Malena Dayen, regisseur

Malena Dayen

Winner of  the Catapult Opera’s competition
for innovation in opera.

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Malena is a distinguished Argentinian singer and director renowned for her innovative approach to opera, integrating cutting-edge and interactive technologies into her performances.

As a Princeton Hodder fellow for 2022/23, Malena has made significant contributions to the field of opera. Her recent project, Firesongs, a composition by Thomas Cabaniss, debuted at Chelsea Factory, New York City, in a groundbreaking collaboration with National Sawdust.

In April 2023, Malena brought her directorial talents to Fort Worth Opera with a production of Aida and later led the first-ever U.S. production in Spanish of Menotti's work this season.

Her directorial prowess was also on display at Opera Naples in the 22/23 season with critically acclaimed productions of Roméo et Juliette, Carmen, and Frida.

Malena is the co-creator of luzAzul, an innovative opera aimed at engaging very young audiences, which was showcased at Princeton's Lewis Arts Center and New York City's Chelsea Factory.

November 2021 saw her directing Cuando el fuego abrasa, a collaborative effort between Opera Hispánica and Teatro Grattacielo that featured compositions by Piazzolla and De Falla's El Amor Brujo, performed at LaMama, New York City.

Her directorial skills were further highlighted in Teatro Grattacielo's rendition of Mascagni's L'Amico Fritz at the Festival of the Voice in Phoenicia, NY, and at LaMama in 2021.

The Late Walk, an opera co-produced with Bare Opera and the Decameron Opera Coalition, earned a place in The Library of Congress's Performing Arts COVID-19 Response Collection under her direction. Furthermore, in 2021, she directed Heroes of New York for Bare Opera and DOC.

In 2020, Malena was awarded the 1st Prize by Catapult Opera in recognition of her innovative contributions to opera. She directed video productions of Fedora and Mefistofele by Teatro Grattacielo, acclaimed at the Munich Music Video Awards, the 4th Dimension Independent Film Festival, and the London International Music Video Awards.

Malena both starred in and directed a production of Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires and Don Giovanni with Bare Opera in New York City, showcasing her versatility as both an artist and director.

Together with Sangmin Chae, Malena developed Exercises on The Presence of Odradek, an avant-garde operatic piece performed live online, demonstrating her commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional opera.

Malena's academic credentials include an MFA from CUNY Brooklyn College in Performance and Interactive Media Arts, and both a Master of Music and a Professional Studies Diploma from the Mannes College of Music, The New School, reflecting her comprehensive training and expertise in her field.


Malena é uma cantora e diretora argentina que cria performances operísticas utilizando tecnologias novas e interativas. Foi premiada com a a bolsa  Hodder 22/23 da Princeton University e recentemente dirigiu e atuou em Firesongs, uma nova peça de Thomas Cabaniss que estreou na Chelsea Factory em colaboração com o National Sawdust em Nova York.

Malena dirigiu Aida na Ópera de Fort Worth em abril de 2023 e retornou nesta temporada para a primeira produção nos EUA em espanhol de Menotti.

Na temporada 22/23,  dirigiu Roméo et Juliette, Carmen e Frida na Ópera de Nápoles.

Malena co-criou luzAzul, uma ópera para públicos muito jovens que foi apresentada no Lewis Arts Center em Princeton e na Chelsea Factory em Nova York.

Em novembro de 2021, ela dirigiu Cuando el fuego abrasa, uma coprodução da Ópera Hispánica e do Teatro Grattacielo apresentando canções de Piazzolla e El Amor Brujo de De Falla na LaMama em Nova York.

Em 2021 ela também dirigiu  L'Amico Fritz de Mascagni pelo Teatro Grattacielo no Festival of the Voice em Phoenicia, NY e na LaMama, e  Heroes of New York para a Bare Opera e DOC.

Malena dirigiu The Late Walk, uma nova ópera em colaboração com a Bare Opera e a Decameron Opera Coalition que foi incluída na Coleção de Resposta à COVID-19 das Artes Cênicas da Biblioteca do Congresso. 

Em 2020, Malena ganhou o 1º Prêmio na competição da Catapult Opera por inovação em ópera e dirigiu as produções em vídeo de Fedora e Mefistofele do Teatro Grattacielo, que foram selecionadas para os Munich Music Video Awards, o 4th Dimension Independent Film Festival e o London International Music Video Awards.

Ela estrelou e dirigiu uma produção de Maria de Buenos Aires de Piazzolla e Don Giovanni com a Bare Opera em Nova York.

Junto com o colaborador Sangmin Chae, Malena co-criou Exercises on The Presence of Odradek, uma nova obra operística experimental apresentada ao vivo online.

Malena possui um MFA do Brooklyn College da CUNY no programa de Performance and Interactive Media Arts e um MM e PSD do Mannes College of Music, The New School.

Malena es una cantante y directora argentina que crea performances operísticas utilizando tecnologías nuevas e interactivas. Fue galardonada con la beca Hodder 22/23 de la Universidad de Princeton y recientemente dirigió y actuó en Firesongs, una nueva obra de Thomas Cabaniss que se estrenó en Chelsea Factory en colaboración con National Sawdust en Nueva York.

Malena dirigió Aida en la Ópera de Fort Worth en abril de 2023 y regresó esta temporada para la primera producción en los EE. UU. en español de Menotti.

