Reviews

The Dream of Gerontius with Seattle Symphony
Cooke's first-rate performance was one that will long live in the memory. Utterly reliable across her register, she elicited an angelic figure that had nothing to do with saccharine cliche: otherworldly yet deeply consoling, somehow innocent and yet knowing, at moments even anticipating the impact of Messiaen's 'Saint François.' (Thomas May, Dec 5, 2016)
Bachtrack
Hänsel und Gretel at Seattle Opera
The opening night cast brought these varied tangents to life. Sasha Cooke sang Hansel with full, ravishing tone yet at the same time was completely persuasive as a rowdy youngster, full of energy at one moment and protective of his sister the next. (Thomas May, Oct 17, 2016)
Bachtrack
Hänsel und Gretel at Seattle Opera
Cooke has a big, supple sound; [Gretel] was an ideal counterpart to Cooke’s boyish portrayal. Their acting was realistic and detailed, constantly in motion — just as real kids are. (Melinda Bargreen, Oct 17, 2016)
Seattle Times
Hyperion Recording of Liszt with Julius Drake
Previous issues have each focused on different singers, all accompanied by the expert Julius Drake, and here the choice falls on the American mezzo Sasha Cooke, whose even, expressive voice is equal to all technical demands and rises to tremendous intensity. (May 2016)
BBC Magazine
Hyperion Recording of Liszt with Julius Drake
The most recent installment in the series includes German and French songs spanning 40 years, sung by the ravishing American mezzo Sasha Cooke...Not surprisingly for a seasoned Mahler and Berlioz singer, Cooke’s vocal and dramatic gifts are shown to greatest advantage in two larger-scale songs, Goethe’s “Kennst du das Land” and Heine’s ballad “Die Loreley.” She successfully negotiates the challenges to her top and bottom ranges in “Die Loreley,” vividly relating the tale of the river siren. Most remarkable, however, are the seven latest songs on the disc. Cooke and Drake lavish sympathy and understanding on these challenging exemplars of Liszt’s austere, introverted and prophetic late style. (Patrick Rucker, June 17, 2016)
Washington Post
Das Lied von der Erde on tour with San Francisco Symphony
Matters improved markedly with the entrance of the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who has a ravishing sound like shining copper to parts of her voice. (Anne Midgette, April 17, 2016)
Washington Post
Das Lied von der Erde with San Francisco Symphony
But anytime you add Cooke into the mix, there’s a whole new level of magic involved. She brings an extraordinary wealth of tonal color to a performance, as well as a degree of emotional intensity that can be almost unnerving in its focus. (Joshua Kosman, April 7, 2016)
San Francisco Chronicle
Orlando with The English Concert, Barbican
Cooke’s even sound has a thrillingly masculine edge. (Michael Church, March 2, 2016)
The Independent
Orlando with The English Concert, Carnegie Hall
Cooke’s marvelous, rich sound colors her as a contralto, and was utterly convincing in the trouser role. As part of the glorious singing in Act II, their series of recitatives and arias from “Da queste amiche piante” through “Verdi piante” was beyond compelling. The experience was so ravishing that one felt the singing went on for far longer than it did, the mind hoping it would never stop. (George Grella, March 14, 2016)
New York Classical Review
Die Meistersinger with San Francisco Opera
“Meistersinger” boasts a secondary pair of lovers — the apprentice cobbler David and Eva’s maid, Magdalena — and they were embodied with extravagant grace and artistry [...] Cooke in particular is always a star, but even by her exalted standards, this performance — marked by rich vocal tone and a vivacious stage demeanor — was a cut above. (Joshua Kosman, November 19, 2015)
San Francisco Chronicle
Poème de l'amour et de la Mer with Chautauqua Symphony
Cooke inhabited the conflicted worlds of Chausson’s cycle from the moment she began pouring out her lustrous, vividly focused voice. Although the French texts weren’t projected or printed in the program, it was easy to discern the intent of the words from Cooke’s nuanced shading and facial expressions. (Donald Rosenberg, August 27, 2015)
The Chautauqua Daily
Missa Solemnis (2) with San Francisco Symphony
That so much emotion remained in the performance was because of the sustained lyricism of Mr. Tilson Thomas’s interpretation and to his committed performers, including the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, her voice velvety but firm with intention. (Zachary Woolfe, June 12, 2015)
