Written by Tina Hunter, Academic Department Manager, UW-Madison School of Music
Autumn colors and family time are among the things that Vienna-based dramatic soprano Elizabeth Hagedorn is looking forward to enjoying upon her return to Wisconsin. A native of Milwaukee, Hagedorn will be replacing soprano Julia Faulkner on the voice faculty while Faulkner spends the coming year teaching at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. With siblings in Waterloo, Cedarburg, and Madison (brother Henry is a retired entomologist who runs UW-Madison’s Journal of Insect Science), Hagedorn will have the opportunity to catch up with family as well as to enjoy the trees turning color this year. Hagedorn says that in addition to her family, she has missed what she calls, “the typical fall panorama (that) is a phenomenon of Northern America.”
Hagedorn will spend a year as the Visiting Associate Professor of Voice, a sweet homecoming for her. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and English summa cum laude from UW-Stevens Point before heading to the University of Colorado to earn a Master’s degree in Music and Voice Pedagogy cum laude. Hagedorn notes that, “The most exciting thing about coming to Madison is being a part of an environment in which exactly those things I’ve learned and experienced are what can make a difference for the students ready to take a step toward becoming an artist. I love the feeling of coming full circle, back to my home state, back to education, and returning energy to the same kind of system that made my unlikely life as an opera singer a reality.”
Thanks to her father’s love of song, Hagedorn spent her childhood steeped in music. While her father was a Milwaukee postal service employee by day, in his free time he, too, was a very active musician. Mr. Hagedorn sang in the chorus of the Florentine Opera, conducted church choirs, created a Mail Chorus with his postal colleagues, and sang with the Cream City Four Barbershop Quartet. Many rehearsals occurred in the family living room, with young Elizabeth soaking it all in.
Fast forward a couple of decades and a few thousand miles, and we find Hagedorn now in her twenty-fourth year as an opera singer in Europe. Hagedorn has performed over fifty leading roles, debuting as a lyric-coloratura (Violetta, Konstanze, Elvira), and developing through the heavier lyric roles (Mimi, Rusalka, Suor Angelica, Don Carlo Elisabetta) to spinto and jugendlich-dramatic repertoire (Salome, Ariadne, Elsa, Ellen Orford, Tosca, Fidelio Leonore, Senta, Wozzeck Marie). Various world and European premieres of contemporary operas included the first Austrian performance of Michael Nyman’s “The Man who mistook his Wife for a Hat,” and a world premiere recording of Veerhoff’s “Desiderata” at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig.
SInce 2010, Hagedorn and her husband, the conductor Andreas Stoehr, have lived in Vienna. She established “Wien.Oper.Intensiv” performance workshops in Vienna, and has taught master classes at UW-Madison, UW-Stevens Point, University of Colorado – Boulder, and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Hagedorn has spent the summer teaching as a member of the voice faculty at the American Institute for Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria, the program through which she initially made her way to Europe. She has voice students eagerly awaiting her arrival with the beginning of the school year, and her first public performance is scheduled. On September 26, she will join pianist Martha Fischer to perform songs by composer Gustav Mahler for a performance during SoundWaves, the interdisciplinary music and scientific talk series curated by UW professor of horn, Daniel Grabois. By then the leaves should be changing color and her siblings should be well-visited. Welcome home, Elizabeth Hagedorn!