Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote is regarded as one of the great artists of our day. Equally famed on the great operatic stages as in concert and recital she has been named the ‘superlative British Mezzo’ (San Francisco Chronicle). Her performances have been described as ‘breathtaking in [its] sheer conviction and subtlety of perception’ (The Times) and her voice as ‘beautiful, to be sure, but, more importantly, it thrills you to the marrow.’ (The Daily Telegraph).
Renowned on the great recital, concert and opera stages of the world, Alice Coote’s career has taken her from her beginnings in the north of England (born in Cheshire), singing in local festivals and playing oboe in the Cheshire Youth Orchestra, to being regarded as one of the great artists of today.
The recital platform is central to her musical life, and she performs throughout the UK, Europe and the US, at the Wigmore Hall (where she has been a resident artist), the BBC Proms, Concertgebouw, Vienna Konzerthaus, Lincoln Centre NY and Carnegie Hall, among many other prestigious venues. Most recently, she has debuted Schubert’s Winterreise at ‘’The Stars of the White Nights’’ Mariinsky Festival in St Petersburg.
Acclaimed in particular for Strauss, Mahler, Berlioz, Mozart, Händel and Bach with orchestras such as London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, OAE, The English Concert, Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Hallé and Concertgebouw.Read more
In her operatic engagements Coote spends a large part of her time engaged abroad, and in the UK, interpreting male and female roles, such as Dejanira Hercules, Leonore La Favorite, Carmen, Charlotte Werther, Dorabella Così fan Tutte, Lucretia The Rape of Lucretia, Marguerite Damnation de Faust, Penelope Ulysses, Octavian Der Rosenkavalier, Composer Ariadne, Orfeo, Idamante Idomeneo, both Poppea and Nerone L’incoronazione di Poppea, Hänsel Hänsel und Gretel, Sesto and Vitellia La Clemenza di Tito, Sesto Giulio Cesare, Maffio Orsini Lucrezia Borgia, Le Prince Charmant Cendrillon, Ruggiero Alcina and the title role in Ariodante. She has performed these roles at Opera North, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, English National Opera, Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House. In Europe she has appeared at opera houses including Opéra de Paris and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, in Amsterdam, Geneva, Munich, Frankfurt, and Salzburg. USA and Canadian appearances include Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and the Metropolitan Opera New York.
Her many recordings and DVD appearances include on CD: Mahler Song Cycles (Pentatone); an album of English Song, The Power of Love (Hyperion); Songs by Robert Schumann and Gustav Mahler (EMI); Händel’s Messiah and Mahler 2 (EMI); Angel Dream of Gerontius and The Apostles (Hallé); Composer Ariadne auf Naxos (Chandos); Orfeo (Virgin Classics); Choice of Hercules (Hyperion); Brahms Alto Rhapsody (Tudor); Schubert’s Winterreise (Wigmore Hall Live); Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (Pentatone); On DVD: Händel’s Messiah (EMI); Hansel Hansel and Gretel (EMI); Nerone Poppea (Decca); Ruggiero Alcina (Arte) Maffio Orsini Lucrezia Borgia (Medici Arts).
Highlights of the 2018/19 season include; the title role in Ariodante and the role of Le Prince Charmant in Cendrillon at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; the title role in the Munich Opera Festival’s new production of Agrippina; Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, ‘Resurrection’ with the Hallé Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder; Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; and Britten’s Spring Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle. She will also give several recitals including a programme of Schubert with Julius Drake at Mogens Dahl, Copenhagen, and an evening of Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Brahms, and Mahler with Christian Blackshaw at Wigmore Hall, London.
Coote will be a Hallé Associate Artist for the 2019/20 season during which she will perform; Berlioz Roméo et Juliet; Bach’s B Minor Mass; Mahler Symphony No.3.
Coote’s 2019/20 engagements include; the title role in Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice at English National Opera; Berlioz Roméo et Juliet with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas; Mary Magdalene/Narrator in Elgar’s The Apostles with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder; Mahler Symphony No. 8 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla; Sarah in Robert Devereux with the Los Angeles Opera; Ottavia in L’incoronazione di Poppea at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées;
In recital; Alice will perform at the St Andrew’s Voices Festival with Christian Blackshaw; at the Wigmore Hall with Julius Drake and at 92nd Street Y in New York with Eric Owens and Julius Drake.
In 2018 she was awarded an OBE for services to music.
UPDATED September 2019
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Alice Coote's recording Mahler Song Cycles on Pentatone, recorded with Marc Albrecht and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, has been selected as one of MusicWeb International's Recordings of the Year 2018. In reviewing the recording for MusicWeb international,...
Alice Coote was awarded an OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the arts and music. Ms Coote is regarded as one of the great artists of our day. Equally famed on the great operatic stages as in concert and recital she has been named the...
“Best of all was mezzo-soprano Alice Coote in the trouser role of Prince Charming. Gloom never has sounded more radiantly beautiful than when Coote’s Prince longed for love in “Allez, laissez-moi seul.” Though the message was dour, the deep-amber color of Coote’s low notes and the ardently yearning nature of her phrasing could make even the most stone-hearted listener feel this protagonist’s pain.”
“Alice Coote, who has sung previously at Lyric, is vocally stunning as Prince Charming. Her elegant line and thoughtful phrasing deftly shape her character. In the encounter with Cendrillon at the end of the second act (‘Je te perdrais?’), the sense of love at first sight is apparent, with Coote’s intensity creating the effect Massenet scored so carefully. In the third act, Coote’s longing for the absent Cendrillon benefits from languid phrasing (‘Tu me l’as dit’) that resolves at the end of the scene, with no loss of rich, full sound.”
“This time the prince is portrayed by the astonishing mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, a modern master of such breeches parts. She has done the Pelly production several times before, and in Chicago she endowed Massenet’s regal young man with a marvelous dose of failure-to-launch torment.”
“Alice Coote provided all of the night’s vocal highlights as Prince Charmant. The English mezzo-soprano possesses enough artistry and experience to bull through the staging excesses, and her vocal gleam and dramatic impact elevated the evening.”
Chicago Classical Review, Lawrence A. Johnson
“Alice Coote’s extreme performance as Hercules’s jealous and unhinged wife Dejanira dwarfed all her colleagues’ efforts. Coote did not so much chart a descent into madness (Dejanira’s precarious state of mind was clear from her opening recitative), rather she set out to present an entire spectrum of insanity, from warped sarcasm in ‘Resign thy club and lion’s spoils’ to the frenzied violence of ‘ Where shall I fly?'”
Financial Times, Laura Battle
“[…] Dejanira, an extraordinary study of the destructive impact of jealousy on a tempestuous nature, here sung by Alice Coote. The full resources of her wide-ranging mezzo were brought into play to define it, and the result was a tour de force of colouristic display placed firmly in the service of imaginative dramatic exploration. […] The choir and orchestra of The English Concert were on impeccable form under Bicket, with high-definition articulation and tonal quality underlying everything they did; but this was inevitably Coote’s evening, as well as Handel’s.”
The Guardian, George Hall
“In Ariodante, that astonishing quality of singing begins with the two leads, Briton Alice Coote (in a trouser role – in other words, playing a man) as Ariodante, and Canadian Jane Archibald as Ginevra. Coote has an amazingly supple and dramatic mezzo-soprano, capable of delivering the widest range of emotion in a smoky, powerful timbre. When she wants to produce pathos, she is superb – her Scherza, infida, sung when Ariodante believes Ginevra has been unfaithful to him, was one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard at the COC. But when she needs suppleness and immaculate vocal control, she has it as well.”
“Alice Coote ushering us into the beyond with haunting tenderness: on this form, she is matchless. This was not just a “Song of the Earth” it was out of this world.”
“Alice Coote gave a blistering performance as Dejanira, bewailing her predicament one moment (“There, in myrtle shades reclin’d”) and spitting poison the next, moving around the stage like a woman possessed, firing arrow-showers of semi-quavers at Hercules … and the captive Iole. When finally she learns of the dreadful consequence of her jealousy she loses her mind, and her fear of the Furies is real and terrifying (“See the dreadful sisters rise”).”
“Coote filled the hall with full blooded, boisterous comedy and perfect diction as well as remarkable sensitivity.”
“[Coote] traced emotive evolutions from rapture to despair gently here, assertively there, and always exquisitely, with equal parts precision and pathos … she emerged compellingly vivacious in the joyous passages, and, even more impressive, magnetically moving in the tragic utterances”
“This singer has every technical gift to support the greatness of her narrative art: the richest of full-voiced declamation to hold firm against wind and brass in the midnight ode, hallowed soft singing in the tenderest miniatures and phrasing that seems to go on for ever … Mahler singing doesn’t come any classier, warmer or more involving than this.”
“Alice Coote […] used her gleaming mezzo to go for an emotional road less travelled […] Coote’s heartbreaking last song, “My Love’s Two Blue Eyes” […] hit you like a thunderbolt”
Mahler: “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen”, BBC Proms – Neil Fisher, The Times
“Alice Coote … managed to etch the fire and sadness of Mary Magdalene into her voice so well that the part’s shortcomings were rather ruthlessly exposed”
“Then there was Alice Coote’s Mary Magdalene “In the Tower of Magdala” making words matter with her customary intensity”
“Alice Coote […] is intense and incandescent: the star performance”
Cendrillon – David Nice, BBC Music Magazine
“In this consistently exceptional performance, Coote placed immense trust in her voice to convey a diverse range of sounds across the evening, and each was executed to perfection. In the recitatives and aria from Hercules she used her dark, resonant and full voice as a baseline, before demonstrating incredible flexibility as her transition from the lower to upper register saw each soaring phrase seem to cap the last for beauty. In the excerpts from Ariodante, Coote revelled in conveying a far wider range of emotions. Her performance of ‘Qui d’amor’ was tender and heartfelt, and although her overall sound was full of body, certain lines were allowed to ‘evaporate’ into the air. The aria ‘Scherza infida’ demonstrated grief as intense as any just heard in Hercules and yet felt different in sense and tone […]”
“No […] doubts about the opening phrases sung by Alice Coote as Octavian, who was in glorious voice from the outset. Coote is by now a practised and experienced Octavian, […] her ‘girl playing man playing girl’ routine was often genuinely funny, […] while her rich mezzo (and some wonderfully incisive timbre in her lower register) gave contant musical pleasure. […] her reading of the part was rock solid throughout, and her outstanding musical line was particularly evident in the ensemble passages. […] This was a sophisticated musical performance”
“…it was Langree’s hypersensitive pacing […] that lit his performance. That, and the presence of Alice Coote. Her Sextus is one of the living marvels of the Mozartian stage, […] she plumbs the depths of anguish, torment, fear and self-hatred […] as her voice shifted from almost breathless whisper to cries wrenched from the soul […] Michael Schade’s Titus matched the dramatic strength of Coote.”
“At its centre was the powerhouse confrontation between Michael Schade’s Tito and Alice Coote’s Sesto. Schade, in terrific voice, presented Tito as a man of tremendous authority […]. Coote, meanwhile, was all tragic anguish and blazing coloratura, as conscience and desire erode Sesto’s mind.”
“Last week, however, [Latvian mezzo Elina Garanca] pulled out, to be replaced by our own Alice Coote, who has memorably sung the role at ENO. Any disappointment at the substitution immediately evanesced: Coote was in incandescent voice, passionately engaged in her two big arias and making every bar of recitative dramatically alive and meaningful.”
“Four years ago, Alice Coote took her Wigmore Hall audience on one of the most harrowing winter journeys they had ever experienced. Her understanding of Schubert’s Winterreise, already dark and unsparing, has now deepened, and her mezzo-soprano has evolved, too, making her performance at the weekend another formidable landmark in her career. […] The voice had a feverish brightness to it – Coote’s top register becomes ever more searing in its clarity and intensity – and her glimpse of a shadow in the moonlight set the spine tingling. If this Winterreise was to be emotionally highly charged, then it was musically rigorous enough […] Indeed, everywhere the music’s sense of obsessive repetition and circling was perfectly shaped. […] And the final question of all, that the hurdy-gurdy man should grind his melodies to the wanderer’s own tune, became one of the most heart-rending pleas I’ve ever heard in this cycle”
“The clear vocal standout was Alice Coote who proved simply sensational as the Composer. The English singer completely embodied the frustrated and idealistic young artist whose masterpiece is being systematically destroyed by the plans of her obtuse (and unseen) benefactor. Coote’s ample high mezzo fits this trousers role like a perfectly tailored glove and her fearless vocalism and emotional commitment in the aria in praise of music provided the high point of the evening “
“The Composer (Alice Coote) marvelous in a trouser role …Unlike many mezzo-sopranos, Coote can open up into the ascending phrases of the Composer’s music without strain. Her singing in the middle and lower registers, moreover, has the necessary warmth, expansion and carrying power to make the duet with Zerbinetta glow with erotic longing. The British singer, so memorable here last season in Handel’s “Hercules,” made her character the impetuous yet vulnerable nerve-center of the Prologue “
“Fully convincing musically and dramatically, English mezzo Alice Coote made you wish the Composer’s role was not confined to the Prologue “
“[…] Thank heavens for Alice Coote…she alone heard the sounds of silence, she alone carried the rapture of the piece and connected words to feeling. Her singing of the line “I seek rest for my lonely heart” in “Der Abschied” said it all”