Marvin David Levy 1932-2015

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Marvin David Levy, the American composer who shot to fame at age 35 when his opera, Mourning Becomes Electra, premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in its inaugural season at Lincoln Center in 1967, died Monday in a nursing home in Fort Lauderdale after a short illness. He was 82 years old.

Levy’s opera, an adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s play of the same name, depicted the murderous and haunted Mannon family of New England in an intense, roiling score. The opera received mixed reviews at its Met premiere. In 1998, the Lyric Opera of Chicago presented a version of Mourning substantially revised by the composer, which received wide accolades. Mourning was subsequently produced with great success at Seattle Opera and New York City Opera.

Levy was a longtime resident of Fort Lauderdale. In 2013 Florida Grand Opera presented Mourning at the Broward Center in his hometown as well as in Miami.

“Marvin and Morning Becomes Electra were both such important parts of my life,” said soprano Lauren Flanigan who performed the lead role of Christine more than any other singer, including in the FGO performances.

“I loved spending time with him. He was always reworking the opera, wanting to make it work better for the audience. I just loved that every time we got together to put it on the stage again nothing was reductive. The spirit of the rehearsals was always creative.”

“I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside Marvin during our 2013 production of Mourning Becomes Electra,” said FGO general director Susan T. Danis. “We cast together, looked at concept together—it was amazing.  I will miss his spirit, sense of humor, and wit more than words can express.”

Levy is survived by a sister and nephew. Service arrangements are pending.

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3 Responses to “Marvin David Levy 1932-2015”

  1. Posted Feb 16, 2015 at 10:56 am by Linda Greenberg

    I read Marv’s (we called him that in our summer camp).obituary with deep sadness but also great nostalgia.
    He served as the drama director at our summer Camp Mitchell and Harlee) when when I was age 7-16. Marv directed many of the campers in .Broadway musical comedies and dramas. He was an intense perfectionist and insisted that we push ourselves to excellence. Being a performer in his shows was the highlight of our summers. He taught us perseverance and created self esteem.

    I will always remember his magnificent talent to inspire and teach!talent

  2. Posted May 20, 2015 at 11:00 pm by Jeffrey Moss

    Camp Harlee-Mitchell was a special place for those of us lucky enough to “grow up” there. I was 10 years old when Marv Levy was the Drama
    “Counselor” and his passion for “putting on the shows” introduced me to a life-long love of theatre and led me to a career as a director in the commercial theatre. I remember his “My Fair Lady” (the Big Show) in 1956 and I remember when I was in the shows. He was “tough” and made you do it “right”. A lesson never forgotten. Fortunately, some years ago I was able to tell him just how much he and those days on the stage at Harlee-Mitchell have meant to me. And always will.

  3. Posted May 09, 2023 at 4:05 am by Cathy Rollins

    I met Marvin Levy at grand opening of Josephine Leiser Opera House in Ft Lauderdale. He gave me his card. At the time I had a local tv show “Headliners” and asked to interview him. He agreed and he was most interesting and a delightful guest. A wonderful experience for me.
    I may have a copy of that.

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Mon Feb 9, 2015
at 4:41 pm