Leon Major with Michael Laing


Leon Major’s 2006 production of The Barber of Seville was a highlight of 2006 season at Glimmerglass opera festival.  He has been Artistic Advisor to Cleveland Opera and Artistic Director of Boston Lyric Opera (from 1998 – 2003). He has directed opera and theatre throughout the Americas and Europe for companies that include: New York City Opera, San Diego Opera, Vancouver Opera, Teatro Municipale (Rio di Janeiro), The Opera Company of Philadelphia, Florentine Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Washington Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, the Canadian Opera Company and The Opera Festival of New Jersey.  Productions have included: Macbeth, Falstaff, Intermezzo, Don Pasquale, The Aspern Papers, Il Barbiere di Sevilla, L’Italiana in Algeri, The Merry Wives of Windsor; Intermezzo, Salome, Don Carlos, Resurrection, Aida, Don Giovanni, Salome (co-produced with Glimmerglass Opera), Roméo et JulietteLa traviata, L’elisir d’amore and Carmen (on the Boston Common).

Amadeus Press World 2011

The Empty Voice

Acting Opera

For opera lovers, theatre-goers, teachers and students of creative writing, and anyone interested in literature and dramatic structure…

Opera is not only voice, says Leon Major. “Composers write complex and detailed musical scores that are grounded in stories of passion and conflict, suffering and joy, forgiveness and despair. It takes place in the theater, not in a concert hall.”

The story, and therefore, the acting are crucial to the theatrical experience, almost as important as voice.

Opera has had explosive growth in North America in the last 20 years, in ways that it always has been popular in many European countries. One reason is that the story on which the opera is based is more accessible thanks to surtitles, translations of the opera’s words which are projected on a screen above the stage. We can follow the action, without having to sit there with a score and libretto or studying a translation for three days ahead of time

Leon Major, who has spent a lifetime in the theater, helps us find the dramatic action of the opera by using key scenes from some of the world’s best-loved operas. Witty, anecdotal, even gossipy, he brings us opera from the inside out, showing us how the director works with musicians, singers, and designers. 

Leon Major  is founder and artistic director of The Maryland Opera Studio for the University of Maryland, College Park, where he has directed many productions including operas by Handel, Monteverdi, and Mozart.  He has also taught in Tel Aviv, Mexico City and Shanghai, as well as in the United States and Canada.

Michael Laing is an education policy consultant and writer who has always loved opera, but who never thought it was more than a collection of greatest hits until he started working with Leon.

Click here to hear Leon Major on his new opera about boxer Joe Louis, The Shadow Boxer: