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 “breath-taking in [their] 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).
The recital platform is central to her musical life. She performs throughout the UK, Europe and the US; at Wigmore Hall (where she has been a resident artist), the BBC Proms, The Concertgebouw, Vienna Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, among many other prestigious venues. Most recently, she debuted Schubert’s Winterreise at “The Stars of the White Nights” Mariinsky Festival in St Petersburg.
She is acclaimed in particular for singing pieces by Strauss, Mahler, Berlioz, Mozart, Händel and Bach with orchestras such as London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The English Concert, Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, The Hallé and The 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, the title role in Carmen, Charlotte Werther, Dorabella Così fan tutte, Lucretia The Rape of Lucretia, Marguerite La Damnation de Faust, Penelope Ulysses, Octavian Der Rosenkavalier, Composer Ariadne auf Naxos, Orfeo Orfeo ed Euridice, Idamante Idomeneo, Poppea and Nerone L’incoronazione di Poppea, Hänsel Hänsel und Gretel, Sesto and Vitelia 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, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Dutch National Opera, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Bayerische Staatsoper, Oper Frankfurt and Salzburg Festival. USA and Canadian opera houses include Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, LA Opera, San Francisco Opera, Canadian Opera Company and the Metropolitan Opera, New York.
Her many recordings and DVD appearances include on CD: Mahler Song Cycles (Pentatone); The Power of Love: An English Songbook (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); and on DVD: Händel’s Messiah (EMI); Hansel Hansel and Gretel (EMI); Nerone L’incoronazione di Poppea (Decca); Ruggiero Alcina (Arte); and Maffio Orsini Lucrezia Borgia (Medici Arts).
Most recent engagements include the title role in Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice at English National Opera; Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas; and Mahler Semphony No. 8 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. Coote was a Hallé Associate Artist for the 2019/20 season.
The 2020/21 season saw Coote perform Winterreise with Christian Blackshaw and a Schumanniade with Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake, both at Wigmore Hall. She appeared in a livestream at the Royal Festival Hall in a widely praised assumption of Britten’s Phaedra with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Philharmonia. In addition, an evening of Tchaikovsky songs depicting the composer’s inner life narrated by Ralph Fiennes with Christian Blackshaw at the piano was live streamed from Wigmore Hall in April 2021 to critical acclaim.
On the concert platform, Coote’s 2021/22 season included recitals at the Wigmore Hall with Graham Johnson, Mahler in concert at Middle Temple City of London, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Mahler’s Symphony No.2 with Michael Tilson Thomas with the National Symphony in Washington. Operatic roles included the title role in Händel’s Agrippina at Staatsoper Hamburg; and Mère Marie in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites at Opernhaus Zürich. Tchaikovsky Songs with Christian Blackshaw narrated by Ralph Fiennes streamed for a month from The Library of Congress, Washington.
In the 2022/23 season, Coote will perform the role of Orfeo in a concert performance of Orfeo ed Euridice at Opera North and Madame de Croissy Dialogues des Carmélites at the Metropolitan Opera. On the concert platform, she will perform Verdi’s Requiem with the Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder; Ravel’s Shéhérazade with the Sinfonia of London and John Wilson at the Barbican; Elgar’s Sea Pictures with Philharmonia and John Eliot Gardiner; The Dream of Gerontius with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis, and the Ripon Choral Society; Das Lied von der Erde with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and The Apostles and The Dream of Gerontius with The Hallé and Sir Mark Elder.
In 2018, she was awarded an OBE for services to music.
The 2023 BBC Proms, “the world’s greatest classical music festival”, return with 71 concerts throughout the UK from 14 July through The Last Night of the Proms celebration, featuring cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, on 9 September. Conductors Semyon Bychkov, Vladimir...
Alice Coote, “a modern Mahler Master”: Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas at the Kennedy Center
Alice Coote joined Michael Tilson Thomas for the final concert in his mini-residency at the Kennedy Center last week, in a performance hailed as “stunning” by the Washington Post. Michael Andor Brodeur writes: “As one attendee confided in me after the show, ‘The mezzo...
Outstanding Reviews Following Alice Coote’s Return to Wigmore Hall Alongside Fleur Barron, Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Graham Johnson
In her first solo recital with an unrestricted audience since the pandemic began, Alice Coote has been lauded for her generosity in sharing the platform with two mezzos from the new generation, with all three receiving superlative praise for their performances. Keith...
“Alice Coote’s fervent performance, the way she made the heart-stricken disappointment of the final song melt into sensuous languor was a lesson in how a great performance can turn copper into gold.”
“…fully in the spirit of a superbly evocative night, the mezzo-soprano’s intense theatricality won through, and that final lament struck us in all the right places.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Ravel’s luscious song cycle Shéhérazade was sung superbly by Alice Coote. Some performers present these three sensuous songs in veiled, breathy timbres. Coote’s approach is far more incisive and intense in its response to the words, with reserves of power unleashed sparingly but with thrilling effect. She is always engaged emotionally. When she is also focused technically she is peerless.”
““When I am laid in earth“ is always going to be the focal point in any production of this opera, and Coote delivered it in a way that showed that Dido had never been more alive than at the point of her destruction. There was a simultaneous fluidity of expression and resolute stillness at the heart of her performance. As she sang “Remember me” the notes conveyed the full complexity and resonance of her grief. You could imagine them echoing across the wine-dark sea as Aeneas sped away in his relentless quest to be a hero.”
“Coote…her use of colour giving the songs an emotional narrative…a heart-in-mouth intensity…One wishes that these performances were available in something more than a sound-only medium. Coote is a particularly compelling presence in recital; I want to experience the whole package.”
RELEASED MAY 22: SCHUBERT “21 SONGS” disc with Julius Drake/Hyperion Records
“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.”
“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”