Dawn Harris, soprano 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.
Her vast experience as a director and choreographer has resulted in her directing full productions of opera, operetta and musical theatre for university opera programs and professional groups across the country. 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 prestigious Brevard Music Festival in North Carolina and has worked as a choreographer at Eugene Opera (Trial by Jury/The Mikado, Opera Cleveland (Pirates of Penzance), Ohio Light Opera (The Gondoliers), The North Carolina School of the Arts (La Perichole), and Bowling Green State University (Orpheus in the Underworld). In demand as a guest clinician, Ms. Harris has given master classes for the “singer-actor” at universities including Louisiana State and Northwestern. Ms. Harris, is currently Instructor of Voice, Co-Director of Opera Studio at the University of Illinois and Director of the ISYM Musical Theatre Camp. Prior to her appointment at UIUC in 2005, 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.
Recently, Ms. Harris made two directorial debuts: University of Illinois Opera Theatre’s Production of South Pacific and for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas production of The Magic Flute. Other engagements include directing The Medium for U of I Opera Studio, singing the role of Margaret Johnson in The Light in the Piazza for the Celebration Company at the Station Theatre, directing Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida for Southern Ohio Light Opera , starring Faith Esham as Ida, singing the soprano II solos in Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Baroque Artists of Champaign Urbana, performed operetta arias on An Evening of Strauss Waltzes and Viennese Bonbons at the Allerton Barn Festival and sang role of Julia Child in Lee Hoiby's one woman opera, "Bon Appetit!" with the Prairie Ensemble, performing the role of Illona in The Game of Love at the Station Theatre, stage directing and singing the role of Ruth in The Pirate of Penzance at the Allerton Music Barn Festival at the University of Illinois and stage directing Suor Angelica for Northwestern University's Vocal Seminar. Her most recent engagements include stage directing Orpheus in the Underworld for Lyric Theatre at Illinois and The Mikado for Sinfonia da Camera; Ian Hobson, conductor and singing the role of Letitia Primrose in On The Twentieth Century. She recently was a featured session presenter at the 2015 National Opera Association Convention performing her lecture/recital: "The Lesser Known Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan". Upcoming events: stage directing An Evening of Opera Scenes for Lyric Theatre at Illinois, assistant directing Polly Peachum- a new musical play written by Billy Van Horn and Gene Scheer, singing the role of Cinderella's Mother in Into The Woods for Lyric Theatre at Illinois and stage directing/choreography for Pirates of Penzance for
CUTC Annual Youth Production at Parkland College.