Oberlin Conservatory of Music; BM and MM in Vocal Performance, Kent State University; doctoral studies in vocal performance and opera at Louisiana State University; major teachers and coaches include James F. Stuart, James Mismas, Patricia Havranek, Dale Moore, Gary Arvin, Eric Dalheim, Henry Holt, Robert Grayson and Martina Arroyo
Dawn Harris is a versatile artist who has won critical acclaim for her performances of opera, operetta, concerts and musical theatre works in a wide range of repertoire. Performance highlights include the title role in Massenet’s “Manon “with Baton Rouge Opera and Zerlina in “Don Giovanni “with Arizona Opera, both under the direction of bass Giorgio Tozzi; dancing Jerome Robbins’ original choreography alongside Broadway veteran Bebe Neuwirth in Cleveland Opera’s production of “West Side Story”;and singing the soprano solos in Poulenc’s “Gloria “with the New Orleans Symphony. In her many seasons at Ohio Light Opera, Ms. Harris was featured in over 30 roles written by major operetta composers. Some of her most memorable roles include Fiametta in “Boccaccio”, Kathy in “The Student Prince”, Pepi in “Weiner Blut”, Christel in “Der Vogelhaendler “, Natalie in “The Merry Widow” (opposite Paul Groves), Bessie in “Merry England “and Gabrielle in “La Vie Parisienne”. Having distinguished herself as an expert interpreter of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas, Ms. Harris has sung nearly all the female roles. She is most noted for her portrayal of Yum-Yum in “The Mikado”, a role she has performed more than 50 times at Ohio Light Opera, as well as, Toledo Opera and at the Grant Park Music Festival. Other operatic and concert highlights include roles with the Utah Festival Opera, Eugene Opera, Opera Theatre of San Antonio and Arkansas Opera Theatre; creating the role of Lola Lopez in the world premiere of Robert Ward’s “Lady Kate” at Triangle Opera; soloist in Handel’s “Messiah” with the Utah Symphony performed in the Mormon Tabernacle; and soloist in Mozart’s “Requiem “with the Baton Rouge Symphony; concert repertoire and pops with New Orleans, Dayton, Champaign-Urbana, Sinfonia da Camera, Illinois Chamber Orchestra, Prairie Ensemble, BACH and Heartland Philharmonic.
Ms. Harris is currently Instructor of Voice , Resident Stage Director for Lyric Theatre @ Illinois and Director of the ISYM Musical Theatre Camp at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Prior to her appointment at Illinois, Ms. Harris was the Director of Opera and Assistant Professor of Voice at DePauw University and was on the Voice and Opera faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Her vast experience as a director has resulted in her directing full productions of opera, operetta and musical theatre for university opera programs and professional companies across the country. She has distinguished herself as an expert interpreter of Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas and as Artistic Director of Prairie Fire Theatre and Stage Director, Ms. Harris launched a ten year Gilbert and Sullivan Festival and directed “The Mikado”, “Pirates of Penzance”, “H.M.S. Pinafore”, “The Gondoliers”, “Ruddigore” and “Iolanthe”. Nationally, she was invited as a guest director to stage “The Yeomen of the Guard” at the Brevard Music Festival ,” Princess Ida” for Southern Ohio Light Opera , starring Faith Esham as Ida, “Ruddigore”and “ Trial by Jury” for Greensboro, North Carolina Light Opera and Song Festival and “The Mikado” for Sinfonia da Camera. Ms. Harris was assistant choreographer for “ Trial by Jury” for Eugene Opera and “Pirates “for Opera Cleveland. She recently presented a lecture /recital “The Lesser Known Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan” at the National Opera Association Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina and returned to the stage ,directing and singing the role of Ruth in “The Pirates of Penzance “ performed with Sinfonia da Camera.
Additional directing and choreography credits include, “The Magic Flute “ for The University of Nevada- Las Vegas, “Suor Angelica” and “Hansel and Gretel”for Northwestern University Summer Vocal Institute,”Gianni Schicchi “ and “ Die Fledermaus “ for Illinois Wesleyan University, “Orpheus in the Underworld “ for Bowling Green State and Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, “ La Perichole “ for The North Carolina School of the Arts. Last June ,Ms. Harris was on the guest voice and opera faculty of The Lyric Theatre in Piobbico, Italy Festival.
As a musical theatre director, Ms. Harris has directed full productions of “ Man of La Mancha”, “ South Pacific”, “ Merrily We Roll Along”, “ Oh, Coward” and most recently, “ The Light in the Piazza” for Lyric Theatre @ Illinois.
As Resident Director for Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, Ms. Harris is stage director for Opera Scenes. She has directed scenes from the standard and contemporary opera repertoire and won first place in the Graduate Division for the National Opera Association Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition for her staging of scenes from Britten’s “Turn of the Screw”. With the Illinois Modern Ensemble, Ms. Harris has collaborated on premiere stagings of new operas as part of the Lyric Theatre @ Illinois season. She has staged “Letters from Quebec to Providence in the Rain” by composer, Jeremy Gill and most recently, “ The Surrogate “ by composer, Sky Macklay.