New York Times
Les Troyens at San Francisco Opera
Sasha Cooke’s warm mezzo and alert presence were assets in the role of Anna. (Georgia Rowe, June 2015)
Opera News
Les Troyens at San Francisco Opera
Standout performances by Anna Caterina Antonacci as Cassandre, Susan Graham as Dido and Sasha Cooke as Dido's sister, Anna, manage to make S.F. Opera's "Troyens" mean something. (Mark Swed, June 8, 2015)
LA Times
Mahler 3 with Melbourne Symphony
American mezzo-soprano Sa­sha Cooke offered a rich, soulful account of the fourth movement vocal line from the choir loft, giving full expression to the grief and human craving described in ­Nietzsche’s text. (Eamonn Kelly, March 31, 2015)
The Australian
Carnegie Hall Recital
A song recital by the luminous American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke is always an event. Her outing on March 12 in New York City’s Zankel Hall, with the attentive Julius Drake at the piano, was no less so with its world premiere by Kevin Puts...Cooke’s commitment to contemporary music seems a natural part of her musical curiosity and communicative commitment. Each piece on this recital revealed a different aspect of her rich artistic personality, from the classical gravity of Haydn’s scena, Arianna a Naxos, to the giddy hilarity of Cole Porter’s “Give Him the Ooh-La-La.” (Judith Malafronte, June issue)
Opera News
Verdi Requiem with Houston Symphony
Cooke is a majestic mezzo-soprano. Her voice is surprisingly bright in its lower register, and she caught the playful side of Verdi’s part writing in the back and forth with the orchestra. (Sydney Boyd, March 21, 2015)
Bachtrack
Jake Heggie's Camille Claudel: Into the Fire (orchestral premiere)
Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke brought forth her clear, sensitive, and powerful instrument marvelously to the music, generating in large part the enthusiastic audience reception that led to extended curtain calls, and the spectacle of Heggie bowing on his knees to her on stage. (Jeff Dunn, March 3, 2015)
San Francisco Classical Voice
Jake Heggie's Camille Claudel: Into the Fire (orchestral premiere)
For the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra commission, first performed on Feb. 26 (with Sasha Cooke as Camille, elegant of voice and deeply moving), Mr. Heggie expanded her world to the range and depth of a full orchestra. (David Littlejohn, March 2, 2015)
Wall Street Journal
Everest (world premiere) at Dallas Opera
Mezzo–soprano Sasha Cooke is amazing in her stoic portrayal of Rob Hall’s wife, Jan. She is eight months pregnant and waiting at home in New Zealand—knowing in her heart the final outcome. Cooke warms her voice to convey her love and positive attitude when talking with Hall through a radio/satellite hooked-up phone call that ends the opera. However, you can tell that she is putting on a brave face. (George Sullivan Isaacs, Feb 1, 2015)
Theater Jones
Sheherazade and Wayfarer Songs with I Musici of Montreal
Arrive American mezzo Sasha Cooke and with her, flashes of light until the very end of her performance, even in pained moments or silences. She sings in French, the orchestra responds to her: and throughout she radiates. (Yves Bernard, Oct 17, 2014)
Le Devoir
As One (world premiere) at BAM
With knowing wit and vocal lushness, the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke plays “Hannah after.” (David Allen, September 5, 2014)
New York Times
Lowell Liebermann Co-Commission at Santa Fe Chamber Festival
Still, it would be hard to imagine a more generous performance. Cooke’s remarkable voice, large, plush, flexible and totally at one with the lyrics, makes the cycle into a thoughtful, almost persuasive dramatization of lost time and lost loves. (John Stege, August 13, 2014)
Santa Fe Reporter
Lowell Liebermann Co-Commission at Santa Fe Chamber Festival
Cooke used her ample, rich-toned, eminently appealing voice to convey her part with conviction and sensitivity. (James M. Keller, August 15, 2014)
Santa Fe New Mexican
Anna Bolena at Opéra National de Bordeaux
Notice must be given to the amazing performance of the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke in the travesti role of Smeton, page and musician to the Queen: beautiful vocal agility tout à fait bel canto and a very attractive full-bodied timbre. Her performance is a mixture of melancholy and bravery, without pretention: excellent. (Sabino Pena Arcia, June 6, 2014)
Classique News
