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American soprano Deborah Polaski studied at the conservatories in Cincinnati and Indiana as well as in Graz, Austria, and took private instruction with George London, Erna Thiessen, and Anna Reynolds. At the beginning of her career, when she had regular engagements in Gelsenkirchen, Karls-ruhe, Hanover, Freiburg, and Mann-heim, she learned many roles from the dramatic soprano repertoire—from Beethoven’s Leonore to the heroines of Wagner and Strauss and Marie in Berg’s Wozzeck. Her international breakthrough came in 1988 when she made her Bayreuth Festival debut as Brünnhilde in The Ring; she has since sung the role there more often than any other soprano in the festival’s history. Polaski was subsequently invited to perform at all the major international venues, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York; the Royal Opera House in London; the Vienna, Munich, Dresden, and Hamburg Staatsoper companies; in Paris, Milan, and Barcelona; and at the Salzburg Festival. Her signature roles include Wagner’s Isolde and Strauss’s Elektra, a role that she has performed almost 200 times all over the world. Now in the fourth decade of her long career, Polaski tirelessly continues to learn new roles. In 2006 she added Ariane in Dukas’s Ariane et Barbe-Bleue to her repertoire and, in 2008, made her first appearance in Schoenberg’s Erwartung; she sang Kabanicha in Janácek’s Kát’a Kabanová in the 2012-11 season and the Countess Geschwitz in Berg’s Lulu in April 2012 and is currently studying the Nurse in Die Frau ohne Schatten and Ortrud in Lohengrin. As a concert singer, Polaski has collaborated with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, James Levine, and Lorin Maazel. Since 2003 she has held the honorary title “Austrian Kammersängerin,” and in 2010 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Cincinnati.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 30 August 1998 in excerpts from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, with the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra under James Levine