Odyssey Medal

Susan Dunn Tilley

DunnThe emergence of a true Verdi soprano is an event of international importance in the music world, and Susan Dunn has achieved not only this Verdian stature, but has been equally acclaimed for her Wagner, Mahler, Strauss and recital singing during the meteoric rise of her career. This American soprano has demonstrated her extraordinary gifts on the world's most challenging stages: La Scala in Milan, where she made her debut in Aïda; New York's Carnegie Hall, where she created a sensation in a concert performance of Act I of Wagner's Die Walküre; at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall where she appeared with the New York Philharmonic in the Verdi Requiem and Strauss' Four Last Songs; with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Leonora in Verdi's La Forza del Destino; at Chicago's Orchestra Hall in a concert performance of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra; at the Vienna State Opera as Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera and at the Australian Opera as Desdemona in Otello.

 She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in Il Trovatore in February of 1990. She has worked with the world's preeminent maestros, including Sir Georg Solti, Riccardo Chailly, Claudio Abbado, James Conlon, Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Zubin Mehta and Daniel Barenboim. 

A native of Bauxite, Ark., Dunn is completely American trained, having studied at Hendrix College, at Indiana University and then at the University of Illinois privately with the renowned coach and accompanist, John Wustman. 

During the final years of her studies, Dunn began to attract the attention of the music world and also to win prestigious awards: the D'Angelo Young Artist Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Award and the Opera Company of Philadelphia/Luciano Pavarotti International Vocal Competition, and then in 1983 three major honors - The Richard Tucker Award, Chicago's WGN-Illinois Opera Competition and the Dallas Morning News - G.B. Dealey Award. 

Dunn's initial successes brought her to the attention of major musical capitals, and she was soon appearing on their stages. She made her Italian operatic debut at Bologna's Teatro Comunale in Verdi's seldom heard I Vespri Siciliani. This was soon followed by her La Scala debut in the title role of Aïda; she triumphed as Leonora in Il Trovatore at the Washington Opera and her debut with the New York Philharmonic followed in performances of the Verdi Requiem. She has also appeared with the orchestras of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the Berlin Radio Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Chicago Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony and at major international festivals including Tanglewood, the Cincinnati May Festival, Ravinia, Wolf Trap, the Casals Festival, Edinburgh and  Saint-Denis. Opera appearances have included the Lyric Opera of Chicago in La Forza del Destino, and Aïda, the Dallas Opera in Don Carlo, the Houston Opera in Un Ballo in Maschera, the Vienna State Opera, again in Un Ballo in Maschera, the Australian Opera in Otello and Simon Boccanegra,  a return to the Teatro Comunale di Bologna for a major revival of Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco, and the  Cologne Opera for Simon Boccanegra

Dunn has recorded an album of arias for London/Decca Records with Riccardo Chailly conducting.  She sings Tove in London/Decca's recording of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder and appears on that label's recording of Mahler's Das Klagende Lied, all with Maestro Chailly conducting. In addition to Act I of Die Walküre (with Lorin Maazel conducting) recorded for the Telarc label, Miss Dunn is also the soprano soloist in their release of the Verdi Requiem. This recording, with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony, was awarded a "Grammy" as the Album  of the Year of 1988. The Giovanna d'Arco and I Vespri Siciliani performances from Bologna are also available on video. I Vespri Siciliani was re-released in 2005 on DVD format by Kultur.

In addition to a busy concert schedule, Miss Dunn serves as head of the vocal program at Duke University where she teaches voice, directs the Opera Workshop, and is Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Music.  The Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation honored Miss Dunn with its Baccarat Award for achievement in the arts in 2005.