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School of Music

Faculty and Staff

Ellen Douglas Schlaefer

Associate Professor / Director of Opera Studies and Opera at USC
School of Music

Phone: 803-777-0058

School of Music Room 320


Opera at USC
Opera for Kids



Schlaefer has staged Faust for The Washington Opera (now known as The Washington National Opera); La Bohème and Don Giovanni (Lyric Opera of Kansas City);Scott Joplin and Treemonisha (Opera Memphis); Le Nozze di Figaro, Carmen, La Bohème (Green Mountain Opera Festival, Va.); La Bohème and Romeo et Juliette with the National Symphony Orchestra and Wolf Trap Opera, Vienna Va.; the Francesca Zambello production of The Little Prince (Houston Grand Opera, Tulsa Opera); Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Aida (The Connecticut Opera); The Magic Flute (Opera Memphis, Houston Ebony Opera); La Bohème (Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Carolina, Connecticut Opera, Augusta Opera); Porgy & Bess (Opera Illinois, Connecticut Opera); La Traviata (Cleveland Opera, Opera Memphis, Connecticut Opera); Rigoletto  (Opera Carolina, Piedmont Opera); Salome, Norma, Die Fledermaus, Tosca, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Il Tabbaro, Romeo et Juliette (Connecticut Opera); Madama Butterfly (Artpark & Co., Connecticut Opera, Houston Ebony Opera Guild); Lucia di Lammermoor (Orlando Opera); Fidelio (Cleveland Opera); I Pagliacci (Eugene Opera, Connecticut Opera). Other operas staged include La Dolorosa, The Face on the Barroom Floor, Luisa Fernanda, and Bastien & Bastienne (Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Tour); Amahl & the Night Visitors, Gianni Schicchi (Dayton Opera); Brundibar (Tulsa Opera); The Medium (Augusta Opera); The Telephone (Augusta Opera, Dayton Opera); Le Ville, Edgar, Martha, Linda di Chamounix, La Pietra del Paragon and The Toy Shop (Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia), L’Elisir d’amore (Shenandoah University) and Le Nozze di Figaro and Love makes the World Go Round (Opera on the James).

Additional directing projects include the dramas I Am My Own Wife, In The Next Room or the vibrator play,  Doubt-a parable, The Goat or Who is Sylvia (Trustus Theatre) Master Class, I Am My Own Wife, Grace & Glorie, You Can't Take it With You and The Sister Rosensweig (Workshop Theatre of SC) Comedy of Errors (University of Dallas); musicals She Loves Me (Coastal Carolina University); A Chorus Line, South Pacific, Oklahoma, The Merry Widow and The King & I (Artpark, Lewiston, N.Y.) and Sweeney Todd for The Princeton Festival (Princeton, N.J.) and for Workshop Theatre of S.C.

Schlaefer served as production stage manager for The Santa Fe Opera from 1987 until 2000 and for the Washington Opera 1986 to 1994. Additional stage managing credits include productions with Opera Company of Philadelphia, San Diego Opera, Seattle Opera, The Washington Opera, Opera Omaha, Opera Pacific and the Merry Go Round Playhouse. She has been the tour manager for the Kennedy Center Imagination Festival and production stage manager for the World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail, Colo.

Early in her career, Schlaefer assisted directors Francesca Zambello, Gian Carlo Menotti, Julius Rudel, Sonja Frissell, Ann-Margret Pettersson, Ted Pappas, Michael Ehrman, Baayork Lee and Roman Terleckyj on productions with The Washington Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Colorado, Central City Opera, Charleston Symphony, The Israel Festival (Jerusalem, Israel), Teatro Comunale di Modena (Italy), Spoleto Festival (Melbourne, Australia) and New York Harlem Productions (Munich, Germany).

Schlaefer is the founding and General Director of FBN Productions, Inc., Opera for Kids, a professional touring company established in 1994 that takes operas into schools, libraries and other venues throughout the Southeast.

 Since her appointment in 2004, Schlaefer has staged over 40 productions for Opera at USC.  Upcoming engagements for 2015 include: Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Brott Opera, Hamilton, Ontario, CA; Tosca for The Dallas Opera and The Little Prince for Houston Grand Opera.