Radiant American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke caused a sensation as Kitty Oppenheimer in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of John Adams’s "Doctor Atomic," the DVD release of which won the 2012 Grammy Award® for Best Opera Recording. She was praised in The New Yorker for her “fresh, vital portrayal, bringing a luminous tone, a generously supported musical line, a keen sense of verbal nuance, and a flair for seduction.”
During the summer of 2012, Sasha Cooke opened the Hollywood Bowl’s summer season in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Leonard Slatkin and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and also appeared at Music@Menlo and the RoundTop Festival. She appeared in the closing concerts of the Aspen Music Festival and the Mostly Mozart Festival, with Robert Spano in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and with Louis Langrée in Beethoven’s Mass in C, respectively. The new season marks her San Francisco Opera debut as the title role in the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, as well as her role debuts as Magnolia in Francesca Zambello’s production of "Show Boat" at Houston Grand Opera and as Sonja in Dominick Argento’s "The Aspern Papers" at Dallas Opera. She returns to the San Francisco Symphony in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas, gives the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’s Earth Echoes with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, appears with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center both in New York and in Mecklenberg, Germany, and sings Mahler’s Third Symphony with the Orchestre de Lyon. She also sings Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony with Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony, and "Alexander Nevsky" with Pinchas Steinberg and the Cleveland Orchestra. She returns to the New York Festival of Song for a program exploring the lives of women, joins the Miró Quartet for music of Respighi and Schubert with Friends of Chamber Music Denver, and sings "Das Lied von der Erde" with the Columbus Symphony.
Ms. Cooke won the 2007 Young Concert Artists International Competition and subsequently appeared in recital at Carnegie’s Weill and Zankel halls, Alice Tully Hall, and the Mondavi Center, among others, often alongside her husband, baritone Kelly Markgraf. She has sung with leading conductors and orchestras including Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony, Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony, Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony, and Edo de Waart with both the Milwaukee Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. A former member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, her Met performances in "Doctor Atomic" and "Hänsel und Gretel" were also broadcast live in high definition to cinemas around the world. Awards and honors include First Place and the American Prize in the José Iturbi International Music Competition, Top Prize in the Gerda Lissner Competition, and the Kennedy Center’s Marian Anderson Award. Ms. Cooke is a graduate of Rice University and the Juilliard School.
Radiant American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke caused a sensation as Kitty Oppenheimer in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, the DVD release of which won the 2012 Grammy Award® for Best Opera Recording. She was praised in The New Yorker for her “fresh, vital portrayal, bringing a luminous tone, a generously supported musical line, a keen sense of verbal nuance, and a flair for seduction.”
During the summer of 2012, Sasha Cooke opened the Hollywood Bowl’s summer season in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Leonard Slatkin and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and also appeared at Music@Menlo and the RoundTop Festival. She appeared in the closing concerts of the Aspen Music Festival and the Mostly Mozart Festival, with Robert Spano in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and with Louis Langrée in Beethoven’s Mass in C, respectively. The new season marks her San Francisco Opera debut as the title role in the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, as well as her role debuts as Magnolia in Francesca Zambello’s production of Show Boat at Houston Grand Opera and as Sonja in Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers at Dallas Opera. She returns to the San Francisco Symphony in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas, gives the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’s Earth Echoes with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, appears with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center both in New York and in Mecklenberg, Germany, and sings Mahler’s Third Symphony with the Orchestre de Lyon. She also sings Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony with Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony, and Alexander Nevsky with Pinchas Steinberg and the Cleveland Orchestra. She returns to the New York Festival of Song for a program exploring the lives of women, joins the Mirò Quartet for music of Respighi and Schubert with Friends of Chamber Music Denver, and sings Das Lied von der Erde with the Columbus Symphony.
