Michael Dellaira


         Michael Dellaira is known for his “haunting harmonies” (NewMusicBox.org), “eloquence and sensitivity” (New York Times) and “flair for vocal writing” (ClassicsToday.com). 

       Dellaira was born Michael Dellario in Schenectady, New York.  He legally changed his surname to Dellaira, the original family name, in 1982.   He attended Georgetown University, graduating in 1971 with a B.A. in Philosophy. At The George Washington University he studied composition with Robert Parris and conducting with George Steiner, receiving a Master of Music degree in 1973.  The following year he went to Princeton University, where he studied with Milton Babbitt, Edward T. Cone, and Paul Lansky, receiving both an M.F.A and Ph.D. in Composition. He spent two summers in residence at The Composers Conference working with Roger Sessions and Mario Davidovsky.  Awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 1977, Dellaira went to Italy to study with Goffredo Petrassi at the Academy of Santa Cecilia (Rome) and Franco Donatoni at the Chigiana Academy (Siena).  He also strudied privately with Walter Branchi.

     Dellaira's recent works are primarily for voice.  These include his three operas on libretti by J. D. McClatchy: The Secret Agent (2010), a co-commission from the Center for Contemporary Opera, Long Leaf Opera, and San Antonio Opera, premiered in March, 2011 at the Kaye Playhouse in New York (Sara Jobin, conductor) with subsequent performances at the Szeged National Theater in Hungary (where it was named "Laureat" of the Armel International Opera Festival), and the Opera Avignon in France; the one-act opera The Death of Webern (2013), commissioned and premiered by The Pocket Opera Players (Carmen Helena-Tellez, conductor) with a subsequent recording by The Frost School of Music, conducted by Alan Johnson  (and named one of the “5 Best New Works of 2016” by Opera News magazine); The Leopard (2018), commissioned by American Opera Projects and premiered in 2022 at the Dennis C. Moss Cultural Arts Center by the University of Miami’ Frost Opera Theater, conducted by Gerard Schwarz.

His opera Chéri, on a libretto by Susan Yankowitz, was a finalist for the 2006 American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award in Musical Theater and has been performed by both opera and Broadway singers in workshops at the Composers Chamber Theater, American Opera Projects and the Center for Contemporary Opera, and further developed and produced by The Actors Studio (Mark Shapiro, conductor), directed by Tony-Award winning actress, Carlin Glynn.

        Dellaira's 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, including at the NEA-sponsored “American Masterpieces Festival” in Austin, Texas and at the Eighth World Symposium on Choral Music in Copenhagen.     

ACE Publications

28 title(s)
Michael Dellaira ARCTIC EXPLORATIONS Solo Soprano (2), Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, and Baritone Voices, SATB Chorus, and Chamber Ensemble
clarinet/bass clarinet, amplified guitar, banjo, violin, viola, contrabass, perc (1)
Michael Dellaira CAMPERS AT KITTY HAWK SATB a cappella
Michael Dellaira CHÉRI - Opera in Two Acts 3 Sopranos, 2 Altos, 1 Mezzo, 2 Tenors, 1 Bass, Clarinet (Doubling Bass Clarinet and Alto Sax), Violin, Cello, and Synthesizer
Michael Dellaira COLORED STONES Baritone, piano
Michael Dellaira DEATH OF WEBERN - Opera in One Act fl/picc; cl/bscl; perc; vn; vc; pf; 6 singers (s,mz-sop,contralto,t,bar, bass-bar)
Michael Dellaira Elegy for the Jewish Villages Baritone, contrabass
Michael Dellaira Every Single Thing (song form Arctic Explorations) Mezzo-Soprano, women's voices (S & A), bass clarinet, guitar, viola, double bass
Michael Dellaira History Lessons Any Number of Voices
Michael Dellaira Hollow Hill Soprano and Piano
Michael Dellaira I'm Angelica - from opera The Leopard Sop, piano
Michael Dellaira Masters on the Movies A Cappella Chorus With Solo Soprano, Tenor, and Bass (And Optional Actors)
Michael Dellaira MAUD Mezzo-soprano and Fixed Media
Michael Dellaira NOBODY
mixed chorus, oboe
Michael Dellaira SECRET AGENT Opera in Two Acts
Flute / Piccolo Bb Clarinet / Bass Clarinet Oboe / English Horn Bassoon French Horn Trombone Percussion (1), Harp 2 Violins Viola Violoncello Contrabass
Michael Dellaira Sleep - from opera The Leopard Baritone, piano
Michael Dellaira SLIGO Chamber Orchestra
2222 2000 perc(2) 5-part strings
Michael Dellaira Star Globe Mezzo-Soprano, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass
Michael Dellaira Stranger, Grief - from opera, Chéri Mezzo Soprano, piano
Michael Dellaira TANCREDI! - I Know It! - from the opera The Leopard Sop, piano
Michael Dellaira THE LEOPARD 1211 2110 perc(1), 12-string guitar, harp, strings
Solo singers, chamber orchestra
Michael Dellaira This World Is Not Conclusion Mixed Chorus, Clarinet, and String Orchestra

Additional Works