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. On being awarded the International Orpheus Prize for Best Chamber Opera by jury president Luciano Berio, Ligeia was produced by the Teatro Lirico Sperimentale in Spoleto, with Gianpiero Taverna conducting and Luca Ronconi directing. Other librettos include Belladonna for composer Bernard Rands and the Aspen Music Festival’s 50th anniversary, David Zinman conducting and Edward Berkeley directing; Droit dans la flamme (Into the Flame) for La Péniche Opéra of L’Opéra Comique in Paris, with musicians from Tajikistan and dancer Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam of Iran; This Is Not A Swan Song, for Gamut Inc. composers Maciej Sledziecki and Marion Wörle and a German tour launched at the Stadtgarten in Cologne; and most recently for Gamut Inc., Redrum, which premiered at Berlin’s renowned Theater im Delphi, familiar to audiences of the TV series Babylon Berlin as the nightclub Moka Efti.
Leslie holds BA, MA, and PhD degrees from Harvard, where she served as Lecturer in the Humanities on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences before joining the Harvard Society of Fellows in 1993.
Her most recent book, The English is Coming!: How One Language is Sweeping the World (Touchstone, 2011), presenting the current planetary reach of the language in the context of its singular history and earliest known roots.
She also co-authored two books for publisher Dorling Kindersley: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (2004, 2013), and Opera (2006), each published in numerous foreign language editions. She is the grateful recipient of major grants and honors including the Berlin Prize.