During the summer of 2011 Ms. Cooke sang at numerous festivals, including Brahms’s Liebeslieder Walzer at Caramoor and Music@Menlo, as well as the Alto Rhapsody and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 under the baton of Robert Spano in the closing concert of the 2011 Aspen Music Festival. The new season finds her returning to Carnegie Hall with Robert Spano and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in Bach’s Magnificat; singing Debussy’s Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony; and making her Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of Jiří Bělohlávek in John Harbison’s Fifth Symphony. She debuts with Leonard Slatkin and the Lyon Symphony in Mahler’s Second, performs the Asian premiere of John Corigliano’s One Sweet Morning with the Shanghai Symphony, and tours with the New Zealand Symphony in Mahler’s Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen and Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer. Ms. Cooke also sings Beethoven’s Ninth with the Houston and Kansas City symphonies, premieres a William Bolcom piece in recital with Marilyn Horne’s “The Song Continues” at Zankel Hall, and joins Musica Sacra for holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall.
The 2010/11 season brought several notable debuts for Sasha Cooke: with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in Mahler’s Rückert Lieder; with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Edo de Waart in Das Lied von der Erde; with Louis Langrée and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in Mozart’s Davidde penitente; and with Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in sacred music of Bach. She performed Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony both with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony and with Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony; reprised Alexander Nevsky and Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody with the Kansas City Symphony; essayed the title role in a concert version of Carmen with the Brazos Valley Symphony in Texas; and gave recitals at the Kennedy Center, Merkin Concert Hall, and the University of Minnesota.
Sasha Cooke opened the 2009/10 season of the Milwaukee Symphony with Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony in the inaugural concerts of new music director Edo de Waart. She performed two engagements with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony—Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and Berlioz’s Les nuits d’Été; joined Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and made her debut with the Hong Kong Philharmonic in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde under the baton of Maestro de Waart. She also sang Ravel’s Shéhérazade and Cinq mélodies populaires grecques with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Handel’s Messiah with the Seattle Symphony; Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony; Beethoven’s Ninth with Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony; Mozart’s Requiem with the San Diego Symphony; and Haydn’s “Lord Nelson” Mass with the Kansas City Symphony. On the opera stage, she made her Seattle Opera debut as Meg Page in Falstaff , conducted by Riccardo Frizza; and sang Medea in Cavalli’s seldom-performed Giasone at Chicago Opera Theater.
A dedicated recitalist, Ms. Cooke was presented by Young Concert Artists in her widely acclaimed New York and Washington debuts at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and at the Kennedy Center, as well as in concerts throughout the U.S. She has performed frequently with the New York Festival of Song at Merkin Concert Hall, and gave a duo recital with her husband, baritone Kelly Markgraf at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation.
During the 2008/09 season, Ms. Cooke reprised her critically-acclaimed portrayal of Kitty Oppenheimer for her European debut at English National Opera. Concert engagements included Handel’s Messiah with the Baltimore Symphony and with the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall; Brahms’s “Liebeslieder Walzer” accompanied by James Levine and Daniel Barenboim; Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Colorado Symphony under Jeffrey Kahane; Das Lied von der Erde at the Spoleto Festival; Harbison’s Fifth Symphony at the Aspen Music Festival; and Les nuits d’Été with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in the Young Concert Artists Gala Irene Diamond Concert at Alice Tully Hall. She also took on the title role in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe in semi-staged concerts with George Manahan and the San Francisco Symphony.
Previously at the Metropolitan Opera, where she was a member of the Lindemann Young Artists Development Program, Ms. Cooke appeared as the Sandman in a new production of Hansel and Gretel, broadcast live in high definition to cinemas across the United States and later released on DVD. Highlights of recent seasons include the world premieres of John Musto’s “Bastianello” and William Bolcom’s “Lucrezia” with the New York Festival of Song; Chausson’s Poème de l'amour et de la mer at Miller Theater; the Marilyn Horne Foundation’s 2007 Gala at Zankel Hall; and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Mozart Academy of San Luis Obispo. Ms. Cooke participated in Seattle Opera’s young artist program, where she sang Meg Page in Verdi’s Falstaff. She has also appeared as the Composer in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Endimione in Cavalli’s La Calisto at The Juilliard School, Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther and Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte at Rice University, and Erika in Barber’s Vanessa with Central City Opera.
