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Renowned Soprano Deborah Polaski to Receive Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati


Deborah Poe Polaski will be honored at UC’s June 12 Commencement Ceremony.

Date: 5/13/2010 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Provided

UC ingot   Internationally acclaimed soprano Deborah Poe Polaski will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Performing Arts at the University of Cincinnati Commencement Ceremony at 9 a.m., Saturday, June 12, in Fifth Third Arena at Shoemaker Center. The honorary degree represents the highest award from the University of Cincinnati.
Deborah Poe Polaski
Deborah Poe Polaski

Polaski is praised as one of the premiere dramatic sopranos of her generation, dominating the greatest international opera stages. She is famous for her interpretation of all great dramatic roles by Wagner and Strauss, of Marie in Berg’s “Wozzeck,” of the Kostelnicka in “Jenufa,” of Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” and – since her debut with the Salzburg Festival in 2000 – of Cassandre and Didon in “Les Troyens” and many others.

The focal point of her career has been the demanding title role in “Elektra,” which she has performed with the world’s leading conductors. It was a role she performed under the direction of Nicholas Muni at Cincinnati’s Music Hall in 2002. Since her debut in the role in Darmstadt, Germany in 1984, she has sung it more than 184 times throughout the world.

In 1988, she received recognition at the Bayreuth Festival in the role of Brunnhilde, conducted by Daniel Barenboim. She is a veteran of 20 complete “Rings” at Bayreuth. No singer since 1914 has sung Brunnhilde as often at Bayreuth as Polaski.

Born in Wisconsin and raised singing in the church of her Protestant minister father, Polaski attended the UC College-Conservatory of Music from 1972-1975, studying with voice teacher Lucille Evans. She then worked with George London and Irma Cooper on scholarship at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, “an operatic finishing school.”

She has made recordings and DVDs of operas by Berlioz, Wolf-Farrari, Strauss and Wagner.

Polaski also takes time to coach and teach the next generation of singers in master classes and private lessons. In an interview in 2006, she said, “I enjoy being able to pass on valuable lessons learned through my career experiences….”

“The best advice I can give a younger singer is – listen to your instinct. Don’t rush your natural process to accommodate a plan that is not your own or is not right for you.”