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Kaaren Erickson (Soprano)

Born: 1953 (?) - Seattle, Washington, USA
Died: August 30, 1997 - Maryville, Tennesse, USA

The American soprano, Kaaren Erickson, studied with Marshal Singher at the Santa Barbara Academy of Music, in California..

Kaaren Erickson began her professional career in Europe. She made her San Francisco Opera debut in a production of Massenet's Cendrillon in 1982. The same year she won first prize at the Munich International Competition. In 1984, she made her New York City Opera debut as Pamina in Mozart's Magic Flute, and during the 1985-1986 seasoin she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. She was on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for 12 years (1985-1997) and sang there also Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni and Alice Ford in Verdi's Falstaff, as well as roles in Wagner's Gotterdammerung and Das Rheingold, Strauss's Elektra, Francis Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites and John Corigliano's Ghosts of Versailles.

Kaaren Erickson also appeared regularly around the world in concerts, singing Richard Strauss' Four Last Songs at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Neville Marriner and performing the solos in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. Eight with both conductor James Levine (at the Ravinia Festival) and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich and the Washington Symphony. She also performed regularly as a soloist in performances of L.v. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, G. Mahler's Fourth Symphony, the Mozart Requiem and George Frideric Handel's Messiah. In 1989 she performed at the Baldwin-Wallace College Bach Festival in Ohio.

While Kaaren Erickson made regular concert and opera appearances in Seattle, both with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Seattle Opera, her impact in the opera and concert world reached far afield to Europe and Asia. Many of her career milestones came with Gerard Schwarz, music director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, who invited her frequently to perform with the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York and also at the decade-long "Schubertiade" of the 92nd St. "Y" in New York.

Although she was well known for her Mozart operas and G.F. Handel oratorios, While Kaaren also was a noted exponent of contemporary music, such as Philip Glass's most recent opera. Composer Gordon Getty chose her to record his song cycle based on poems of Emily Dickinson, The White Election.

In 1995, when Kaaren Erickson underwent cancer surgery at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Institute, her husband, opera singer Edward Sooter returned to the hospital after singing a Good Friday service to discover superstar tenor Plácido Domingo in his wife's room. The famous visitor brought "every nurse on the floor, who suddenly wanted to check on Kaaren," Sooter recalls, "and the doctor did his rounds two hours early that day. "Domingo, who must be the most wonderful man in opera, was worried that Kaaren might be bored in the hospital, so he brought her half a dozen discs to listen to - Plácido Domingo discs, of course," he said.

Only a few days before her death this past weekend, Kaaren Erickson spent the entire night - from before midnight until after 6 a.m. - singing arias and songs from her extensive repertoire. She knew there wouldn't be time to sing them again. She died on August 30, 1997, at the age of 44, after a two-year battle against cancer. In addition to her husband, daughter and mother, Erickson is survived by two sisters, Heidi Herr and Jennifer Herr, both of Chelan, a niece, two nephews and a grandniece.

Kaaren Erickson recorded Messiah with Robert Shaw (for Telarc Records), and sang on recordings of Parsifal (with James Levine, on Deutsche Grammophone), Dvorak's Stabat Mater (with Zdenek Macal, on Delos), and The White Election by Gordon Getty (also on Delos).

Source: Obituary in Seattle Times (Author: Melinda Bargreen; September 1997); Obituary in New York Times (Author: Allan Kozinn; September 1997
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2010); Manfred Krugmann (Photo 01, May 2011)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Dwight Oltman


BWV 180, BWV 232 [4th]

Links to other Sites

Kaaren Erickson, Seattle Soprano Who Sang At Met (Seattle Times)

Music: Debuts In Review; Kaaren Erickson (NY Times) [Mar 1986]
Kaaren Erickson, 44, Soprano With the Metropolitan Opera (NY Times) [Sep 1997]

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