Grammy award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke will star in the title role in the London premiere of Marnie at the English National Opera. Made famous on-screen by Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery in Alfred Hitchcock’s gripping 1964 psychodrama, Marnie is a co-production by the ENO and New York’s Metropolitan Opera, with the librettist Nicholas Wright working from the original Winston Graham novel.
In the build-up to this Saturday’s (18/11) premiere, Opera Wire, who describe Cooke as “one of the great exponents of modern music”, have named her as their Artist of the Week.
Composer Nico Muhly comments, “The most important thing is that Sasha Cooke, who plays Marnie, is on the case. She is tasked with the hardest thing of all, which is to bring her experiences as a human being, as an actress, as an interpreter of musical texts, to tell the story in a way that it feels three-dimensional. It doesn’t remove the fact that it’s a bunch of men in the room, but Sasha has become as much part of the creative process as anyone.” (The Times)
For Cooke, the opera “is so interesting because we didn’t realise this would be a timeless subject when it was conceived more than three years ago. The director, Michael Meyer, had the idea and called the composer to ask what he thought about Marnie for an opera… And within 30 seconds Nico said yes. A lot of composers write operas in such a parlando [speaking] style. This is the first time doing a new opera — I’ve done about seven — when I don’t want to change a thing.” (The Times)
She finds the character of Marnie both challenging and fascinating: “She doesn’t really know herself — she’s a complacent woman trying to find herself — and in the novel Graham puts her in the first person. The whole book is told from her vantage point, but she isn’t aware of the subtext.”
Sasha Cooke has been hailed by critics for her dramatic skills and for her “luxuriant,” “warm,” “engaging” and “richly textured” voice, and she has been involved in several 21st century operas including As One, Doctor Atomic, Everest and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (Opera Wire).
For tickets and further information, please visit eno.org.