Music by Michael Dellaira
Libretto by J. D. McClatchy
Based on the novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

About the Work Creators Video/Audio Gallery Press Performances


In 1860, during the Risorgimento, Garibaldi has invaded Sicily and is sweeping the country towards a unified Italy. “For things to remain the same everything must change” declares the young and idealistic Tancredi to his uncle, Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina. The Prince, known as The Leopard because of his commanding personality, is of the old school, and he now faces a society in upheaval, and is forced to choose between decay and progress, between the downfall of the nobility and the future of his family. Based on the internationally acclaimed 1958 novel Il Gattopardo by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard will be Michael Dellaira's third opera with J. D. McClatchy.

The opera will be in two acts, about two hours in length, including intermission. There are expected to be 4 principal roles (soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone) and 8 supporting roles (2 sopranos, mezzo, 2 tenors, baritone, 2 basses). The orchestra: winds, brass, harp, strings, percussion, and 12-string guitar.

Commissioned by American Opera Projects. The Leopard is made possible, in part, through generous funding by The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation and The Paul Underwood Charitable Trust.


Michael Dellaira is the composer of three operas. His first, Chéri, on a libretto by Susan Yankowitz, produced by The Actors Studio and directed by Tony-Award winner Carlin Glynn, was a finalist for the 2006 American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award in Musical Theater. From 2006-2010 he was composer-in-residence with the Center for Contemporary Opera, which co-commissioned The Secret Agent, his first collaboration with J. D. McClatchy. The Death of Webern, also on a libretto by J.D. McClatchy, was commissioned by The Pocket Opera Players and premiered in October, 2013. His monodrama Maud was awarded First Prize from the American Society of University Composers. Known for his “haunting harmonies” (New Music Box), “flair for vocal writing” (ClassicsToday) and “eloquence and sensitivity” (New York Times), Dellaira has been a recipient of an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, two residencies at The Composers Conference, grants from the American Music Center, Cary Trust, Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation, New Jersey Arts Council and a Jerome Foundation commission from the American Composers Forum.

mcclatchyJ. D. MCCLATCHY
J. D. McClatchy is the author of eight books of poems, most recently Plundered Hearts: New and Selected Poems (Knopf). He was also written three collections of essays, including American Writers at Home (2004), and edited dozens of other books. He teaches at Yale, is editor of The Yale Review, and has served as President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His first opera libretto was for William Schuman’s A Question of Taste, which premiered in 1989. He subsequently wrote libretti for Francis Thorne’s Mario and the Magician (1994), Bruce Saylor’s Orpheus Descending (1994), Tobias Picker’s Emmeline (1996), Lorin Maazel’s 1984 (with Thomas Meehan, 2005), Lowell Liebermann’s Miss Lonelyhearts (2006), Ned Rorem’s Our Town (2006), and Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel (with Julie Taymor, 2006), Michael Dellaira’s The Secret Agent (2011), Bernard Rands’s Vincent (2011), Daron Hagen’s Little Nemo in Slumberland (2012), Martin Bresnick’s My Friend’s Story (2013), Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne (2013), Michael Dellaira’s The Death of Webern (2013), and Jeanine Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me (2013). His work has been performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, the Kennedy Center, San Francisco Opera, and other leading opera stages around the world.

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March 13-18, 2016
Staged Piano Vocal Reading of scenes and artist discussion
March 13 and March 17 - Manhattan School of Music - Greenfield Hall, New York, NY 10027
March 18 -South Oxford Space, 138 South Oxford St., Brooklyn, NY 11217
Performances by Oliver Sewell, Michael Gracco, Anna Dugan, Janet Todd, Tim Sirinunthikul, Hidenori Inoue, Blake Friedman, Brittany Bellacosa, Kayla Fuentes, and Philipe L’Esperance. With Stephanie Johnson, Yesul Yeon, Marie-Gabrielle Arco, and Martin Case. Andrew Altenbach, conductor. Anne Shikany, director. Scott Rednour, music director.
Presented by AOP First Chance and Manhattan School of Music

October 8, 2015
Arias from the opera-in-development
Colony Club, 564 Park Avenue, NYC
Performances by Samantha Britt, Elizabeth Sutphen, Robert Mellon. Music direction by Jennifer Peterson.

November 8, 2014
Libretto Reading w music preview and artist discussion
Poets House, 10 River Terrace, New York, NY 10282
Presentation by J. D. McClatchy. Libretto Reading directed by James Robinson
Libretto reading performers: Stephanye Dussud, Kristen French, Jerry Marsini, Victoria Anne Miller, Jeremy Smith, Marie Zoumanigui, Clint Zugel, Megan Ketch, Devin Landin, Alexander V. Thompson
With music performances by Jennifer Sgroe and Deborah Lifton
Presented by AOP First Chance and Poets House


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American Opera Projects, Inc. • 138 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
718.398.4024 •