In 2010, she was awarded First Place and the American Prize in the José Iturbi International Music Competition, Top Prize in the Gerda Lissner Competition, and the Kennedy Center’s Marian Anderson Award. Additionally, Ms. Cooke earned First Prizes in the 2007 Sun Valley Opera Vocal Competition and the 2006 Bach Vocal Competition sponsored by the American Bach Society and The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, as well as Third Prize in the 2006 Licia Albanese-Puccini Competition.
A graduate of Rice University and the Juilliard School, Sasha Cooke also attended the Music Academy of the West, the Aspen Music Festival, the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute, the Wolf Trap Foundation, the Marlboro Music Festival, and Central City Opera’s Young Artist Training Program.
"Cooke performed with a pure and lovely tone that contrasted beautifully with the orchestra’s darker timbres. In addition to its lyric beauty and flexibility, Cooke’s voice packed a punch with its ability to reach the back rows of the Lyric. …. She has a lovely and expressive voice, surprisingly bright for a mezzo."Timothy McDonald, The Kansas City Star
"The other disarmingly beautiful stretch of time came in the fourth movement with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke's poised, expansive song ‘Urlicht’ (‘Primeval Light’)… Cooke was mesmerizing, demonstrating that she has become a graceful singer with a rich, deep mezzo voice since her time here as a student."Harvey Steiman, The Aspen Times
"In the more intimate scenes alternating with all this male-dominated bomb-creating, the increasingly highly regarded mezzo Sasha Cooke is outstanding as Kitty Oppenheimer, realizing the part with perfect diction and a surprising degree of empathy."George Hall, Opera, June 2011
"Sasha Cooke brings Kitty to life. We ache for her in her loneliness and frustration. Her rendition of the aria ‘Am I in your light?’ is poignantly moving."Arlo McKinnon, Opera News, June 2011
"In both selections Cooke sang [Bach cantatas with the L.A. Chamber Orchestra] with fresh, vibrant, well-focused tone and sensitivity to the dramatic nuances of the text."Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times
"Sasha Cooke is a big favorite of mine, and obviously of MTT as well. I can’t get enough of that rich mezzo sound with the bright soprano edge."Philip Campbell, Bay Area Reporter
"Mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke, who burst upon the operatic scene with her brilliant performance as Kitty Oppenheimer in the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere of John Adam’s Doctor Atomic, is a star in the making. She sings Britten’s charming 'A Charm of Lullabies' with a perplexing bitter-sweetness that lies at the root of these songs. … Sasha Cooke performs Henry T. Burleigh’s arrangements of American spirituals ('Songs') with affecting vulnerability and verve. In Barber’s Four Songs, Op. 13, she demonstrates the range and strength of her voice in these gems by one of America’s great vocal composers. 'Sure on This Shining Night' is especially memorable."Robert Moon, Audiophile Audition
"Most impressive, however, [in Mozart's 'Davidde penitente' at the Mostly Mozart Festival] was Sasha Cooke, a mezzo-soprano who rose to the lofty exploits of the second soprano with dynamic, expressive and technical brilliance."Martin Bernheimer, The Financial Times
"[Cooke] is the next big thing in mezzos, singing with cut-glass precision and luminous depth -- and here bringing a world of ultimate sorrow and longing to these Spanish songs. A genuine stage presence and actor, she embraced the false surface jubilation of ‘Cancion,’ a song about treachery in love, while pushing the underbelly of heartbreak up toward the surface. With its multiple levels, it's a gorgeous trickster song, like Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Every Day a Little Death,’ and Cooke (who also sings Sondheim) knows just how to handle it."Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News
"[Britten’s] verse settings found an ideal interpreter in Sasha Cooke, who, with Barnatan’s able support, made a smashing festival debut. The young American mezzo-soprano revels in a rich, tawny tone and honours verbal as much as musical values. The concert world seems hers to command."Allan Ulrich, The Financial Times
