Dona D. Vaughn, Artistic Director of PORTopera, a summer festival in Portland, Maine, also serves as Director of Opera at Manhattan School of Music. From 1998 to 2010 she was Stage Director/Acting Coach for The Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. A graduate of Brevard College (voice) where she currently serves on the board of trustees, she received her BA in music (vocal performance) from Wesleyan (Outstanding Alumni Award), an MA in theater (directing) from Hunter College, and an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Southern Maine. She studied acting with Lee Strasberg and Uta Hagen, and dance with Martha Graham.
She began her career as a performer in the original Broadway productions of Company, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Seesaw, and in tours of Funny Girl and Sweeney Todd. She was Assistant to Producer Kermit Bloomgarden for the Broadway productions of Equus and Hot l Baltimore, Associate Producer for Pavel Kohout’s Poor Murderer and ABC Television’s All My Children, Dramaturge for the O’Neill Conference on Opera and Musical Theater, HB Playwright’s Unit, the University of Kansas New Play Season, and Assistant Director for the original production of Tennessee Williams’ Red Devil Battery Sign.
Directing credits include New York City Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Wolf Trap Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Ensemble Studio Theater, Lincoln Center Playwrights’ Festival, New York Repertory Company, Kennedy Center, Minerva Productions, Peterloon Festival, Heritage Theater (Calgary, Canada), DiVivreVoix (Vivonne, France), Florida Arts Festival, and many colleges and universities across the country. She directed the premieres of Roberto Hazon’s L’Agenzia Matrimoniale, Robert Sirota’s Holy Women, Francis Thorne’s Mario and the Magician, Ray Luc’s Drowne’s Wooden Image and The Bullfrog, New York premieres of Milton Granger’s Talk Opera and The Proposal, the Off-Broadway production of Murphy Guyer’s World of Mirth, and the European premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s The Flower and the Hawk.
Formerly a member of the voice faculties at SUNY-Plattsburgh and Marymount Manhattan College, she often conducts master classes across the U.S., Asia, and Europe, most recently for Shanghai Conservatory, Sibelius Academy, Finland, The Royal Danish Academy, The Royal College of Music, London, and the University College of Opera, Sweden.
She serves as an adjudicator for vocal competitions including: The Metropolitan Opera National Council, The Richard Tucker Foundation, Denver Lyric Opera, Palm Beach Opera, The Jenson Foundation, The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Artist-in-Training Program, and Premio Spiros Argiris International Competition (Italy). She has written for Opera News and Italy’s Musical!