Artistic Director


Kathleen Clawson
Artistic Director, Dayton Opera

Kathleen Clawson begins her tenure as Artistic Director of Dayton Opera, having worked with the company for over twelve years as Stage Director for fifteen performances, including most recently the lively production of the La Cenerentola in 2020, The Barber of Seville and Rigoletto in 2018, and an imaginative staging of Salome to close the 2018-2019 season.

Last season, as Artistic Director Designate, Kathleen was the Producing Director of the Virtual Streams programs Postcards from Dayton and Libiamo! A Celebration of Dayton Opera. She began her association with Dayton Opera in 2009, directing L’elisir d’amore and has been back every season since, directing productions of La Traviata, The Telephone (AIR Tour), Faust, Fidelio, La Bohème, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Great Wagner Concert, Aida, The Magic Flute, Otello, The Abduction from the Seraglio, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto, Salome, A Cinderella Trilogy (AIR Tour), and La Cenerentola. 

No stranger to the development of new works, she serves as dramaturg and stage director for this season’s world premiere of Finding Wright (music by Laura Kaminsky, libretto by Andrea Fellows Fineberg). Clawson directed the world premiere of Shoes for the Santo Niño (music by Stephen Paulus, libretto by Andrea Fellows Fineberg) for the Santa Fe Opera in 2011 and served as stage director and dramaturg for the 2016 world premiere  of UnShakeable (music by Joseph Illick, libretto by Andrea Fellows Fineberg) for the Santa Fe Opera.

She has worked for the Santa Fe Opera for over twenty seasons and is the Associate Director of their Apprentice Singer Program and Director of the Young Voices of the Santa Fe Opera. She served on the faculty of the University of New Mexico Department of Theatre and Dance for twenty-four years, where she taught courses in musical theater. For UNM she directed The Pirates of Penzance, The Secret Garden, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Spring Awakening, and the regional premieres of RENTZanna, Don’t!, and Urinetown the Musical.

Kathleen performed nationally as a classical singer in a wide range of repertoire from Bach and Janácek to Verdi and Wagner. She first came to Dayton in 1998 as mezzo-soloist for Alexander Nevsky with the Dayton Philharmonic. In addition to frequent appearances with the Dayton Philharmonic and New Mexico Symphony, Kathleen was guest soloist with the Symphony Orchestras of Evansville, Grand Rapids, Midland, North Arkansas, Sacramento, San Juan, Santa Fe and Syracuse, as well as the Berkshire Choral Festival, the Calvin College Oratorio Society and the Orchestra of San Antonio.  Her opera credits include The Dallas Opera, The Santa Fe Opera, Banff Festival of the Arts, New England Lyric Operetta Inc., Four Corners Opera, Dallas Lyric Opera, Opera Southwest and Theater Basel. She presented the World Première of Lanham Deal’s Weather Songs at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival accompanied by Janos Starker, has recorded De Falla’s El Amor Brujo for a United States tour by Maria Benitez’ Teatro Flamenco, and sang the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music with Debby Boone across America and Japan. She made her New York début at Lincoln Center as soloist in A Herbert Centennial with The Little Orchestra Society, with whom she later starred in a rare performance of Herbert’s Cyrano de Bergerac and as the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors.

Clawson holds a Master of Music Degree from the University of New Mexico (Vocal Performance) and a Bachelor of Music from the University of New Mexico (Vocal Pedagogy, Vocal Performance).