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Dawn Kotoski (born 1966) is an American operatic soprano who has a substantial international opera career. She began her career at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City during the late 1980s singing lighter lyric soprano and soubrette roles. She joined the Vienna State Opera for the 1993–1994 season and since then her career has been centered mostly in Europe. She is the wife of tenor Neil Shicoff.


Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Kotoski studied at the Manhattan School of Music and then entered the Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera.[1] She made her professional opera debut at the Met as Poussette in Jules Massenet's Manon on 22 September 1987 with Catherine Malfitano in the title role. She sang several more roles at the Met over the next couple years including Giannetta in Gaetano Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore with Dawn Upshaw, Ruth Ann Swenson, and Kathleen Battle alternating as Adina (1988–1989), the Dew Fairy in Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel (1988–1989), and one of the unborn children in Richard Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten.[2] In 1988 she sang the title role in Handel's Partenope with Opera Omaha[3] and in 1989 she sang the role of Sophie in Massenet's Werther with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.[4]

In 1990 she sang the role of Walter in Alfredo Catalani's La Wally with the Opera Orchestra of New York.[5] That same year she won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions which led to her New York City recital debut at the 92nd Street Y on 13 November 1990 accompanied by pianist Warren Jones and flautist Eugenia Zukerman.[1] She repeated the recital the following March at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. As a winner of YCA, she gave further recitals throughout the United States. In 1991 Kotoski made her debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Papagena in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Magic Flute,[6] her debut with Calgary Opera as Sussana in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, and she sang the soprano solos in Mozart's Mass in C minor at the Mostly Mozart Festival.[7] That same year she won Orchestra New England's soloist prize[8] and she made her debut with the Canadian Opera Company as Marzelline in Beethoven's Fidelio.[9] In 1992 she sang the role of Barbarina in a concert version of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Daniel Barenboim[10] and she sang the role of Galatea in Handel's Acis and Galatea with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under conductor Gerard Schwarz.

In 1993 Kotoski sang the soprano solo in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.[11] By this time Kotoski was already living with her future husband, operatic tenor Neil Shicoff, and she gave birth to their son Alexander in December 1992.[12] The couple eventually married in the spring of 1997.[13] That same year she joined the Vienna State Opera where she sang for the 1993–1994 season in such roles as Pamina in The Magic Flute, Oscar in Giuseppe Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, and Musetta in Giacomo Puccini's La bohème. During this time she also sang the role of Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto with the Opéra national du Rhin in Strasbourg, the role of Oscar at the Opéra Bastille in Paris and Servilia in "La clemenza di Tito" with Teatro Real in Madrid.[14]

In 1994 Kotoski joined the roster at Zurich Opera where she sang in many roles through 2000, including Pamina, Sophie, Gilda, Juliette, Musetta, Lisabetta in Umberto Giordano's La cena delle beffe, and Adele in Die Fledermaus.[14] In 1997 Kotoski sang the role of Zdenka in Richard Strauss's Arabella with Santa Fe Opera.[15] In 1998 she sang Musetta at the Bavarian State Opera, Jemmy in Gioachino Rossini's William Tell at the Vienna State Opera, and Lisa in a concert version of Vincenzo Bellini's La sonnambula in Munich opposite Edita Gruberova as Amina.[14][16] In 2000 she sang Zdenka opposite Cheryl Studer's Arabella at Opera Zurich.[17]

After a 14-year professional career, Kotoski retired from the operatic stage in 2001 to concentrate on her family.



  1. ^ a b Kozinn, Allan (November 18, 1990). "Review/Music; Soprano to Center Stage". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  2. ^ Metropolitan Opera Archives
  3. ^ Holland, Bernard (September 18, 1988). "Review/Opera; Handel in Light Mood, In Omaha 'Partenope'". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  4. ^ Rockwell, John (June 20, 1989). "Reviews/Music; Amid Novelties, 2 Staples in St. Louis". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  5. ^ Kozinn, Allan (April 21, 1990). "Review/Music; 'La Wally,' a Cult Classic, Edges Closer to the Spotlight". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  6. ^ Lyric Opera of Chicago Archives
  7. ^ Holland, Bernard (August 24, 1991). "Music in Review". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  8. ^ Sherman, Robert (April 12, 1992). "MUSIC; 'Faust' in West Hartford". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  9. ^ Hastings, Stephen (December 21, 1991). "In Review: from around the world: Toronto". Opera News. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  10. ^ Holland, Bernard (February 15, 1992). "Review/Music; An Outbreak of Concert Opera In Chicago With 3 From Mozart". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  11. ^ Oestreich, James R. (April 17, 1993). "Classical Music in Review". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  12. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (March 12, 1997). "Tenor Is Back at the Met After a Rewarding if Rocky Exile". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  13. ^ Hilferty, Robert (2000). "Wired". Opera News. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  14. ^ a b c Biography of Dawn Kotoski at (in German)
  15. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (July 30, 1997). "A Man Unafraid to Change, And Then to Sing About It". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  16. ^ Guilaume Tell, recorded live at the Vienna Staatsoper, 24 October 1998
  17. ^ L-Opera Archives, 1 June 2000