Matthew Ozawa is a stage director, artistic director and educator whose international career spans all artistic disciplines including opera, theater, musical theater, dance, video, world music and visual art. Ozawa is a master storyteller, whose “strikingly spare productions” (New York Times) are “a vivid demonstration of what opera is all about” (Opera News). His productions consistently “deliver brilliance on all fronts” (Chicago Tribune) and are filled with “breathtaking imagery” (Broadway World). Ozawa is the Founder and Artistic Director of Mozawa, a Chicago-based incubator advancing collaborative art and artists. Also a proponent of arts education, Ozawa is an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
Passionate about collaborative interdisciplinary performance, new work, and reigniting classics, Ozawa’s “stylish” and “intelligent” productions have been seen at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Minnesota Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Wolftrap Opera, Opera Colorado, Des Moines Metro Opera, Arizona Opera, Kentucky Opera, North Carolina Opera, Opera Siam and Asia Society among many others.
In opera, Ozawa divides his time between directing classics, rarely performed works, world premieres and musical theater. Recent productions of classic as well as rarely performed repertory include Madama Butterfly (Santa Fe Opera / Arizona Opera), Don Quichotte (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Romeo and Juliet (Minnesota Opera / Cincinnati Opera), Nabucco (Lyric Opera of Chicago), L'Opera Seria (Wolf Trap Opera), Le Nozze di Figaro (Opera Colorado / North Carolina Opera), Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Kentucky Opera), Arizona Lady (Arizona Opera), La Boheme (Opera Colorado / Opera North), and Les Mamelles de Tiresias / Le Pauvre Matelot (Wolf Trap Opera).
Committed to new and modern work, recent new production highlights include Ruo / Hwang’s An American Soldier (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), Perla / Murphy’s An American Dream (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Aucoin’s Second Nature (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Hanlon / Fleischmann’s After The Storm (Houston Grand Opera), Sucharitkul’s Snow Dragon (Skylight Music Theatre / Opera Siam), Larsen’s Frankenstein (West Edge Opera), and Regan / Fries’ The Memory Stone (Houston Grand Opera). In addition, Ozawa’s interest in hybrid storytelling has led him to direct pieces of musical theater including A Little Night Music (Houston Grand Opera / Des Moines Metro Opera) and Sweeney Todd (Skylight Music Theater).
Ozawa’s skill at working across artistic boundaries has led him to collaborate with the Grammy award winning contemporary music ensemble Eighth Blackbird (Hand Eye and Ghostlight), Placido Domingo (Celebrating Placido Domingo), Houston Ballet & Asia Society Houston (Tsuru), Mariachi Aztlon (Canciones y arias), Alexa Grae / Jon Wes (Vimeo music video – Sur La Nuit), and visual performance designer Candystations (Hand Eye) among others.
In 2013, Ozawa founded MOZAWA because of his commitment to cross-cultural interdisciplinary work. Having incubated numerous new works and fostered over 150 artists from all over the world, Mozawa has been featured in Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine, at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and by High Concept Laboratory. Ozawa led collaborations have included A Dream Play (an interdisciplinary production in collaboration with Bow & Hammer: Sponsored by High Concept Laboratory), Y Portraits: Origins and Y Portraits: Awakening (an art gallery experience featuring over 50 international artists from all mediums; in collaboration with Chicago Harp Quartet & Ho Etsu Taiko Ensemble), and Fallen (a theatrical adaptation of Akutgawa's In A Grove featuring collaborative composition by koto musician Yumi Kurosawa and electronic sound artist Mike Vernusky).
As an educator, Ozawa teaches movement, acting and directing to undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students at the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre & Dance. In addition, he has acted as lecturer for the School of Music at DePaul University, lecturer / stage director for the School of Music at North Park University, and instructor for Rider University / Westminster Choir College. As an acting and movement coach, Ozawa has worked with young professionals at the Santa Fe Opera, Ryan Opera Center (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Des Moines Metro Opera, Arizona Opera and Opera Colorado.
Ozawa’s own education in the industry led him to learn the business from the ground up. Starting at the Santa Fe Opera where he was a technical apprentice, he then proceeded to work as an Assistant Stage Manager, Stage Manager, Assistant Dramaturge, Assistant Director and then Associate Director all over the world. In any one of these capacities Ozawa has worked for Canadian Opera Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St Louis, Opera Colorado, Macau International Festival, Indianapolis Opera, and Off-Broadway. Throughout his formative years he was fortunate to work with and learn from some of the most world-renowned directors and artists including Meredith Monk, Peter Sellars, Isaac Mizrahi, Robert Carsen, Francesca Zambello, Chay Yew, David Alden, Bob Falls, Rob Ashford, Gary Griffin, James Robinson, and Francisco Negrin.
Upcoming Directing Engagements Include: TBA (New Production - San Francisco Opera), Giulio Cesare (Boston Lyric Opera), and The Three Queens (with Sondra Radvanovsky – Lyric Opera of Chicago).
Ozawa was raised in California followed by Singapore, and is a graduate of United World College of South East Asia and Oberlin Conservatory.
Photography: Christopher Fleck