She was born in Canada and graduated from the University of Manitoba in English Literature and Theatre. She trained as an actor at the Vancouver Playhouse Acting School, performed leading roles in theatres across Canada, and was the first graduate of the Stage Directing Programme at the University of Toronto Opera Division.
Directing credits include Giiwedin for Native Earth Performing Arts, La Voix Humaine for Le Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, Orfeo for The Conservatory of Antwerp (both with Waut Koeken), Rigoletto for Kentucky Opera Operaworks, and Albert Herring, La Rondine, and The Threepenny Opera for the University of Toronto Opera Division. Maria commissioned and directed the award winning play Enoch Arden in the Hope Shelter by Canadian playwright Judith Thompson, based on the melodrama by Richard Strauss.
Maria has worked as an assistant and a revival director for opera companies all over the world, and frequently assists Canadian opera director Robert Carsen. Selected assisting and revival credits include Kát'a Kabanová and Candide for La Scala, Milan, Jenufa (Opera de Oviedo, De Vlaamse Opera, Saito Kinen Festival Japan, Le Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, Opéra du Rhin), Fidelio, (DNO, Maggio Musical Festival Firenze), The Cunning Little Vixen, Il Trittico, Madama Butterfly (De Vlaamse Opera) Loss of Eden (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis), Das Rheingold (The Canadian Opera Company), Candide (Châtelet, ENO, Hyogo Performing Arts), Partenope, The Turn of the Screw (Theater an der Wien) Carmen and Castor and Pollux, (The Netherlands Opera).