Professor of Practice
Artistic Director, Moores Opera Center
Lawrence Edelson is highly respected not only as a critically acclaimed stage director, but also as a visionary company leader who has created programs in the areas of artist mentorship and new works development that have served as models of innovation for opera companies around the country. Lawrence began his directing career on the staff of Glimmerglass Opera, assisting the pioneering director and choreographer Rhoda Levine. Lawrence’s original productions have included the American Premiere of Telemann’s Orpheus for Wolf Trap Opera; Philip Glass’s Hydrogen Jukebox for Fort Worth Opera; La Traviata for The Minnesota Opera; Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Hawaii Opera Theater; Three Decembers for Virginia Opera; Werther for Florida Grand Opera; La Cenerentola, The Consul, Il Postino, and Man of La Mancha, for Opera Saratoga; and the New York premiere of Fauré's Pénélope for Manhattan School of Music. He was a guest member on the directing staff of New York City Opera, where he restaged Little Women twice: for the work’s Lincoln Center premiere, and for the company’s tour to Japan. From 2008 to 2012, Lawrence was also faculty member at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, where he led seminars on American opera, and directed original productions of Adamo’s Little Women, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Massenet’s Werther, Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.
Lawrence originally studied voice and musicology at the University of Ottawa in Canada before taking a period of time away from school to pursue a career in dance, performing with Boston Boston Ballet, Ballet West and BalletMet Columbus. He returned to complete his undergraduate degree at New York University with a concentration in opera stage directing and subsequently completed his Master’s Degree in Performing Arts Administration at NYU. He has consulted on projects for Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), New York City Opera, Opera Orchestra of New York, MCC Theater, and on the cultural development of Lower Manhattan for New York City council member Alan Gerson.
In 2005, Edelson founded American Lyric Theater (ALT), where he continues to serve as Artistic and General Director. At ALT, Edelson has been responsible for creating the Composer Librettist Development Program (CLDP), the only full time professional mentorship initiative for emerging opera composers, librettists and dramaturgs in the country; and for initiating the Opera Writers Diversity and Representation Initiative (OWDARI), for which he was recognized in 2021 by Musical America as one of the Top 30 Professionals of the Year. At ALT, Lawrence has overseen the development of over 20 operas, including The Long Walk by Jeremy Howard Beck and Stephanie Fleischmann, which received its world premiere in a co-production between Opera Saratoga and Utah Opera; The Golden Ticket by Peter Ash and Donald Sturrock, based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, which received its world premiere in a co-production between Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the Wexford Festival in Ireland; JFK by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek, which received its world premiere in a co-production between Fort Worth Opera and Opéra de Montreal; Monkey and Francine in the City of Tigers by Kamala Sankaram and David Johnston, for Houston Grand Opera’s HGOCo; and The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing by Justine F. Chen and David Simpatico, which will premiere at Chicago Opera Theater in 2023. An active practioner of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process, Edelson recently contributed a chapter on the use of the CRP in the development of new operas at American Lyric Theater in Lerman’s most recent book, Critique is Creative: The Critical Response Process in Theory and Action.
Edelson was appointed Artistic and General Director of Opera Saratoga in 2014, a position he held concurrently with his leadership of ALT through the summer of 2022. During his tenure at Opera Saratoga, he was responsible for rebranding the organization, expanding the company's young artist program and creating new mentorship opportunities for conductors and directors, increasing community engagement and education programs year-round, and diversifying the repertoire produced. Reviewing the company’s 2018 season, The Wall Street Journal noted that “under the leadership of Lawrence Edelson, Opera Saratoga has redoubled its commitment to producing modern operas, and is doing so at a very high level...polished, immaculately cast, and a stimulating juxtaposition of contemporary compositional voices.” At Opera Saratoga, Edelson produced the American Premiere of The Witches of Venice by Philip Glass and Beni Montressor, the World Premiere of Ellen West by Ricky Ian Gordon and Frank Bidart in partnership with Beth Morrison Projects, the company’s first Spanish language opera, Il Postino, by Daniel Catán, Opera Saratoga’s first foray into Baroque repertoire with a site-specific production of Dido and Aeneas at The National Museum of Dance, directed and choreographed by the “punk ballerina” Karole Armitage; and the critically acclaimed production, and recording of Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock, directed and choreographed by Edelson and conducted by John Mauceri.