Juha Kotilainen

Photo: Tuire Ruokosuo

Juha Kotilainen made his debut at the Finnish National Opera in 1986 as Dandini (Rossini's La Cenerentola)  and has performed ever since at the house singing such roles as Count Almaviva (Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro), Jussi (Leevi Madetoja's Pohjalaisia/The Ostrobotnians), Marcello (Puccini's La Bohème), Mamoud (John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer), Gunther (Wagner's Götterdämmerung) and Rambaldo (Puccini's La Rondine). His other roles at the FNO include Mandryka (Richard Strauss' Arabella), Il Barone di Trombonok (Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims), von Faninal (Der Rosenkavalier), Geronte di Ravoir (Manon Lescaut), Escamillo (Carmen) and Stárek the Mill foreman (Janáček's Jenufa).

Kotilainen has performed also regularly at Savonlinna Opera Festival in such roles as Alfio in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, in the title role in Einojuhani Rautavaara's Aleksis Kivi and in Aulis Sallinen's Horseman. Other major roles in Savonlinna have been e.g. Tamerlano in Händel's Tamerlano, Figaro in Rossini's the Barber of Seville, Count Tomsky in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, Tonio in Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci and in the title role in Leevi Madetoja's Juha.  

In 1990's Juha Kotilainen was engaged at the Aalto Theatre in Essen, where his roles included the title roles of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Bartók's Duke Bluebeard's Castle and Mozart's Don Giovanni,  Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte and Gunther in Wagner's Götterdämmerung.

Kotilainen has visited frequently many European opera houses in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain. In 1999-2000 Juha Kotilainen was engaged to the Théàtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels for the role of Antigonus and later for the leading role in Philippe Doesmans' opera Wintermärchen. Other engagements have included roles in Boris Godunov in De Nederlandse Opera (Amsterdam) in the Wintermärchen in Chatelet (Paris), as Faninal in Rosenkavalier in Brussels and as Police officer in Lady Macbeth von Mzensk in Barcelona.

Juha Kotilainen's repertoire also includes solo songs from classical Lied to contemporary works and bass and baritone solo parts in major church music works. He has appeared in Bach's St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion, Mass in B minor and Haydn's Creation under Peter Schreier, Harry Christophers, Helmut Rilling, Juha-Pekka Saraste and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Kotilainen has sung Schubert's Winterreise e.g. in Tokyo and he has performed in many European festivals in the Netherlands, Austria and Italy.

In recent years Juha Kotilainen has premiered a number of Finnish contemporary  operas, among them Jani Sivén's Abelard & Heloise (2008), Timo-Juhani Kyllönen's Kuninkaiden kirja (Cadiz 2009), Olli Kortekangas' Isän tyttö (Savonlinna Opera Festival 2007, FNO 2009), Ilkka Kuusisto's Taipaleenjoki (Ilmajoki Opera Festival 2010-12), Kimmo Hakola's La Fenice (Savonlinna Opera Festival 2012) and Timo-Juhani Kyllönen's The Seal (Savonlinna Opera Festival 2013). In spring 2012 Kotilainen performed the world premiere of pianist-composer Olli Mustonen's first Symphony's baritone part with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and later with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra in Moscow as well as with the Symphony Orchestra of Melbourne. Kotilainen was also the soloist of the Symphony later in 2012 with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2018 Kotilainen sings a central part in Olli Kortekangas' upcoming opera Veljeni vartija.