Oberlin Conservatory of Music; BM and MM in Vocal Performance, Kent State University; doctoral studies in vocal performance and opera at Louisiana State University; major teachers and coaches include James F. Stuart, James Mismas, Patricia Havranek, Dale Moore, Gary Arvin, Eric Dalheim, Henry Holt, Robert Grayson and Martina Arroyo.
Ms. Harris has a diverse performing experience that ranges from singing the title role in Massenet's Manon with Baton Rouge Opera and Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Arizona Opera, both under the stage direction of famed basso, Giorgio Tozzi, to dancing Jerome Robbins original choreography along side Broadway star Bebe Neuwirth, in Cleveland Opera's highly acclaimed production of West Side Story.
In her many seasons as a leading lady and Assistant to the Director at Ohio Light Opera, Ms. Harris was featured in over thirty roles by major operetta composers such as Offenbach, Lehar, Strauss, Herbert, and Romberg. Harris has distinguished herself as an expert interpreter of the Gilbert and Sullivan style. Having sung nearly all of the G&S female roles, Ms. Harris is most noted for her portrayal of Yum-Yum in The Mikado, a role she performed more than 50 times at Ohio Light Opera, as well as Toledo Opera and the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago.
Her other credits include roles with Utah Festival Opera, Eugene Opera, Opera Theatre of San Antonio, and creating the role of Lola Lopez in the world premiere of Robert Ward's Lady Kate with Triangle Opera. On the concert stage, Ms. Harris has performed with symphony orchestras across the country. While serving as the Artistic Director of Prairie Fire Theatre (a professional light opera company in Bloomington, Illinois) she staged eight full productions including operetta and musical reviews. As a member of the voice faculty and assistant opera director at Illinois Wesleyan University, Ms. Harris directed many mainstage productions, including Gianni Schicchi, Die Fledermaus, and Trouble in Tahiti. Nationally, she has served as guest stage director for the production of Yeomen of the Guard at the prestigious Brevard Music Festival; and has worked as a choreographer/Assistant to the Director at Eugene Opera, Ohio Light Opera, and the North Carolina School of the Arts.
Her voice students have won major awards and scholarships to graduate schools, such as The Cleveland Institute of Music, The Manhattan School of Music, Florida State, University of Illinois, and Indiana University. Many of her students have attended the summer programs at Brevard Music Festival, AIMS, Daniel Ferro Vocal Institute and Opera Festival di Roma. Likewise, her music theater students have been successful working with major theater companies and national tours.
Ms. Harris is an active member of NATS, Opera America, and Pi Kappa Lambda. Prior to her appointment at UIUC in 2005, Dawn Harris served on the faculties of DePauw and Illinois Wesleyan Universities.