Anna Bolena at Opéra National de Bordeaux
The firm voice and dynamic presence of Sasha Cooke brought the page Smeton to life. (Catherine Darfay, May 27, 2014)
Sud-Ouest de Bordeaux
Montsalvatge 'Madrigal,' Naxos Records
Mezzo Sasha Cooke unleashes seamless, beautifully shaped tones that float alluringly on the shimmering string accompaniment of the Perspectives Ensemble, conducted with sensitivity by Angel Gil-Ordóñez. Cooke also deftly negotiates the more scintillating and challenging 'Cinco Invocaciones al Crucificado' (1969) for mezzo, three flutes, five percussionists, harp, piano, celeste, and string bass...in the bleaker, more expansive and free-ranging "Lamentacion" of the fourth movement, Cooke appropriately adds texture to her voice on such searing lines as "now you are a blade/that pierces me with untold pain," but she maintains suitable neo-classical restraint. (Joshua Rosenblum, June 2014)
Opera News
Debussy with MDR Leipzig Symphony Orchestra
[In "La Damoiselle élue"] Sasha Cooke’s gorgeously hued mezzo soprano in its clarity and poignancy goes straight to the heart, and the duet with the chorister, Karina Schoenbeck in "Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien" evoked an extraordinary interior moment. (Birgit Hendrich, April 8, 2014)
Leipziger Volkszeitung
Mahler 3 with San Francisco Symphony on Tour, Royal Festival Hall
The best thing about this performance was Sasha Cooke, the American mezzo whose resonant tone and intelligent projection raised the fourth movement to a different level. (Andrew Clark, March 17, 2014)
Financial Times
Mahler 3 with San Francisco Symphony on Tour, Salle Pleyel
Still, there was a superbly emotional moment along that overly quiet, long, river. We owe it to the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who offered us no doubt the most poignant "O Mensch!" we have heard in a long time. Her vocal performance, the color of her timbre, the intelligence of her phrasing, everything was there, at last, to bear us into the musical heavens. (Patrick Georges Montaigu, March 22, 2014)
ResMusica
Mahler 3 with San Francisco Symphony
And, ah, now it was time for soloist Sasha Cooke, the mezzo-soprano whose voice is like the "deep midnight" described in Nietzsche's verse about joys "deeper still than the heart's sorrows."...Cooke was exquisite: dark pearl-tones and clear expressive diction. (Richard Sheinin, Feb 28, 2014)
San Jose Mercury News
Stravinsky and Ravel with Chicago Symphony
Of the several works presented, the intimate songs for mezzo proved the most rewarding. In Ravel’s 'Trois Poèmes de Mallarmé,' Sasha Cooke’s lovely voice and expressive singing brought out the varied qualities of these three settings with refined artistry, with the quiet melancholy of 'Soupir' especially notable. (Lawrence Johnson, Feb 21, 2014)
Chicago Classical Review
Songs of a Wayfarer with Cleveland Orchestra
And what a voice it was. Last heard here two years ago in Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky” cantata, Cooke again Thursday navigated dark musical waters to poignant effect. Though possessed of a radiant high register, Cooke was especially forceful in the low, melancholy range where Mahler’s four songs spend most of their time. Each song as she presented it delivered a stinging message and emerged as a complete, richly detailed scene. (Zachary Lewis, February 14, 2014)
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland
Recital at Lincoln Center
Benjamin Britten’s centennial year ended on Dec. 31. But 2013 brought few tributes to him lovelier than that delivered on Monday evening at Alice Tully Hall by the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke...Ms. Cooke, 31, captured both the gentle and surreal aspects of [his "Charm of Lullabies,"] lavishing on them a voice softly, warmly radiant, with a penetrating core of metal. In “The Highland Balou,” she movingly balanced grandeur and intimacy. She rose to a vast note in the final line of “Sephestia’s Lullaby” and reduced her sound to a sliver for the whispers of “quiet!” in “A Charm.” (Zachary Woolfe, Feb 8, 2014)
New York Times
Das Lied von der Erde with Louisiana Philharmonic
