The award, voted annually by the Dallas Opera's subscribers, recognizes the singer "who has made the biggest impact in his (or her) Dallas Opera debut."
Dunleavy made her first appearance with the company this season as the four female leads in Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann.
Director of artistic administration Jonathan Pell said, "Mary Dunleavy conquered the hearts of our audiences in the face of unusually stiff competition this year. We had an extremely difficult time narrowing the field of nominees to eight, and a host of stellar company debuts that were as distinctive as they were remarkable. However, Mary topped them all in a display of nuanced and gifted artistry, energy, intelligence and acting ability—the very definition of 'star power'!"
The Callas Award, presented since 1992, is named for soprano Maria Callas, who gave a concert to inaugurate the company in 1957. The winner receives a crystal medallion etched with Callas's image, created by the Tiffany company. Previous winners include tenor Jerry Hadley, mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, and mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves.
Dunleavy's season also included her first performance as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, which took place at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and her debut at the Cincinnati May Festival. At the Metropolitan Opera, she appeared as Pamina in Die Zauberfl‹te, becoming just the third singer to sing both Pamina and the Queen of the Night at the Met.