Magdalena Kožená was born in the Czech city of Brno and studied voice and piano at the Brno Conservatory and later with Eva Bláhová at Bratislava’s Academy of Performing Arts. She has been awarded several major prizes both in the Czech Republic and internationally, culminating in the Sixth International Mozart Competition in Salzburg in 1995.
Magdalena was signed by Deutsche Grammophon in 1999 and immediately released her first album of Bach arias on its Archiv label. Her recital debut recording, an album of songs by Dvořák, Janáček and Martinů, appeared on Deutsche Grammophon’s yellow label in 2001 and was honoured with Gramophone’s Solo Vocal Award. She was named Artist of the Year by Gramophone in 2004 and has won numerous other awards since, including the Echo Award, Record Academy Prize, Tokyo, and Diapason d’or. In 2017 she began a long-term relationship with Dutch classical music label Pentatone, and is due to release an album with them in 2019.
Magdalena has worked with many of the world’s leading conductors, Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Mariss Jansons, Sir Charles Mackerras and Sir Roger Norrington. Her list of distinguished recital partners includes the pianists Daniel Barenboim, Yefim Bronfman, Malcolm Martineau, András Schiff and Mitsuko Uchida, with whom she has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, and at the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh and Salzburg festivals. Magdalena’s understanding of historical performance practices has been cultivated in collaboration with outstanding period-instrument ensembles, including the English Baroque Soloists, the Gabrieli Consort and Players, Il Giardino Armonico, Les Musiciens du Louvre, La Cetra Barockorchester Basel, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Venice Baroque Orchestra and Le Concert d’Astrée. She is also in demand as soloist with the Berlin, Vienna and Czech Philharmonics and the Cleveland, Philadelphia and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestras.
Magdalena’s operatic roles include Zerlina in Don Giovanni at the Salzburger Festspiele in (2002), returning in 2013 as Idamante, a role she has also sung for the Glyndebourne Festival and in Berlin and Lucerne. Magdalena made her first appearance at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 2003 as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and has since been a regular guest, including amongst others the title-role in Jonathan Miller’s production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande in 2010/11. Other opera credits also include Oktavian in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier (Staatsoper Berlin 2009 and Osterfestspiele Baden Baden 2015), the title-role in Bizet’s Carmen (Osterfestspiele and Sommerfestspiele Salzburg 2012), Charpentier’s Médée (Theater Basel 2015) and Martinů’s Juliette (Staatsoper Berlin 2016).
More recent highlights for Magdalena include a Héroïnes baroques tour with Emmanuelle Haim and Concert d’Astrée in early 2018, and a flamenco and Spanish baroque tour of Europe in 2017. Here she was joined by Spanish Baroque ensemble Private Musicke, and Antonio El Pipa with his Compañía de Flamenco, where they entwined the roots of raw flamenco with the music of the Spanish Baroque era in venues such as the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and the home of flamenco - Madrid and Barcelona.
Magdalena began the 2018-19 season by joining the baroque ensemble, Collegium 1704 on a tour of the Czech Republic. In December 2018 she made her role debut as Phèdre in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie at the Deutsche Staatsoper under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. Other engagements this season include Handel’s Messiah with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati, a recital tour with pianist Mitsuko Uchida, Das Lied von der Erde with Sir Simon Rattle, and the Czech Philharmonic, and St. John’s Passion with the Berliner Philharmoniker. In May, Magdalena will visit some of Europe’s major cities with long-standing recital partner Yefim Bronfman, where they will perform songs by Brahms, Mussorgsky, and Shostakovich.
Magdalena was appointed a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2003 for her services to French music.
Photo by Oleg Rostovtsev