The American soprano, Dawn Upshaw, studied at Illinois Wesleyan University, receiving Bachelor of Arts degree in 1982. Then she pursued vocal training with Ellen Faull at the Manhattan School of Music in New York, receiving Master of Arts degree in 1984. She also attended courses given by Jan DeGaetani at the Aspen (Colorado) Music School. She was a winner of the Young Concert Artists auditions (1984) and the Walter M. Naumburg Competition (1985), and was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Young Artists Development Program.
Admired for her uncommon musicality and for the unaffected beauty of her singing, Dawn Upshaw is further esteemed for having paved a career path that is wholly her own. The integrity and freshness of conception that mark her choice of repertory and her interpretations have made her a model for a new generation of singer.
Applauded in the opera houses of New York, Paris, Salzburg, and Vienna for her portrayals of the great W.A. Mozart roles, Dawn Upshaw is equally renowned for work in more remote corners of the repertory - most recently, as the title character in George Frideric Handel's Theodora, triumphantly staged in Glyndebourne by Peter Sellars. This season she turns her attention to two new roles.
Already a Susanna of the first rank, Dawn Upshaw now takes up the role of Cherubino in the Metropolitan Opera's production of W.A. Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, and she returns to Salzburg as the heroine in a new production, by Robert Wilson, of Pelléas et Mélisande.
Two-thirds of Dawn Upshaw's calendar each season is set aside for work away from the opera stage - as a chamber musician, with major orchestras and in the recording studio. She is regarded as a consummate recitalist, as is confirmed by her 1996-1997 schedule, which included dates in Tokyo, London, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and debut recitals in Carnegie Hall and at the Salzburg Festival. It reveals much about Dawn Upshaw's attitude toward music making that her recital work tends to be collaborative in nature, resulting in several important ongoing partnerships. Her engagements with James Levine over the years have led to a recording of Debussy songs to be released at the end of March 1997 on Sony Classical. She tours annually with Richard Goode, and both Margo Garrett and Gilbert Kalish are also long-standing partners. In the 1995-1996 season, she commissioned a staging of J.S. Bach's cantata BWV 199 by Peter Sellars as part of a three concert series at New York's 92nd St 'Y' entitled "Voices of the Spirit". She rejoined Sellars in Paris in the Fall of 1996 when she appeared as Anne in his new production of Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, a role she recently recorded.
Deeply involved with the music of our time, Dawn Upshaw is a particular champion of the music of John Harbison, though he is only one of a number of composers who have written for her. Her advocacy of contemporary music is compellingly evident in a broad range of solo recordings, among which are several Grammy, Gramophone, and Edison prize winning discs.
A familiar performer on television, Dawn Upshaw has been a guest of President Clinton and Mrs Clinton on the NBC special, "Christmas in Washington". The BBC presented a prime-time telecast of her 1996 London Proms Concert, "Dawn at Dusk", in which she performed music of American music theatre repertory.
Dawn Upshaw holds an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Illinois Wesleyan University.