"The delight here was the lustrous and evocative singing of mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who brought buoyant immediacy to the opening ‘Villanelle’ and an aching intensity to the lament ‘Sur les lagunes' [in Berlioz's 'Les nuits d’été with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony]."Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
"Cooke demonstrated a voice that combines the finest qualities of a lighter tone with a deeper range. The first song, ‘Anzolea avanti la regata’ (‘Anzoleta before the race’), was beautifully phrased with impressive musicality… Yes, Momolo won the race, and the mezzo rewarded him with extraordinarily clear and beautiful high notes in the final song"Timothy McDonald, The Kansas City Star
"The evening opened with Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 1, ‘Jeremiah,’ featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who gave a sensitively sung performance that captured the aching character of the piece's Hebrew text and mixed tender moments with controlled power."Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Its [Respighi’s ‘Il Tramonto’] dazzling performance by the Miró Quartet and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke opened the concert with a startling revelation….Cooke’s powerful voice displays the bright edge of a dramatic soprano, yet tempered with the clarity and warmth of a mezzo. A young singer, she made an impressive Met debut last fall as Kitty Oppenheimer in John Adams’s ‘Doctor Atomic,’ and her voice commanded the modest confines of Sherwood Auditorium. She opened with apparent ease the emotional floodgates the poet scattered across his so-happy-to-be-sad topography."Kenneth Herman, SanDiego.com
"The mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, partly of Russian lineage, brought her idiomatic diction to selections by Tchaikovsky and Sergei Taneyev. […] Elgar’s ‘Sea Pictures’ offered a potent demonstration of Ms. Cooke’s rich, supple sound and passionate delivery."Steve Smith, The New York Times
"“…Elgar’s ‘Sea Pictures,’ which mezzo Sasha Cooke sang as ravishingly as I have ever heard them sung."Howard Kissell, New York Daily News
"The fine mezzo Sasha Cooke, who recently offered a vivid portrayal of Kitty Oppenheimer in John Adams’s ‘Doctor Atomic’ at the Metropolitan Opera, sang ‘Les Nuits d’été’ with an expressive, amber-hued voice. In ‘Sur les Lagunes’ tears ran down Ms. Cooke’s cheeks as she mourned a lost love."Vivienne Schweitzer, The New York Times
"The mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke—as Oppenheimer’s alcoholic wife, Kitty [in 'Doctor Atomic' at English National Opera]—possessed a fine lyrical voice and in an intimate scene in which she longed for her husband, she found once again that work observed all his time and energy. A member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Artist Development Program, Cooke’s a singer destined for a brilliant career!"Tony Cooper, Norwich Evening News
"Of the soloists [in Handel's 'Messiah' at Carnegie Hall], the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke was the most consistently pleasing. Her burnished tone and carefully shaped lines invariably went directly to the heart of an aria, and although all the singers ornamented the repeats inventively, Ms. Cooke’s embellishments were expressive rather than merely showy."Allan Kozinn, The New York Times
"New to ‘Atomic’ is the gifted young mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, as Kitty Oppenheimer. Perhaps because she had no nostalgia for the old production, she was able to create a fresh, vital portrayal, bringing a luminous tone, a generously supported musical line, a keen sense of verbal nuance, and a flair for seduction. Even if the Oppenheimers’ bedroom came out looking oddly like a suite in an Ian Schrager hotel, their duet emerged as the most psychologically cogent scene of the night—a billowing of sensual delirium into white-knuckle reality."Alex Ross, The New Yorker
"Sasha Cooke sings with seductive fury."Justin Davidson, New York Magazine
"Leading [mezzo-]soprano Sasha Cooke appeared to have a major success."David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The scenes with Oppenheimer’s wife, Kitty, sung with aching, wistful intensity by the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, are beautifully rendered."Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
"Ms. Cooke did well everywhere. She has a strong, healthy voice, and she is a good enough musician to handle Schumann’s ornamental turns of phrase with ease and clarity… the chance to hear this music rendered so correctly was cause for gratitude."Bernard Holland, The New York Times