenor David Pomeroy occasionally bordered on the transcendent…Fink and Dunleavy delivered musically excellent performances that qualified as good acting by any measure. They both found moments of subtlety, played nuanced emotions and reflected a level of complexity not necessarily found in the material…but ultimately it is Dunleavy, whose rippling arias seem to flow so effortlessly, who sends theatergoers home with indelible images — and sounds — in their heads.”
Robert Trussell, Kansas City Star
Glimmerglass Opera – La traviata
The standout portrayal of the season was Mary Dunleavy’s world-class Violetta. Her effortless, nuanced acting and flawless singing, together with Jonathan Miller’s blessedly cliché-free direction, made this Traviata a sublimely memorable experience.”
Among all the Violettas of my experience, only Patricia Brooks, Nelly Miricioiu and Dunleavy have seemed to inhabit Violetta’s every utterance rather than to “present” their reading of the famous role.”
Boston Music Intelligencer
Dunleavy’s mastery of the complex four-section aria, ‘è strano!,”’ leading to ‘Sempre libera,’ was so beautifully nuanced, so perfectly articulated, and so brilliant, that it rivaled any living soprano’s work.”
Berkshire Review for the Arts
The wonderful, gorgeously sung Violetta of Mary Dunleavy, whose multi-colored voice and intelligent reading of the text are masterly; indeed, a world class performance.”
The one must-see is Verdi’s Traviata, the work of the insightful and inventive director Jonathan Miller, who draws humane and natural portrayals from an engaging cast, headed by the soprano Mary Dunleavy, who gives a sensitive, vocally formidable and textured portrayal of Violetta.”
The New York Times
Opera Colorado – Les pêcheurs de perles
Dunleavy was totally in command, with perfect intonation, impeccable coloratura and a measured performing style that fully conveyed the character’s emotions. Her spellbinding Act 2 aria drew a chorus of cheers.”
Los Angeles Opera – Der Zwerg
The production of Der Zwerg was dominated by two especially powerful performances…Rodrick Dixon was partnered by Mary Dunleavy as Donna Clara, the Infanta, whose cool, dismissive beauty was disturbingly enhanced by the unbroken, smooth quality of her voice.”
Soprano Mary Dunleavy turned in a crystalline, radiant performance as Donna Clara, the Infanta.”
Any lesser Dwarf interpreter here would have deflected the major kudos to the radiant soprano Mary Dunleavy, a poised blonde reminiscent of the late Beverly Sills in her prime.”
San Francisco Opera – Rigoletto
Mary Dunleavy’s Gilda was pure magic. She captured the essence of her character from the moment she set foot on the stage. Her portrayal was glorious and she was totally convincing as the naive, protected young girl both in voice and movement.”
The Opera Critic
Dunleavy and Gavanelli commanded the house. Rigoletto cradled her in his arms, as they yearned their way through ‘Lassu — in cielo’ in hushed voices dying into each other. It was terrible. It was exquisite. The curtain fell before anyone could take in all the dreadful beauty Verdi created and these two singers found.”
San Francisco Chronicle
To purchase the DVD of Der Zwerg from Los Angeles Opera, featuring Mary Dunleavy, please follow the below link:
DVD – Der Zwerg, Los Angeles Opera