Meet the Judges: Cori Ellison

Cori Ellison, a leading creative figure in the opera world, is staff Dramaturg at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, as well as a member of the Vocal Arts faculty at The Juilliard School, where she teaches History of Singing.  She served as staff Dramaturg at New York City Opera from 1997-2010, and this past February coproduced an acclaimed City Opera 70th-Anniversary Concert at the City Center Theater.  She has also served as dramaturg for Francesca Zambello’s production of the Ring Cycle at Washington National Opera, Opera Boston’s production of Shostakovich’s The Nose, and in 2006, was dramaturg for a triple bill of Offenbach operettas at the Bard Summerscape Festival.  This spring, she curated a four-concert avant-garde vocal series at the New Museum.  In 2005, she co-curated and narrated soprano Elizabeth Futral’s program “Handel at Home”, the closing event of the annual Chicago Humanities Festival, and she curated the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s opening concert, an all-Beethoven gala.  

Ms. Ellison has been a core faculty member at American Lyric Theatre since its founding in 2007, teaching operatic dramaturgy in its Composer Librettist Development Program and mentoring its artists.  She began her intense involvement in the development of contemporary opera through New York City Opera’s annual VOX American Opera Showcase, where she helped select the featured pieces and worked with individual composers and librettists.  In fall 2009, she co-founded and led New York City Opera’s ‘Words First’ program for the development of opera librettists.  In June 2009, she was the first opera dramaturg invited to participate in the inaugural Yale Institute for Music Theatre.  In addition, she is a sought-after consultant to numerous composers, librettists, commissioners (including Opera Philadelphia and Glyndebourne), and grant-makers.   

Pursuing her interest in nurturing young American singers, Ms. Ellison recently served on the faculties of the Ravinia Steans Music Institute Program for Singers and the Crested Butte Festival Young Artist Program, and has taught master classes for young singers at venues including Glyndebourne, Mannes The New School of Music, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance program, Boston University, Boston Conservatory, Vassar College, DePaul University, Underworld Productions Opera, Phoenicia Festival of the Voice, and Opera Singers Initiative.  She has also led seminars for the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artists Program, has served as judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, and coaches singers privately.  At New York University, she has co-taught seminars on Madama Butterfly, Don Giovanni, and Giulio Cesare.     

Ms. Ellison’s English singing translation of Hansel and Gretel, commissioned and premiered by New York City Opera, has also been performed (in a general-use adaptation recently published by Schott) by companies including Houston Grand Opera, Atlanta Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Kentucky Opera, Berkshire Opera, Opera Roanoke, and Indiana University Opera Theater.  Her singing translation of Shostakovich’s musical comedy Cheryomushki (Cherry Tree Towers) premiered at the Bard Summerscape Festival in August 2004, and her singing translation of Spontini’s La vestale, commissioned by English National Opera, premiered there in April 2002.

Ms. Ellison has presented talks and served on and moderated panels and symposia for Glyndebourne, New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Cincinnati Opera, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the San Francisco Opera Guild, American Lyric Theater, Carnegie Hall, Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Southwest, Opera Boston, Glimmerglass Opera, Tulsa Opera, Bard Summerscape Festival, Opera Orchestra of New York, Opera Quarterly, Great Performers at Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart Festival, Berkshire Choral Festival, American Opera Projects, Center For Contemporary Opera, Schomburg Center for Black Culture, Paley Center for Media, Harvard’s American Repertory Theatre, Indiana University, the New School, Opera Index, the Guggenheim Museum’s Works and Process series, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Japan Societies of New York and Boston, the Wagner Societies of New York, Chicago, Washington, and Northern California, and the American Institute for Verdi Studies, as well as at The Royal Opera House/Covent Garden, the Covent Garden Festival, the Newbury Festival, Ireland’s Wexford Festival, and Switzerland’s Verbier Festival,  She has been guest lecturer for Celebrity Cruises, under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution, and on Cunard’s Queen Mary II, under the auspices of Oxford University.  She has also served on the faculty of The Juilliard School’s Evening Division, was Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music at New York University’s School of Continuing Education, and has often taught for the Explore New York Elderhostel program.  

Ms. Ellison is part of the team that launched the Metropolitan Opera’s pioneering simultaneous translation system, Met Titles, and has also authored opera supertitles for companies including New York City Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Washington National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Orchestra of New York, Florida Grand Opera, Virginia Opera, Berkshire Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Utah Opera, Odyssey Opera, Eos Orchestra, The Juilliard School, Indiana University, Mannes Opera, Midamerica Productions, Boston Baroque, Center For Contemporary Opera, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Marilyn Horne Foundation, PBS, and WGBH-TV.

Ms. Ellison regularly appears as a commentator and Opera Quiz panelist on the Metropolitan Opera’s radio broadcasts, and has been guest commentator on WNYC’s “Soundcheck” and “The Tristan Mysteries”, WQXR’s “First Hearing”, and other radio programs.  She has contributed articles to publications including the New York Times, The Guardian, Opera News, Gramophone, BBC Music, and Ms, and to books including The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, The Compleat Mozart, and the Metropolitan Opera Guide to Opera on Video.  She has also been a contributing writer for PBS’s Metropolitan Opera Presents TV series.

Since 1998, Ms. Ellison has specialized in the study of Finnish music and musicians, contributing articles on Kaija Saariaho and her operas L’amour de loin and Emilie, the Kalevala’s impact on Finnish music, Jorma Panula and the Sibelius Academy, Monica Groop, Osmo Vänskä, and the Savonlinna Festival to the New York Times, as well as a brief history of classical music in Finland and a profile of Saariaho to the Scandinavian Review.  She has also served as a member of the board of directors of the Sibelius Society in the United States, Ltd.