Friday's biggest bouquets go to Cooke. In her New Orleans debut, the young mezzo captured the world-weary sadness and provisional, wine-soaked joys of Mahler's masterpiece. Her storytelling was sustained by an athletic voice that emphasized the sheer physicality of the music; she wrapped listeners with the warmth of her timbre, filled the hall at a whisper, projected over the biggest orchestral fortes, responded to Mahler's dance rhythms with dancing phrases, and, seemingly without effort, stretched her vocal lines into vaults and spires and sudden, dramatic plunges...I count her performance among the two or three greatest vocal displays I have heard in a decade of reviewing in New Orleans. (Chris Waddington, Feb 1, 2014)
The Times-Picayune
San Francisco Performances Recital Debut
Cooke, San Francisco Symphony and Opera favorite conquered once again with a great voice, so rich in legato, wonderful diction in German, French, and English, and unaffected warmth and charm - no surprise there. (Janos Gereben, Jan 25, 2014)
San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Performances Recital Debut
Through her considerable experience in opera, Cooke has a keen understanding of the dramatic potential that can reside in any text. Thus, while none of the poems set by any of the songs she performed involved an explicit narrative, Cooke could still tease out a dramatic interpretation defined through the use of body language to underscore her logic of phrasing and dynamic control. One thus came away from each interpretation with a strong sense that the words really mattered...(Steven Smoliar, Jan 25, 2014)
San Francisco Examiner
Messiah with the Philadelphia Orchestra
Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke had many adept moments with ornaments emphasizing the more solid areas of her full-bodied but flexible voice. (David Patrick Stearns, December 24, 2013)
Philadelphia Inquirer
Mohammed Fairouz's Poems and Prayers with UCLA
Sasha Cooke's velvety mezzo brings to Darwish's haunting text the quality of a Bach, an outside voice adding perspective. The symphony is most effective when, like this, intimate. "Night Fantasy" featured more stirring solos from Cooke and from concertmaster Nicole Sauer. (Mark Swed, December 10, 2013)
Los Angeles Times
Britten's Spring Symphony with the New York Philharmonic
The splendid mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke brought dark colorings and penetrating richness to her solos. (Anthony Tommasini, November 22, 2013)
New York Times
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
In the splendid aria "Parto, parto"... Sasha Cooke's timbre seems to have taken on an added richness since I last heard her. The singer's expressive qualities were, as ever, to the fore, and the power and beauty of her interpretation made me long to hear her at The Met again where lesser artists hold forth in roles that would suit Ms. Cooke to perfection. Be that as it may, her singing of the aria tonight, graced by Mr. Shifrin's polished roulades, was a thoroughly engrossing musico-dramatic experience...(Philip Gardner, Nov 19, 2013)
Oberon's Grove
Verdi Requiem with Indianapolis Symphony
Such combinations as the women in "Recordare, Jesu pie" and the three lower voices in "Lux aeterna luceat eis" brimmed with vitality and unanimity of expression. Cooke deserves special mention. In a world in which "mezzo-soprano" is the more marketable category, she is a true contralto...It's a certain tone quality, a penetrating timbre, that not only lends gravity to the frequent solos Verdi gives to the lower female voice, but also seems essential to make clearer the four solo lines in the "Offertorio" section. Cooke had the essential sound and the skill to shape it to the music's meaning. (Jay Harvey, Oct 13, 2013)
Indianapolis Star former chief music critic's blog- "Jay Harvey Upstage"
Mahler 4 with the Aspen Chamber Orchestra
Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke added extra gleam to Friday’s Aspen Chamber Orchestra program under conductor Tomas Netopil. In Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, known as the composer’s most relaxed and approachable, Cooke offered a delightfully animated take on “The Heavenly Life” song finale. (Harvey Steinman, July 29, 2013)
The Aspen Times
Möricke Lieder with the Miró Quartet
Between Britten and Mendelssohn...were five of the "Mörike-Lieder" of Hugo Wolf, wonderfully sung by the mesmerizing mezzo Sasha Cooke with subtle dramatic flair and an exquisite balance of vocal richness and focus...Cooke seemed carried aloft by them. (James McQuillen, July 19, 2013)
The Oregonian
Mahler 2 at the Hollywood Bowl
In the short fourth movement, the creamily exquisite mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke sings of mortal anguish and heaven's calling. (Mark Swed, July 11, 2013)
Los Angeles Times
