Director / Mezzo-Soprano Malena Dayen Among Princeton University’s 2022-23 Mary Mackall Gwinn Hodder Fellows

By Logan Martell

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts has announced their five Mary Mackall Gwinn Hodder Fellows for the 2022-23 academic year and one of them happens to be a major player in the independent New York opera scene.

Among this year’s fellowships, which is given to artists who demonstrate “much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts,” is mezzo-soprano and director Malena Dayen. The Argentine director has led productions for a number of major opera companies including Bare Opera and Teatro Grattacielo.

As a performer, she has appeared with such companies as the Teatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro, Opera Naples, Opera Hispánica, Bare Opera, Natchez Opera Festival, the Festival d’Art Vocal de Montreal and  the New York Lyric Opera Theatre.

I see this opportunity as a vote of confidence in my ideas and as an opportunity to fully commit to experimentation in opera. Being a Hodder fellow allows me to focus on alternative projects with total freedom,” Dayen told OperaWire. “I’m interested in exploring the possibilities of performances of opera online as a medium, as a creative playground for new artistic ideas and a way to include a larger, more diverse audience. I will also create a new operatic work as well as a re-imagined take of a bel canto opera.”

Other recipients of this year’s fellowships include choreographer Mayfield Brooks, playwright Virginia Grise, author Jamil Jan Kochai, and artist/writer Sidony O’Neal.

“Each year we find ourselves amazed by the quality of our Hodder applicants and their proposed projects,” says Michael Cadden, interim chair of the Lewis Center. “This year was no different. We are delighted to invite this year’s fellows into the university community and we’re confident that their year of ‘studious leisure’ will, as Mrs. Hodder hoped, lead to work that will enlarge the human community’s understanding of ourselves and the world we all share.”

Past recipients of the fellowship include novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, painter Mario Moore, poet Natalie Diaz, and more.