The Czech mezzo-soprano, Magdalena Kožená, gathered her first music and singing experience with the Children's Chorus of Brno. Between 1987 and 1991 she attended Brno Conservatory, where her teachers included Neva Megová (singing) and Jiri Pesa (piano). She later studied with Eva Blahová at the College of Performing Arts in Bratislava, graduating in 1995. Even while still a student, Magdalena Kožená was already winning prizes in major competitions both at home and abroad: in 1995, for example, she was acclaimed as the Most Talented Performer of the Czech Republic in the country’s classical music awards, as well as being a prize-winner in the sixth International Mozart Competition in Salzburg.
In the wake of these successes, Magdalena Kožená twice toured Japan and the USA and recorded her first solo recital disc. In 1996 she sang both Dorabella (Cosi fan tutte) and Isabella (L’Italiana in Algeri) for the Janáček Opera in Brno, appeared at the Prague Spring Festival and performed to great acclaim at the Concertus Moraviae Festival. During the 1996-1997 season she was a member of the Vienna Volksoper, where her roles included Annio (La Clemenza di Tito) and Harmia (A Midsummer’s Night Dream). In 1997 she toured central Europe performing arias by J.S. Bach. She has also sung in Gustav Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Czech Philharmonic under Libor Pesek and was acclaimed as a Paride in Gluck’s Paride ed Elena at the Drottningholm Festival. Other engagements have included Idamante under Marc Minkowski for the Flanders Opera, a solo recital (also televised) at the Prague Rudolfinum with Graham Johnson and a recital disc of works by Dvořák, Janáček and Martinŭ, also with Graham Johnson.
In 1999 Magdalena Kožená made her Aix-en-Provence Festival début as Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea with Marc Minkowski and appeared with them also in Vienna. She also appeared in concerts with La Petite Bande under Sigiswald Kuijken and with Musica Antiqua Köln under the direction of Reinhard Goebel. In 1999-2000 season she also sang Orphée (Orphée et Eurydice/Gluck) at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, directed by Robert Wilson.In the year 2000 she participated in John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage. In 2000-2001 season she sang Sesto (La clemenza di Tito/W.A. Mozart) at the Edinburgh Festival, Mélisande (Pelléas et Mélisande/Debussy) at the Leipzig Opera Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro/W.A. Mozart) at the Aix-en-Provence and Baden-Baden Festivals under Marc Minkowski. She was the Echo Klassik prizewinner 2000: “Best New Artist".
In 2001-2002 season Magdalena Kožená sang Sesto in Giulio Cesare by George Frideric Handel at the Netherlands Opera under Marc Minkowski, appered as a soloist (St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244)/ J.S. Bach) with Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Players in London, Lisbon, Munich, Aldeburgh, participated in performances with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Marc Minkowski in Ferrara and at the Opéra-Comique, Paris, as Mélisande (Pelléas et Mélisande/Debussy). At the Salzburg Festival she sang Zerlina (Don Giovanni/W.A. Mozart) under Nikolaus Harnoncourt, W.A. Mozart's C minor Mass and Thamos music, and Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem under Marc Minkowski. She also made European recital tour with pianist Malcolm Martineau in London, Paris, Antwerp, Prague, Steensgard (Denmark), at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg (Austria), in Hamburg, and Helsinki. In 2002-2003 season she particiaped in Les Musiciens du Louvre 20th Anniversary Concert with Minkowski at the Châtelet in Paris, Wigmore Hall recital and tour of Japan with Malcolm Martineau, Idamante in Peter Sellars's production of Idomeneo at Glyndebourne, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Other summer festival appearances included Mostly Mozart in London at the Barbican, Verbier, Utrecht Festival of Early Music (G.F. Handel recital with counter-tenor Thierry Grégoire), Schubertiade Schwarzenberg (recital with Malcolm Martineau).
In 2003-2004 season Magdalena Kožená participated in performances of Idomeneo with Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker in Berlin, Lucerne, and at the Salzburg Easter Festival London, Paris, and Lisbon concert performances, and Archiv recording of Gluck's Paride ed Elena with Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & Players, Cherubino at the Met and Bavarian State Opera, Dorabella at the Salzburg Easter Festival. She also made an extensive recital tours of the USA and Europe including New York's Carnegie Hall, London's Wigmore Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
CD recordings (all on DGG or DGG/Archiv): J.S. Bach: Whitsun Cantatas/English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner, G.F. Handel: Dixit Dominus; Salve Regina etc./Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski, Rameau: Dardanus/Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski (Diapason d'or 2000, Record Academy Prize, Tokyo, 2001), Love Songs: Songs by Dvorák, Janácek, Martinù/Graham Johnson (Gramophone Award 2001); J.S. Bach: Cantatas/English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner, G.F. Handel: Italian Cantatas/Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski; Arias by Gluck, W.A. Mozart, Myslivecek/Prague Philharmonia, Swierczewski (Echo Klassik Award 2002), Messiah/Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski; J.S. Bach: St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244)/Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh, G.F. Handel: Giulio Cesare/Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski, French Opera Arias/Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski; A recital disc with Malcolm Martineau of song cycles by Benjamin Britten, Ravel, Ottorino Respighi, Schulhoff, and Dmitri Shostakovich; also recorded in 2003 for release later: Bachiana III - arias, cantatas, and scenes by the Bach Family, with Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua Köln.