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (world premiere) at San Francisco Opera
The best news in "Mary Magdalene" was Cooke's majestic performance. In her company debut, the American mezzo made a brilliant impression, her characterization composed of equal parts poise, radiance and elegant directness. Her honey-colored voice was deployed luxuriantly; Cooke sang with complete conviction, sounding unforced and lustrous throughout a long evening. (Georgia Rowe, September 2013)
Opera News
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (world premiere) at San Francisco Opera
With her soaring and warm voice, crystalline diction and regal yet endearing presence, Sasha Cooke as Mary is the glory of the production. (Janos Gereben, June 21, 2013)
San Francisco Examiner
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (world premiere) at San Francisco Opera
If Adamo wanted to create believers in the Magdalene, he could not have done better than write the role for the extraordinary mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who on Wednesday night made a triumphant company debut in the title role...In a performance of dazzling vocal majesty and theatrical clarity, Cooke charted Mary's transformation from an unsettled seeker...to the self-contained teacher of a new gospel. Her singing was throaty, eloquent, and shimmeringly rich; the saintly nimbus that Renaissance painters suggested using gold paint attaches naturally to Cooke's voice. (Joshua Kosman, June 20, 2013)
San Francisco Chronicle
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (world premiere) at San Francisco Opera
Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke's Mary is a modern feminine ideal, opulently sensuous, insistently sensible, deeply feeling and demandingly honest. (Mark Swed, June 20, 2013)
Los Angeles Times
Missa Solemnis with the San Francisco Symphony
Flanking Tilson Thomas were four soloists, all excellent -- though a special "hosanna" must go out to mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, whose singing of "miserere nobis" ("have mercy upon us") in the "Agnus Dei" was like an expanding column of pure concentrated sound. It was soulfully unnerving, shaking your inners, bringing to mind the likes of Callas and Coltrane. Wow. (Richard Scheinin, May 11, 2013)
San Jose Mercury News
Argento's The Aspern Papers at Dallas Opera
Sonia is played with a cunning twist by Sasha Cooke...she conveys this simply and effectively in the way she sings the score in her melodious mezzo-soprano voice. (Mark-Brian Sonna, April 17, 2013)
Pegasus News
Chamber Music Society of New York
Ms. Cooke’s performances in this program of love songs inspired by poetry were the highlight of the evening [...her] distinctive smoky timbre blended beautifully with the mellow tones of the viola; her phrasing and control were notable [...] She also wielded her expressive voice to fine effect in the alto solo in Schumann’s “Spanische Liebeslieder” for four voices and piano, four hands [...] The six musicians joined forces for the concluding work, Brahms’s “Liebeslieder Waltzer” for four voices and piano, four hands, with Ms. Cooke again the luminous standout in her solo. (Viviene Schweitzer, Marck 12, 2013)
The New York Times
Das Lied von der Erde with Columbus Symphony
In Der Einsame im Herbst her ravishing expression of the text’s world-weary protagonist sailed over the orchestra. And in the finale, Der Abschied — “Farewell” — her assured singing revealed a stunning expressive range, especially in her sinewy duets with the orchestra’s principal flutist and in her floating repetitions of the word ewig — “forever.” (Jennifer Hambrick, February 23, 2013)
The Columbus Dispatch
Show Boat at Houston Grand Opera
Sasha Cooke brings a rich, beautifully supported soprano to Magnolia, persuasively charting her growth from starry-eyed innocent to life-toughened survivor, with the right soignée polish in her late-in-the-action Ziegfeld turn "Nobody Else But Me." (Everett Evans, Jan 23, 2013)
Houston Chronicle
Show Boat at Houston Grand Opera
Sasha Cooke's Magnolia "Nolie" Hawks is sweet and loveable from beginning to end. Her arc from naïve and protected teenager to self-realized Broadway starlet is entirely believable and a joy to watch. Sasha Cooke's soprano instrument is breathtakingly beautiful, lending a decidedly and much appreciated operatic tonality to her performance. She shines magnificently on "You Are Love" and "Nobody Else But Me." (David Clarke, Jan 20, 2013)