En la temporada 22/23, dirigió Roméo et Juliette, Carmen y Frida en la Ópera de Nápoles.

Malena co-creó luzAzul, una ópera para públicos muy jóvenes que se presentó en el Lewis Arts Center en Princeton y en Chelsea Factory en Nueva York.

En noviembre de 2021, dirigió Cuando el fuego abrasa, una coproducción de la Ópera Hispánica y Teatro Grattacielo presentando canciones de Piazzolla y El Amor Brujo de De Falla en LaMama en Nueva York.

En 2021 también dirigió L'Amico Fritz de Mascagni por Teatro Grattacielo en el Festival of the Voice en Phoenicia, NY y en LaMama y Heroes of New York para Bare Opera y DOC.

Malena dirigió The Late Walk, una nueva ópera en colaboración con Bare Opera y la Decameron Opera Coalition que fue incluida en la Colección de Respuesta a COVID-19 de las Artes Escénicas de la Biblioteca del Congreso. 

En 2020, Malena ganó el 1er Premio en la competencia de Catapult Opera por innovación en ópera y dirigió las producciones en video de Fedora y Mefistofele de Teatro Grattacielo, que fueron seleccionadas para los Munich Music Video Awards, el 4th Dimension Independent Film Festival y el London International Music Video Awards.

Protagonizó y dirigió una producción de Maria de Buenos Aires de Piazzolla y Don Giovanni con Bare Opera en Nueva York.

Junto con el colaborador Sangmin Chae, Malena co-creó Exercises on The Presence of Odradek, una nueva obra operística experimental presentada en vivo en línea.

Malena posee un MFA del Brooklyn College de la CUNY en el programa de Performance and Interactive Media Arts y un MM y PSD del Mannes College of Music, The New School.


Teatro Grattacielo 2020 Review: Fedora
Reimagining ‘Fedora’ for the Modern Reality
By Polina Lyapustina

Teatro Grattacielo’s darker, sepia-toned “Fedora,” as directed by Malena Dayen, is an opera you need to see today. It’s here to give you hope, that tomorrow exists even for those collectives who are now forced to abandon even the most familiar basis of opera performance but not giving up on the big artform’s potential as a chamber concert format. And in “Fedora,” you can see how everything that has been cut off can be replaced and enriched with a vengeance using smart and witty solutions.

Minimalist and modern in the set design, Dayen’s version of the work is highly rich in emotions. The light, the very technical harmonization of the voices and piano, the acting — it all hits to the heart when we are devoid of distractions such as decorations and costumes.

Finally, the close-ups don’t force the eyes to concentrate on the details we never needed, but let us get closer to the singers and their special artistic approaches. I do believe, that the personality of Michelle Johnson, her endless pleasure of singing, made the soprano a convincing Fedora more than any princess dresses could ever do. And the big and devoted eyes of mezzo-soprano Eugenia Forteza built her character and defined her role before she sang her first tune.

Bare Opera 2019 Review: Maria de Buenos Aires
Kaleidoscopic Production Immersed Viewer In World of Tango
By Logan Martell


Bare Opera kicked off their production of Astor Piazzolla’s “Maria de Buenos Aires.” Staged in The Bellewether of New York City, the venue, along with director Malena Dayen’s approach, supported by strong choreography from Troy Ogilvie, resulted in an immersive musical experience.

Love, your magic spell is everywhere!
Teatro Grattacielo presented two visions of love’s magic on November 13 and 14—one via Spain and Argentina (in collaboration with Opera Hispánica).
on November 22, 2021

Malena Dayen’s direction did not engage in unnecessary fuss—movements were simple and direct and the focus was squarely on the singers. Troy Ogilvie was listed as choreographer but there was no dancing just expressive movement.

Feulien strutted around the stage like a cabaret singer while Herrera’s expressive plastique evoked the character of each song or scene. Set and Lighting designer Jon DeGaetano provided a unit set of small set pieces like broken mirrors on which were projected images of flying birds, fire, a threatening sky, a hand with an eye in the palm, etc. (Projections designed by Matthew Dienhart).

Opera Hispánica & Teatro Grattacielo 2021-22 Review: Cuando el Fuego Abrasa
by David Saslazar

As Candela, Herrera was pure fire. An international superstar, she has performed at all the major opera houses around the world. She has recorded and performed “Amor Brujo” several times. But she had never performed a staged version of the work, which focuses on Candela seeking out a witch’s cave to bring forth Carmelo and confront him over his abandonment. I’ve seen Herrera a number of times before, particularly at the Met in productions of “Rigoletto” and “Salome” where her robust and potent voice were particular highlights of those performances.

But I had never seen the artistic versatility and brilliance from her on display in Dayen’s production of “Amor Brujo.” What was most eye-opening was her physical interpretation, led by some fantastic choreography by Troy Ogilvie. In one dance she was contorting her body around; in another, she was leading with her hands; in another, it was her shawl. She moved from one side of the stage, from one mirror to the other, her movements in precise synchronization with the lighting effects. We certainly don’t see a lot of the international opera superstars pushing themselves to these limits. But here was Herrera, reminding us that opera singers are so much more than we have come to expect.

Productions such as this one need and deserve more time, not only to allow the artists to continue to explore, but also to invite new audiences to experience it. Hopefully, this production will get a chance to travel in the future and engage with those new and unsuspecting audiences. They will walk away with an unforgettable memory.

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