Jay Lesenger is General/Artistic Director for the Chautauqua Opera. He has staged close to 200 productions during his almost 35-year career as a stage director. His staging of Donizetti's Anna Bolena opened Beverly Sill's first season as general director of The New York City Opera. For the past three years, he has been on the faculty of Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music as Director of Opera. Productions there include The Merry Widow, The Consul, the Beaumarchais Trilogy, The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro and The Ghosts of Versailles (Corigliano/Hoffman), as well as The Magic Flute and Street Scene.
As General/Artistic Director of Chautauqua Opera since 1995, Jay Lesenger has directed over 50 productions. Operatic highlights included new stagings of Vanessa, Macbeth, Il Trovatore, Stiffelio, Two Widows, Maria Stuarda, The Cunning Little Vixen, Regina, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Susannah, The Consul and Norma. Musical Theater/Operetta productions for Chautauqua include A Little Night Music, Once Upon a Mattress, She Loves Me, The Music Man, The Pirates of Penzance and Fiddler on the Roof. His Chautauqua production of Robert Ward's The Crucible, was also seen at Opera Boston and Mobile Opera.For New Orleans, Lesenger staged the world premiere of Thea Musgrave's opera Pontalba commissioned for the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. His productions there of The Ballad of Baby Doe and Die Walk're garnered Best Opera Production awards for their respective seasons. Other representative productions include Werther, Turandot, Lohengrin, and Anna Bolena for San Diego Opera; Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, Samson et Dalilah, The Magic Flute, Brundibar and Der Rosenkavalier for Opera Pacific; and The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, and Street Scene New York City Opera. For Atlanta Opera he staged 15 works, including his innovative production of Ariadne auf Naxos, which was later seen in Virginia, Chautauqua, and Milwaukee, where it was telecast on PBS from Florentine Opera. Productions in Europe include La Boh'me, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Eugene Onegin for Opera Nordfjord in Norway.
Jay Lesenger is a nationally recognized teacher of acting for singers and for five years directed the School of Music Opera Theater at the University of Michigan. He has directed at the Juilliard School (La Finta Giardiniera), Manhattan School of Music (Street Scene), Mannes School of Music (La Boheme), and Indiana University (The Bartered Bride.) He is a frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Hofstra University and a Master's from Indiana University.