Broadway World
If you love for beauty, Yarlung Records
Cooke's attractive, erotic stage presence struck plenty of sparks in "Doctor Atomic", but without question she also delivers the vocal goods. She possesses a firm, fruity mezzo, straight-toned in quality, which allows the listener to luxuriate in her unerring sense of pitch. And she has a strong yet subtle interpretive ability, one that draws the listener in. She doesn't play to the balconies; she makes "you" come to "her", as did the much-lamented Lorraine Hunt Lieberson[...]Cooke's performance is an exercise in simplicity. (Eric Myers, February 2013)
Opera News
Jeremiah Symphony with Detroit Symphony Orchestra
With its setting of the "Lamentations of Jeremiah," the music speaks to a crisis of faith; the portentous weight of the strings underscored the angst. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke's powerfully intense singing of the vocal finale deepened the mournful impression (Mark Stryker, Sept 30, 2012)
Detroit Free Press
Songs and Arias with Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin
Sasha Cooke—what a revelation
It turns out, manifestly Sasha Cooke can do just about everything: simple folksongs, easily and authoritatively rendered musical theater numbers by Gershwin and Weill, as well as comic parody songs interspersed with opera scenes. She has no peer at deftly capturing the faraway sultry mood of “Summertime.” She has remarkable, charismatic stage presence about her. With ease and showmanship, she wraps the audience around her little finger. Vocally faultless, she puts her heart and soul in it. Her appearance brought a heretofore neglected aspect to the Berlin Music Festival: the entertainingness of American music. (Andreas Göbel, Sept 8, 2012)
Kulturradio
Songs and Arias with Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin
The young singer, Sasha Cooke, enchanted the audience not only with her capacious voice, with naturalness in phrasing, with innate charm, as well as stage presence. She did not merely perform entertaining numbers. When the song called for it, Sasha Cooke recited, screaming downright shrilly at one point (in the first phrase of Leonard Bernstein’s “What a Movie!”) A gifted character actress, she gesticulated, moved in time to the music, even danced. All, however, within the bounds of good taste, stylistically fully realized on the spot. The shouts of “Bravo!” of the inspired audience accordingly validated the singer. (Leyla Jaspers, Sept 7, 2012)
Klassik-in-Berlin
Songs and Arias with Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin
She took immediate possession of the hall with three of Aaron Copland’s “American Songs,” with her pleasing, tone color endowed voice, an empathic interpreter spinning gripping stories from the little songs. After the Caberet Songs by William Bolcom—for which Sasha Cooke found precisely the right naughty, off-Broadway tone—she was lionized. For each of the numbers that followed, by Barber, Gershwin, Weill and Bernstein, there was a long round of applause, because she has charm, terrific natural stage presence—and that swing, so seldom found in classically trained singers. (Frederick Hanssen, Sept 9, 2012)
Der Tagesspiegel
Songs and Arias with Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin
"Das amerikanische Wunder"
A still very young singer from California took the stage. She made her entrance in her blue taffeta gown, with such self-assurance as if she had been born a diva [...]This mezzo soprano has the blues in her voice, she has that swing in every fiber of her body. Her voice is wonderfully clear, with a timbre of liquid gold. She rocked the Philharmonie right from the first note of the Shaker song, “Simple Gifts,” she moved the audience so that the out-of-office politicians awoke, and the B-list celebrities felt like A-listers. All applauded like crazy, right after every selection. They didn’t want to let her leave. Her name is Sasha Cooke, a name to take note of. (Eleonore Büning, Sept 9, 2012)
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Wayfarer Songs with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Cooke gave us an exquisitely nuanced performance of Mahler's 'Songs of a Wayfarer.' Most often sung by a baritone, it has different resonances when sung as it has been by many famous mezzos, a list to which we can now add Sasha Cooke. She has a distinctive, expressive voice which has cut
