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Stage director Ken Cazan

Ken Cazan is Professor of Opera and the Resident Stage Director at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. Professionally, he has directed over 180 productions of operas, musicals, and plays in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe. World premieres he has directed include Thomas Morse’s opera Frau Schindler (for which Mr. Cazan also served as co-librettist) for the Gärtnerplatz Theatre in Munich, Germany, the Kaminsky/Campbell/Reed opera As One for American Opera Projects and the BAM Festival, and the Lieberman/McClatchy collaboration, Miss Lonelyhearts which was commissioned by the Juilliard School for their 100th anniversary and was a co-production with the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. American premieres include Handel’s Agrippina for the Ft. Worth Opera, Mozart’s Mitridate, re di Ponto with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and the American opera house premiere of Britten’s Gloriana with the Central City Opera. His European debut came through directing a semi-staged production of La Bohéme which was conducted by Leonard Bernstein, performed in Rome, Italy at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, recorded live by Deutsche Grammophon and RAI television and broadcast throughout Europe. Additionally in Europe, he directed and adapted the book for the Gershwins’ Lady be good for La Fenice in Venice, Italy which marked the first time an Italian theatre had created an original production of a traditional musical. Other companies for whom Mr. Cazan has directed include the Santa Fe Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, the Vancouver Opera, the Seattle Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, Opera Omaha, Florida Grand Opera, Long Beach Opera, and many more.

Upcoming work includes a production of Carousel by Rodgers and Hammerstein with the Central City Opera for whom Mr. Cazan will also be the principal acting teacher for their Bonfils-Stanton Young Artists Program. This year marks Mr. Cazan’s eighteenth year with the Central City Opera. Also upcoming is the world premiere of Uljas Pulkkis’ and Glenda Goss’ opera, All the truths we cannot see, a co-production of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland and the Thornton School of Music.

Outside of opera, Ken Cazan has directed plays and musicals for professional theater companies. Projects have included West Side Story (which he has directed four times since 2009) as the inaugural production for the Kilden Theatre in Kristiansand, Norway, Waiting for Godot and The Inca of Perusalem for the Milwaukee Chamber Theater, To Gillian on her 37th birthday for the Cain Park Theater and many others. Mr. Cazan wrote the book and lyrics in collaboration with pop composer Billy Pace for Prodigy, a musical about the professional life and death of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The musical was given two very successful readings by the Los Angeles Festival of New American Musicals.

Ken Cazan has won many awards for both teaching and his productions. The most recent awards were the Outstanding Service Award and Outstanding Teaching Award from USC and the Denver area Marlowe Award for both Outstanding Opera Production and Best Opera Director for his production of Britten’s Billy Budd with the Central City Opera. In 2017, Ken Cazan was inducted into the Grove Dictionary of Music. It was the first time in 25 years that the venerable publication had been edited. The dictionary cited Mr. Cazan as an expert on the works of Benjamin Britten and praised his skill in working with singer-actors on character and relationships.

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