Ken Cazan, Stage Director and Librettist, is the Chair of Vocal Arts and Opera and Resident Stage Director at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. As a stage director, Cazan has directed over 160 productions of operas, musical theater, and plays in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe. Career highlights include directing the world premiere of the Kaminsky/Campbell/Reed opera As One for the BAM Festival in 2014 (which was chosen as one of the two top opera productions in New York City by slate.com). As one has the distinction of being the first opera to deal with a person accepting their transgender self. Cazan also directed the world premiere of the Lowell Lieberman’s Miss Lonelyhearts (libretto by Sandy McClatchy) which was commissioned by the Juilliard School in New York City for their 100th anniversary and a co-production with the Thornton School of Music and the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, a first among American universities. American premieres include Handel's Agrippina, Mozart's Mithridate, Re di Ponto and the first American opera house production of Britten's Gloriana. In Los Angeles, aside from directing many productions for USC, Cazan has directed Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen, Glass' The Fall of The House of Usher, and Picker's Therese Raquin for Long Beach Opera and for Chicago Opera Theater. where the latter was chosen as one of the top five classical music events of 2015 in both The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Classical Review. Also in L.A., Cazan directed Britten's The Prodigal Son in collaboration with James Conlon and the Los Angeles Opera. Cazan repeated The Prodigal Son for Central City Opera where, most recently, he directed the official 60th anniversary production of Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe, Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace, Billy Budd and Carousel. He will return next summer (2022) for a new production of Guettel’s Light in the Piazza.
As a librettist, Cazan collaborated with composer/librettist Thomas Morse on a new opera based on the life of Emilie Schindler, the wife of Oskar, titled Frau Schindler. He is honored to direct the world premiere of Frau Schindler at the Gärtnerplatz Theater in Munich, Germany, in March of 2017. In addition, Cazan wrote the book and lyrics for Prodigy, a musical about the professional life and death of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, with pop composer Billy Pace which was given a staged reading by the Los Angeles Festival of New American Musicals.
Other theater and opera companies for whom Cazan has directed are the Cain Park Theater, the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, the inaugural production for the new Kilden Theatre in Kristiansand, Norway (a new production of West Side Story), La Fenice in Venice, Italy (the Gershwins’ Lady Be Good which marked the first time an Italian opera company produced an original production of an American musical), the Santa Fe Opera, the Seattle Opera, the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the Vancouver Opera, and many more. On television, his work has been nationally broadcast on the American PBS channels, the Canadian CBC channels, and broadcast across Europe on the Italian RAI channels.