Michael Dellaira The music of Michael Dellaira


Michael Dellaira’s music exploits the qualities of both speech and song, and encompasses genres from folk music to voice synthesis on computers. About Dellaira, who is widely praised for his “haunting harmonies”(newmusicbox.org), “eloquence and sensitivity” (New York Times) and “flair for vocal writing” (classicstoday.com), the noted American critic and composer Eric Salzman has said: “He has created a personal musical language that combines the harmonic vocabulary and rhythmic interest of rock music with the technical rigor of the best modern classical music. It is the combination and synthesis of these seemingly contradictory elements which gives surface tension and excitement, and deeper value to Dellaira’s music.”

Born in Schenectady, New York, Dellaira was educated in both philosophy and music; in the U.S. at Georgetown (B.A.), The George Washington (M.Mus) and Princeton Universities (M.F.A., Ph.D), in Germany at the Universität zu Köln, and in Italy at L’Accademia di Santa Cecilia and L’Accademia Chigiana. His primary teachers were Milton Babbitt,  Edward T. Cone, Paul Lansky, and Goffredo Petrassi and Franco Donatoni. In addition, he had two residencies at The Composers Conference, where he studied with Roger Sessions and Mario Davidovsky. His numerous awards include First Prize for his monodrama Maud from the Society of Composers, an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, grants from the Ford and Mellon Foundations, the New Jersey Arts Council, Cary Trust, the American Music Center, and a Jerome Commission from the American Composers Forum.  His opera Chéri (libretto by Susan Yankowitz, after the novel by Colette) was performed at The Actors Studio and directed by Tony Award winning actress Carlin Glynn — and was a finalist for the American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award in Musical Theater. His opera,  The Secret Agent on a libretto by J. D. McClatchy (based on the novel by Joseph Conrad), was named the Laureat at the Armel International Opera Festival in Hungary, where the opera was broadcast live on the Arte Channel to over a million viewers.

His opera The Death of Webern, also on a libretto by J. D. McClatchy, was commissioned by The Pocket Opera Players and premiered at Symphony Space, New York, in October, 2013.  Two years later it was recorded by The Frost School of Music, under the direction of conductor Alan Johnson, for Albany Records.  The CD was named one of the “5 Best New Works” of 2016 by Opera News.

In 2013 Dellaira and McClatchy were commissioned by American Opera Projects to create a new opera based on the great 20th Century novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa,  The Leopard.

Dellaira has taught music at The George Washington University, Princeton University, and Union College. His works are recorded on CRI, Opus One and Albany Records. He resides with his wife, the writer Brenda Wineapple, in New York City, and can be reached at mrd@michaeldellaira.com