Meet the Judges Districts 2015

Mary Dunleavy

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.
During the 2014-2015 season, the soprano returns to Portland Opera as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, and makes her UK debut as Christine in performances of Strauss’ Intermezzo with Garsington Opera. Additionally, she returns to the Metropolitan Opera for several productions, covering the roles of Mimì, Musetta, Micaëla, Donna Anna, and Anne Trulove.
Last 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.
The 2012-2013 season included appearances with the Metropolitan Opera, to cover Donna Anna in 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; and Mimì in La bohème with Fort Worth Opera. In the 2011-2012 season, the soprano performed Marguerite in a new production of Faust with Opéra de Montréal, and returned to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera, to cover Donna Anna in a new production of Don Giovanni. Additionally, Mary Dunleavy appears in the 2012 Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln, singing music from Gounod’s Faust.
Ms. Dunleavy’s 2010-11 season included the lead soprano, Christine, in New York City Opera’s revival of Strauss’ Intermezzo, the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Richmond Symphony, a gala concert with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and her first Marguerite in Faust with Opera Birmingham, followed by further performances of the role in North Carolina Opera’s inaugural season.
In the 2009-2010 season, Ms. Dunleavy performed Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at San Francisco Opera, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the San Diego Symphony, 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.
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 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. 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 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.
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 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.

John Hancock

Mr. Hancock, baritone, made his Metropolitan Opera debut as le Gendarme in Les Mamelles de Tirésias under the baton of James Levine. He has appeared in a dozen roles with the company, including: Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Falke in Die Fledermaus, Albert in Werther, Brétigny in Manon, Capulet in Roméo et Juliette, and both Marcello and Schaunard in La bohème. At San Francisco Opera, he has sung the roles of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Yeletsky in Queen of Spades, and Lescaut in Manon Lescaut. 
Highlights of recent seasons include the title role in Philip Glass’s Kepler at Spoleto Festival USA, Rorem’s Our Town at Colorado’s Central City Opera, and Pascal Dusapin’s Faustus, the Last Night at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Now in his tenth season with the Bard Music Festival, Mr. Hancock has enjoyed frequent collaborations with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra, including: Othmar Schoeck’s Nachhall and Lebendig Begraben, Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony, Shreker’s Der Ferne Klang, and Stravinksy’s Abraham and Isaac. Mr. Hancock’s extensive discography includes the release in September 2013 of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with Edo de Waart and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic.


Gayletha Nichols

Ms. Nichols joined the artistic staff of the Metropolitan Opera in the fall of 2000 as Executive Director of the National Council Auditions. She brought to the Met two decades of experience as a singer, teacher and career advisor. From 1992-2000, she was Director of Houston Opera Studio, the young artist development program at Houston Grand Opera, where she created and individualized the training both for singers and pianists. Ms. Nichols auditions hundreds of singers across North America every year and in her travels addresses many universities, conservatories, and festivals on developing the next generation of opera singers. She is a frequent adjudicator in national and international competitions and consults for other young artist programs across the country.