Mezzo soprano Kathryn Cowdrick recently celebrated her 30th anniversary as a performer by appearing as Despina in Opera Saratoga’s production of Cosi fan tutte– the very first opera role she undertook in 1981 . She is a graduate with distinction of Penn State and Columbia University with degrees in speech and voice pathology. She was a member of the Juilliard Opera Center and began her singing career when awarded an Adler Fellowship with the San Francisco Opera. She participated in the Merola Opera program and sang the leading role in the Western Opera Theatre tour of La Cenerentola. She went on to sing in productions there that include Adriana Lecouver, Falstaff, Manon, Faust, Pique Dame, Il Ritorno di Ulisse, Il turco in Italia, Der Rosenkavalier and Jenufa.
Opera News has described Kathryn Cowdrick as an artist who “brightly infused every scene with her singing, dazzling fioratura, and her sexy, warm, comedienne personality”, a remark which seems to convey the essence of this charismatic mezzo-soprano. She has worked with many international and regional companies that include the Spoleto Festival dei due Mondi (Madama Butterfly), Wexford Festival Ireland (Return to Mecca), Scottish Opera (Il barbiere di Siviglia), New York City Opera (The Mikado), Washington National Opera (Merry Wives of Windsor), Los Angeles Opera (Katya Kabanova and Cosi Fan Tutte), Tulsa Opera (The Crucible) , the Carmel Bach Festival (Orfeo),the Opera Festival of NJ (Postcard from Morocco) and Nederlandse Opera where she made her European debut in Dario Fo’s staging of Il barbiere di Siviglia. She appeared in productions of Cosi Fan Tutte, A Little Night Music and HMS Pinafore at the Wildwood Festival. Well- known for her Rossini heroines, she has sung leading roles in Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola, L’italiana in Algeri and Comte Ory with the opera companies of Koln, Chautauqua, Utah, Memphis , Vancouver , Kentucky, the National Arts Center in Ottowa and on tour with Scottish Opera and New York City Opera.
She is now in demand as one of our most respected singing actresses- appearing in the past few seasons as Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd) for the Princeton Festival , Old Prioress (Dialogue of the Carmelites) for Arizona Opera, Marquise(Le fille du Regiment) for Kentucky, Arizona and Lake George Opera, Berta (Il barbiere di Siviglia) for Florentine , Tulsa, Arizona and New York City Opera, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel and Augusta Tabor (Ballad of Baby Doe ) for Augusta Opera, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly for Artpark, Aunt March (Little Women) and Ruth (Pirates of Penzance) for Ft. Worth Opera, Fidalma (Il Matrimonio Segreto), Zita (Gianni Schicci/Buoso’s Ghost ) and the Old Woman in Candide for Lake George Opera Saratoga . She also appeared as Mrs. Gibbs in the professional premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town. She sang Katisha (The Mikado) at New York City Opera and the Opera Festival of New Jersey, and the title role of Orfeo for Opera Memphis in 2010.
Miss Cowdrick sang the role of Julia Child in Hoiby’s opera Bon Appetit for Child’s induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007-an opera recently recorded for Albany Records. She can be heard as Charmian on the 1984 Grammy- award winning album of Antony and Cleopatra recorded live at the Spoleto Festival and Jenufa recorded live from Carnegie Hall on Gramaphone Bis with the Opera Orchestra of New York starring Leonie Rysanek, Gabriella Benackova and conducted by Eve Queler.
She is one of those rare singers who continues be an active performer while teaching, having sung in over 40 regional productions since coming to Eastman, including the title role in The Medium with Eastman Opera Theatre. At Eastman, she teaches studio voice and vocal pedagogy. She is a yearly adjudicator for Classical Singer Magazine’s competition and gives master classes to the Young Artist Programs on Vocal Health/ Performance Pedagogy. She has been on the summer faculty of the Seagle Colony and the Taos Opera Institute
Roles for the 2011-13 seasons include singing Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro) for the Ft. Worth Opera Festival and Utah Opera, Madame Halitiere for Kentucky Opera’s Cendrillon ,Ruth (Pirates of Penzance) for Chautauqua Opera, Meg Page in Falstaff for Mercury Opera Rochester and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly for Opera Southwest and Sugar Creek Opera Festival.
For the 2011-2014 seasons, her students have been members of Young Artist Programs that include the Merola Program of the San Francisco Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Ft.Worth Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Crested Butte Festival, Santa Fe Opera, Ohio Light Opera, Florentine Opera, Boston Early Music Festival, Opera Saratoga, Caramoor Festival, Aspen Music Festival, College Light and the Baldwin Wallace Art Song Festival. Past graduates are on the teaching faculties of Nazareth College, Gettysburgh College, Syracuse University, Indiana University-Ft. Wayne and two are attending medical school in pursuit of a specialty in otolaryngology.