Baritone Juha Kotilainen studied singing with Olavi Hautsalo and Matti Tuloisela at the Sibelius-Academy. He received his voice diploma in 1985 and has studied further at courses given by Thomas Hampson in Britain and Peter Berne in Austria.
Juha Kotilainen made his debut at the Finnish National Opera as Dandini in Rossini’s La Cenerentola in 1986, and he has sung several roles at the FNO since then, including Count Almaviva (The Marriage of Figaro), Jussi (Leevi Madetoja’s Pohjalaisia/The Ostrobotnians) and Marcello (La Bohème). His other roles include the title role in Händel’s Tamerlano and Figaro in The Barber of Seville. He was also acclaimed for his performance as Count Tomsky in The Queen of the Spades in Tampere. Future engagements at the FNO will be Escamillo (Carmen) and The Mill foreman (Jenufa).
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 and Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and the title role in Don Giovanni, which he has also performed at the Bonn Opera and in Saar Music Festival as well as in Oulu Opera in 2006. In the 1996-97 season, he also appeared as Gunther in Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.
In spring 1996 Juha Kotilainen was invited again to the Tampere Opera, this time as Tonio Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, and he returned to the Finnish National Opera to appear as the Count in The Marriage of Figaro. In 1997, he appeared in the title role in Leevi Madetoja’s Juha in Oulu Opera. In 1997-99, Juha Kotilainen visited Savonlinna Opera Festival, as Alfio in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, and in the title role in Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Aleksis Kivi. In few summers in 2000’s he has been singing in the role of “Puikkanen” in Aulis Sallinen’s Horseman and their productions of new Finnish opera, The age of Dreams.
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 Leontes in Philippe Doesmans’ opera Wintermärchen. In 2000-2001 he has also returned to the Finnish National Opera as Marcello/La Bohème, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and Captain in John Adam’s opera Klinghoffer’s Death. Other engagements in 2001 have included a role e.g. in Boris Godunov in De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam and the Wintermärchen in Chatelet, Paris. 2002-2005 roles have included e.g. Faninal/Rosenkavalier in Brussels, Police officer/ Lady Macbeth von Mzensk in Barcelona and Mamoud/Klinghoffer’s Death, Mardyka/Arabella, Il Barone de Trombonok in Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims and Count Tomsky in The Queen of the Spades in the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki. In recent years Juha Kotilainen has premiered a number of Finnish new operas, among them 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).
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 and Haydn’s Creation under Peter Schreier, in Bach’s B minor Mass under Harry Christophers and Peter Schreier and as an oratorio soloist under Esa-Pekka Salonen and many others. His engagements have included e.g. Orff’s Carmina Burana, Sibelius’ Kullervo, Sibelius’ Karelia, Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ, Schubert’s Mass E flat major and Schubert’s Mass A flat major. Juha Kotilainen has sung e.g. Psalmus by Uuno Klami with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Jahrezeiten by Haydn with the Lahti Symphony / Helmut Rilling, Beethoven 9th Symphony with the Helsinki Philharmonic / Mikko Franck, Schönberg Gurre-Lieder in the Helsinki Festival under the baton of Jukka-Pekka Saraste and semi-staged St.John Passion with Peter Schreier in the Finnish National Opera. In 2004 he sang in Luciano Berio’s Stanze scored for baritone with the Helsinki Philharmonic in Musica Nova Festival. In Spring 2012 Kotilainen performed the world premiere of Olli Mustonen’s first Symphony’s baritone part with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and Tshaikovsky Symphony Orchestra in Moscow. Kotilainen was also the soloist of the Symphony later in 2012 with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Future engagements performing Mustonen’s Symphony include concert with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in spring 2014.