Michael Dellaira’s music is known for its “haunting harmonies” (NewMusicBox.org), “eloquence and sensitivity” (New York Times) and “flair for vocal writing” (ClassicsToday.com). His opera Chéri, on a libretto by Susan Yankowitz (after the novel by Colette) was a finalist for the 2006 Richard Rodgers Award in Musical Theater and has been performed by both opera and Broadway singers in workshops at American Opera Projects, the Center for Contemporary Opera and The Actors Studio. His first work for theater, the monodrama Maud for mezzo-soprano and computer-generated sounds, was awarded an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, as well as First Prize by the American Society of University Composers. His choral works are widely performed in the U.S. and Europe, most recently at the NEA-sponsored “American Masterpieces Festival” in Austin, Texas and at the Eighth World Symposium on Choral Music in Copenhagen.
Dellaira is currently Composer-in-Residence with the Center for Contemporary Opera, and is working on an opera based on Joseph Conrad’s novel, The Secret Agent, with a libretto by J.D. McClatchy. A joint commission from the Center for Contemporary Opera, San Antonio Opera, and Long Leaf Opera (Chapel Hill, NC) the opera will premiere next year.
Dellaira has also been honored with two residencies at The Composers Conference, a Fulbright Fellowship to Rome (where he studied with Goffredo Petrassi at the Academy of Santa Cecilia), grants from the American Music Center, Cary Trust, Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation, New Jersey Arts Council and, most recently, a Jerome Foundation commission from the American Composers Forum.
Dellaira’s music integrates the classical and popular traditions: a violinist and clarinetist in orchestras, he has sung in both choirs and rock groups, played the guitar in new music ensembles and bluegrass bands, has a degree in philosophy from Georgetown and a Ph.D. in music composition from Princeton.