giving it the ability to project through the orchestra. Great understanding of the text and excellent enunciation enabled her personality to shine through to make this a performance to cherish. And the NZSO under Pietari Inkinen was in perfect support with gorgeous winds and lustrous strings to complement Cooke's radiant voice. (Garth Wilshire, April 18, 2012)
Capital Times
Wayfarer Songs with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
American mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke's astounding voice was captivating, providing the right level to convey the emotions of the words. She moved seamlessly from the light and effervescent to the achingly nostalgic and fateful wretchedness. She was able to combine sadness mixed with a sense of hope, the idealism of youth with the reflection of age. (John Daly-Peoples, April 30, 2012)
National Business Review
Wayfarer Songs with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
First, Sasha Cooke, the young American mezzo who was a replacement for Canadian Measha Brueggergosman, revealed herself to be a singer of rare qualities. Her singing of Mahler's early song cycle 'Songs of a Wayfarer' was simply sensational [...] What a voice. Thrillingly free at the top, it is even more spine-tingling down in its contralto region, and the freedom from excessive vibrato gave a clarity to the text. And how vividly she was inside Mahler's words, with each song characterised with great intensity. This was, quite simply, great singing. (John Button, March 19, 2012)
Dominion Post, Wellington
Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien with San Fran Symphony
Advancing through five acts, the spectacle features several outstanding soloists. As the Twin Brother Marcellian, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke exhibited a plush and darkly fragrant voice. (Richard Scheinin, Jan 14, 2012)
San Jose Mercury News
Alexander Nevsky with Cincinnati Symphony
Cooke, in her Cincinnati Symphony debut, projected a richly hued, arresting voice in the tragic lament, “Field of the Dead”. She communicated the heartbreaking text with simplicity yet with a deep sense of sorrow. (Janelle Gelfand, Nov 18, 2011)
Cincinnati Enquirer
Mahler 2 with Aspen Festival Orchestra
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. (Harvey Steinman, Aug 23, 2011)
The Aspen Times
Brahms and Chausson at Chamber Music Northwest
Cooke’s voice and the supreme artistry of the instrumentalists made each piece intoxicating. One of the terrific things Cooke did was not to try to overpower the hall with a deafening forte. Instead she always found just the right volume to fit the words and the music that her colleagues were making[...] (James Bash, July 24, 2011)
Oregon Music News
Mahler 2 with Seattle Symphony
I was particularly taken with Cooke’s mezzo, which has the true alto quality and timbre essential for Mahler. (Philippa Kiraly, June 18, 2011)
The Sun Break
Alexander Nevksy and Brahms Alto Rhapsody with the Kansas City Symphony
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, May 22, 2011)
The Kansas City Star
Bach with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
In both selections Cooke sang with fresh, vibrant, well-focused tone and sensitivity to the dramatic nuances of the text. (Chris Pasles, Mar 20, 2011)
Los Angeles Times
Mozart Requiem with the San Francisco Symphony
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, March 3, 2011)
Bay Area Reporter
Das Lied von der Erde with St Paul Chamber Orchestra
It was mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke who hypnotized listeners like a skilled storyteller. Possessing a voice of hall-filling power, Cooke employed gentleness and subtle emotional shadings at every turn
and made the expansive closing “Farewell” a gripping tour de force. (Rob Hubbard, Jan 8, 2011)
Pioneer Press
Davidde Penitente at Mostly Mozart Festival
Most impressive, however, was Sasha Cooke, a mezzo-soprano who rose to the lofty exploits of the second soprano with dynamic, expressive and technical brilliance. (Martin Bernheimer, Aug 25, 2010)
The Financial Times
Rückert Lieder with Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
The young US-American Sasha Cooke finally plied Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder for the emotional climax; her mezzo soprano evinces impressive power and equally impressive sensitivity, her German [is] excellent, her interpretation, very personal and moving. Bottom line: a successful evening. (Volker Tarnow, September 23, 2010)
Berliner Morgenpost
