As we continue to recognize the contributions of women to events in history this March, we at MOT salute one of our own history makers in our Assistant Music Director and Chorus Master, Suzanne Mallare Acton. A native of Detroit, Acton returned home following college to become Chorus Master at MOT in the 1980’s. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Michigan Opera Theatre, and Acton’s tenure accounts for two-thirds of the entire musical history of the company.
Known for her “supple, distinctive musical direction," Suzanne continues to earn respect and admiration for her ability to draw out the highest musical standards from those under her direction. Acton has worked on over 150 productions of opera, operetta and musicals collaborating with world renowned artists such as Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, Ara Berberian, Pablo Elvira, and others.
As a conductor Suzanne has lead MOT in productions of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Carmen, La Traviata, Frida, A View from the Bridge, Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Die Fledermaus, Music Man, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, West Side Story and A Little Night Music. She conducted a staged version of Carmina Burana with members of the Cirque du Soleil, and is credited with bringing TOO HOT TO HANDEL, the jazz/gospel version of Handel’s Messiah to Detroit, Chicago and Memphis.
In 2007, Suzanne founded the MOT Children’s Chorus, a program which provides exceptional choral and theatrical performance instruction in a professional environment to young singers in the metro-Detroit area. Every year, the children perform their own opera singing lead roles and chorus on the mainstage of the Detroit Opera House.
Watch Suzanne Mallare Acton conduct the final bars of the rousing Hallelujah Chorus from “Too Hot to Handel.”
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