Leslie Dunton-Downer has written extensively for composer Augusta Read Thomas. Their first work, Ligeia, premiered in Evian, France under the baton of Mstislav Rostropovich, and received the 1994 Orpheus Prize for Best Chamber Opera ahead of acclaimed productions in Italy and the U.S. Among other libretti is Belladonna, for a chamber opera by Pulitzer-winning composer Bernard Rands, to mark the 50thanniversary of the Aspen Music Festival.
Leslie has in recent years teamed up with Berlin-based composers Farahnaz Hatam, Colin Hacklander, Marion Wörle, and Maciej Sledziecki. Following the success of This Is Not A Swan Song, which premiered in Cologne in 2017, Leslie, Marion, and Maciej are making additional music theater pieces, redrum and Forest, for forthcoming premieres at the Delphi Theater in Berlin, where cabaret scenes for the popular TV series Babylon Berlin are filmed.
A graduate of Harvard College, Leslie earned a PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She is a former Harvard University Lecturer, and a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. Her most recent book, The English is Coming!: How One Language is Sweeping the World (Touchstone, 2011), examines the global roots and reach of the English language. She alsoco-authored two books for publisher Dorling Kindersley: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (2004, 2013), and Opera (2006), each published in numerous foreign language editions.