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American soprano Mary Dunleavy was born in Connecticut and raised in New Jersey. She received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, and 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.

Her most recent and upcoming projects include engagements with the Metropolitan Opera, joining the roster for productions of Elektra, La traviata and Don Giovanni, her debut with Des Moines Metro Opera, as Isabella Stewart Gardner in Damien Geter’s new opera American Apollo, and her return to North Carolina Opera as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. During the COVID-19 impacted 2020-2021 season, Ms. Dunleavy’s planned engagements the role of Rose in Tobias Picker’s Awakenings with Tulsa Opera, which was unfortunately cancelled.

In previous seasons, she performed the role of Millicent Jordan in the world premiere performances of Dinner at Eight with Minnesota Opera, reprising the role at Ireland’s Wexford Festival. She bowed on the Metropolitan Opera stage as Meni in The Exterminating Angel, sang her first Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly at Chautauqua Opera, and appeared as The Stepmother in Alma Deutscher’s acclaimed Cinderella with Opera San Jose. At Opera Omaha, she sang her first career performances of Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, before singing the role later the same year in a return to Garsington Opera.

During a multi-decade collaboration with the Metropolitan Opera, she has appeared in a number of roles including Gilda in Rigoletto, Olympia, Antonia, and Stella in Les contes d'Hoffmann, Micaëla in Carmen, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and Musetta in La bohème. Engagements elsewhere include her role debut as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Despina in Così fan tutte and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus at Portland Opera; Violetta in La traviata and Marguerite in Faust with Atlanta Opera; Desdemona in Otello with Nashville Opera; Mimì in La bohème with Fort Worth Opera; Marguerite in a new production of Faust with Opéra de Montréal, and Christine in New York City Opera's revival of Strauss' Intermezzo, later singing the role at Garsington Opera. 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 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, and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Philadelphia.

Other appearances include: Aspasia in Mitridate, re di Ponto at Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie; Micaëla in Carmen with 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 and Micaëla in Carmen at The Dallas Opera (where she won the 2006 Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year Award); Héro in Béatrice et Bénédict in Amsterdam; Adele in Die Fledermaus with Opéra National de Paris; 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.

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 the Atlanta 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. 8 with 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 the Orchestre 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.

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.”

- Opernwelt

“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.”

- Opera News

“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.”

- The Independent

“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.”

Opera Today

 

“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.”
- Klassik.com

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.”
- Mike Huebner, Birmingham News

National Center for Performing Arts, Beijing – La traviata

"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.”

China Daily

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.”
- Opera News

 

"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.”
- Classics Today

 

"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.”
- Denver Post

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.”
- Opera News

 

"Soprano Mary Dunleavy turned in a crystalline, radiant performance as Donna Clara, the Infanta.”
- Musical America

 

"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.”
- artssf.com

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

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Mary Dunleavy

SOPRANO