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.