David Lawton

David Lawton

Professor; Opera studies, Music History and Theory
Co-director of the Opera Workshop


David Lawton is a frequent guest conductor in regional American opera companies. Recent engagements include Mark Adamo’s Little Women for OperaDelaware, in May 2008, La traviata for Occasional Opera in NYC in November 2009, and Der Freischütz for the same company in November 2010. In addition to the productions listed above, his credits include the Teatro comunale di Modena in Italy (La traviata), The Washington Opera (Don Carlo), Cincinnati Opera (Rigoletto), Tulsa Opera (the American premiere of Verdi’s Le Trouvère), the Berkshire Opera Company (La finta giardiniera), Brooklyn Opera Society (Così fan tutte), and National Grand Opera (Rigoletto and La traviata).  As Resident Conductor for Opera on the Sound he conducted productions of Rigoletto, La traviata, Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci, Hansel and Gretel, Die Fledermaus and Don Pasquale. He has long associations with OperaDelaware, where he serves as Artistic Consultant, and with Summer Opera Theatre, where he was Resident Conductor from 1989-2002. For OperaDelaware, in addition to the repertoire listed above, Maestro Lawton has conducted Stiffelio, La traviata, Aida, Macbeth (1865 version), Don Giovanni, Un ballo in maschera, and Les Contes d’Hoffman (Oeser edition). For Summer Opera, he has also led productions of Maria Stuarda, Roberto Devereux, Anna Bolena, Così fan tutte, La Cenerentola, and The Impresario/Pagliacci.

Lawton serves as Artistic Director of Stony Brook Opera at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he has also been both Chairman and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Music. At Stony Brook he has conducted full productions of a varied repertoire that includes rarely performed operas from the eighteenth century to the present: Giulio Cesare and Tamerlano (Handel), Iphigénie en Tauride (Gluck), La Canterina (Haydn), Medea (Benda), Abu Hassan (Weber), La Cambiale di Matrimonio (Rossini), Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (Nicolai), Béatrice et Bénédict (Berlioz), El Retablo de Maese Pedro (Falla), Mavra (Stravinsky), The Wandering Scholar (Holst), and musical theater works such as The Threepenny Opera and A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. As founder and Music Director of the Long Island Opera Society, Lawton conducted concert performances of Verdi’s Macbeth (1847 version), Il Corsaro (American premiere, with Carlo Bergonzi in the title role), and Donizetti’s Maria Padilla (American premiere).

Born and raised in Berkeley, California, Lawton received his AB in Music from the University of California. After studying conducting in Italy with Nino Sanzogno at La Scala, and with the celebrated composer Luigi Dallapiccola in Florence, Lawton received the Ph. D. degree from U.C. Berkeley in 1973 with a dissertation on Verdi’s early operas. A noted Verdi scholar, David Lawton is volume editor for Il trovatore, Le trouvère, and Macbeth in the critical edition of the Works of Giuseppe Verdi, a joint publication of the University of Chicago Press and the Casa Ricordi, Milano. His critical edition of Verdi’s Macbeth was awarded the Claude Palisca Prize for the best scholarly edition by the American Musicological Society at its national meeting in Los Angeles on November 4, 2006. His articles on Verdi have been published by W.W. Norton and the University of California Press, and in such journals as Studi verdiani, 19th Century Music, The Journal of the American Musicological Society, The Musical Quarterly, The Opera Quarterly, and the Verdi Newsletter. He is fluent in Italian, German, French, and competent in Russian. 

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