LAWRENCE EDELSON, Artistic and General Director
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.
In January 2014, Lawrence was appointed Artistic and General Director of Opera Saratoga, effective July 1, 2014. Lawrence is responsible for the oversight of both the artistic and administrative management of Opera Saratoga’s programs.
As a director, Lawrence’s work has been praised for the ability to fuse vivid story telling with deeply expressive imagery. He has been praised by Opera Now magazine as doing a “splendid job of making [opera] relevant and understandable.” His productions have been called “ingenious” and “imaginative” by Opera News, and “stunningly touching and entertaining” by the Washington Post. These diverse 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, The Consul, The Cradle Will Rock, Il Postino, H.M.S. Pinafore, and La Cenerentola for Opera Saratoga, Carmen for Toledo Opera, a double-bill of La Serva Padrona and Trouble in Tahiti for the Adler Fellows of San Francisco Opera at Opera Santa Barbara, the world premiere of Buried Alive (Myers/Long) for Fargo Moorhead Opera, the New York premiere of Fauré’s rarely produced Pénélope for Manhattan School of Music, Cosi fan tutte for Boston University’s Opera Institute at the Huntington Theater, and the world premiere of The ToyMaker off-Broadway as part of the New York Musical Theater Festival. 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.
Before focusing on directing and arts administration, Lawrence enjoyed a performing career in both ballet and opera. He studied voice and musicology at The University of Ottawa and dance at The Joffrey Ballet School in New York. As a dancer, he performed with Boston Ballet II, Ballet West, and BalletMet Columbus, and has choreographed for ballet and opera companies around the country. As a young singer, he appeared in opera, oratorio and musical theater internationally.
Lawrence completed his master’s degree in performing arts administration at New York University, authoring his thesis "Opera: The Irrelevant Art: Uniting Marketing and Organizational Strategy to Combat the Depopularization of Opera in the United States." He has consulted on projects for MCC Theater, Opera Orchestra of New York, New York City Opera, and on the cultural development of Lower Manhattan for New York City council member Alan Gerson.
A self-described “arts-entrepreneur,” Edelson is a successful and creative leader with a proven track record of leading non-profit and for-profit companies, and of balancing artistic idealism and fiscal realism. In the for-profit sector, Lawrence founded Pro Musica Tours while still a university student. The company has become one of New York City’s most highly respected cultural tourism operators, specializing in educational arts travel programs for student groups. The company features three distinct product lines: Broadway and Beyond, Musical Treasures of New York, and Destination Dance.
In the opera field, Lawrence is best known as the founder of American Lyric Theater (ALT). He has been responsible for assembling ALT’s Board of Directors, its world-renowned artistic staff, and implementing strategic operating and fundraising plans to ensure the long-term viability of the organization. As producing artistic director at ALT, a position he continues to hold concurrent with his position at Opera Saratoga, he coordinates the diverse artistic programs of ALT, including The Composer Librettist Development Program, commissioning of new works, and co-production relationships. A tireless advocate for emerging artists and the diversification of audiences for opera, Edelson has served on the Strategy Committee for OPERA America, and continues to forge collaborations with opera companies across the country.