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.
Highlighting the 2023-2024 season, Mary creates the role of Isabella Stewart Gardner in the full-length world premiere of Damien Geter & Lila Palmer’s American Apollo at Des Moines Metro Opera. She also returns to the Metropolitan Opera, covering the role of Kitty Hart in a new Ivo van Hove production of Dead Man Walking.
In recent seasons, Mary Dunleavy performed Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with North Carolina Opera, bowed as Millicent Jordan in the world premiere of Dinner at Eight with Minnesota Opera (later reprising the role at Ireland’s Wexford Festival), returned to the Metropolitan Opera 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 essayed 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.