biography

Consumptive heroine. Comedic housemaid. Manic socialite. Micro-managing spouse. They’re just some of the many stage personas of soprano Mary Dunleavy, who continues to win critical and popular acclaim for her dramatic versatility and musicianship with leading opera companies and orchestras around the world.

 photo: Elisa Haber

photo: Elisa Haber

Mary’s 2017-2018 season features several role debuts, led by Alice Ford in Falstaff for return engagements with Garsington Opera and Opera Omaha; the Stepmother in the North American premiere of Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella at Opera San Jose and Meni in Thomas Adès The Exterminating Angel at the Metropolitan Opera. 

Her 2016-2017 season also featured an acclaimed debut as Millicent Jordan in the world premiere of William Bolcom’s Dinner at Eight at Minnesota Opera; her first Despina in Così fan tutte with Portland Opera and a debut with Opera Omaha as Musetta in La bohème. Mary also sang concerts with the St. Bart’s Music Festival under the baton of Steven Mercurio and a solo recital at the University of Texas with Kelly Kuo accompanying. 

For two decades, Mary has been best known for her Violetta in La traviata, a role she has sung with companies including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, The Nederlandse Philharmonisch Orkest, Glimmerglass Opera, New York City Opera, Atlanta Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and others.

In recent years, Mary has added more lyric roles to her repertoire including her critically-acclaimed Christine Storch in Intermezzo with Garsington Opera and NYCO; Mimi in La bohème with Fort Worth Opera; Desdemona in Otello with Nashville Opera and Cio-Cio-San with Chautauqua Opera. 

These are in addition to current Mozart roles including Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (Metropolitan Opera, Portland Opera, Boston Lyric Opera); Donna Anna (Michigan Opera Theatre) and Donna Elvira (Portland Opera) in Don Giovanni, and Countess Almaviva from Le nozze di Figaro (Opera Philadelphia). Mary’s current French repertoire includes Micaëla in Carmen (Metropolitan Opera, Netherlands Opera, The Dallas Opera, Pittsburgh Opera), Marguerite in Faust (Opéra de Montréal, Atlanta Opera, North Carolina Opera, Opera Birmingham), the title role in Thaïs (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis), and Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, a role she sang with the other Hoffmann heroines at the Met, The Dallas Opera and Connecticut Opera.

 photo: Opéra de Montréal

photo: Opéra de Montréal

 Photo: Glimmerglass Opera

Photo: Glimmerglass Opera

Mary’s early career was notable for her Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte, performed with the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Berlin State Opera, Netherlands Opera, Aix-en-Provence, Opera de Montréal and NYCO. Other Mozart roles then included Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (San Francisco Opera, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Cincinnati May Festival, Washington National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Boston Lyric Opera and NYCO); Aspasia in Mitridate, re di Ponto (La Monnaie); Giunia in Lucio Silla (Netherlands Opera); Madame Herz in Der Schauspieldirektor (Opéra de Monte Carlo), and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro (Portland Opera, Knoxville Opera). 

Gilda from Rigoletto was another staple of Mary’s early career, with performances at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Opera Pacific. She won accolades early in her career as the Infanta in Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg at Spoleto Festival USA and Rome Opera, a role she reprised fifteen years later to critical acclaim with James Conlon at The Philadelphia Orchestra and Los Angeles Opera (available on DVD from Arthaus). Bel canto roles from her early career included the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor (Opéra de Montréal, Connecticut Opera, Knoxville Opera); Norina in Don Pasquale (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Virginia Opera); Adina in L’elisir d’amore (Teatro di San Carlo, Portland Opera); Amina in La Sonnambula (Bilbao), and Giulietta in I Capuletti ed I Montecchi and Countess Folleville in Il viaggio a Reims at NYCO. Other earlier performances included Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles (Seattle Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opera Colorado, NYCO); Héro in Béatrice et Bénédict (Netherlands Opera); Ophélie in Hamlet (Gran Teatre del Liceu); Adele in Die Fledermuas (Opéra National de Paris); Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (Opera Philadelphia); Regina in Mathis der Maler with NYCO, and Juliette in Roméo et Juliette and Baby Doe in The Ballad of Baby Doe with Connecticut Opera.

Mary’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 San Diego 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.