De Falla with Guitarist Jason Vieaux at Music at Menlo
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, Aug 10 2010)
San Jose Mercury News
Britten with Music at Menlo
Britten's verse settings found an ideal interpreter in Sasha Cooke, who, with [pianist Inon] 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, Aug 5, 2010)
The Financial Times
Britten with Music at Menlo
That voice seemed to be moving solid columns of air; I swear you could feel the vibrations. And Cooke, in the manner of a cabaret singer, kept moving across the tiny stage toward the audience; she communicates. She delivered Britten's sometimes tender, sometimes strangely unsettling lullabies' settings of poems by William Blake, Robert Burns and others- with a deep luster and enfolding warmth that recalled one of the greats, the late Jan DeGaetani. (Richard Scheinin, July 26, 2010)
San Jose Mercury News
Les Nuits d'Ete with the San Francisco Symphony
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.' (Joshua Kosman, June 25, 2010)
San Francisco Chronicle
Shéhérazade at Alice Tully with Chamber Music Society of NY
Sasha Cooke proved to be right at home in this gorgeous cycle. Hers was a warm, captivating performance that emphasized the dramatic imagery in each of the three songs. [...]Cooke gave an exquisite performance...covering a range of emotion from cheerful innocence to bravura posturing, from religious devotion to hearty celebration. (Arlo McKinnon, July 2010)
Opera News
Mahler 2 with Dallas Symphony
A relatively new figure on the vocal scene, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, very nearly stole the show. I never thought that the consonant “r,” as Cooke delivered it in her opening phrase in the fourth movement, could be so beautiful. (Wayne Lee Gay, May 21, 2010)
Front Row in D Magazine
Recital at the Lied Center of Kansas
Cooke demonstrated a voice that combines the finest qualities of a lighter tone with a deeper range. The first song, [Rossini's] ‘Anzoleta 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, Jan 24, 2010)
The Kansas City Star
Jeremiah Symphony with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
The Lamentation, the final movement, was also a revelation, as it introduced us to mezzo Sasha Cooke. This is a big, rich, intensely present voice driven by perceptive musical intelligence. Her singing was beautiful in many ways: as outraged protest, as utter despair, and as a lonely voice crying out amid the aftermath of disaster. (Tom Strini, Sept 26, 2009)
Third Coast Digest
Jeremiah Symphony with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
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, Sept 27, 2009)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
New York Festival of Song "The Welcome Shore"
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, May 21, 2009)
The New York Times
New York Festival of Song "The Welcome Shore"
Elgar’s ‘Sea Pictures,’ which mezzo Sasha Cooke sang as ravishingly as I have ever heard them sung. (Howard Kissel, May 20, 2009)
New York Daily News
Recital at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC
Scaling the full bloom of her voluptuous voice to the museum's intimate hall, Cooke opened with a suave reading of Manuel de Falla's "Seven Spanish Folksongs." A sensual "Asturiana" was matched by the maternal calm of "Nana," and the male-voiced songs did not have too much macho swagger. Cooke struck the right balance for a good song recitalist, neither emoting grotesquely nor leaving the songs' various characters undifferentiated. (Charles T. Downey, May 23, 2008)
The Washington Post
Respighi with La Jolla Music Society
Its 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, Aug 17, 2009)
SanDiego.com
New York Festival of Song "Beginner's Luck"
Her voice is enormous, plush, lustrous, easily so, and perfectly supported. For most of a song recital, of course, she scales it back to merely very pretty, but whenever she reached an appropriate climax, restraint falls away like a superfluous shawl, and the results are resplendent—intimate, but hugely intimate.[...]She is a singing actress to anticipate and a voice to hear one of these days in a place where she can let it fly. (John Yohalem, Oct 29, 2010)
Opera Today
Berlioz at Alice Tully Hall with Orchestra of St. Luke's
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, April 15, 2009)
The New York Times
Doctor Atomic at English National Opera
The mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke—as Oppenheimer’s alcoholic wife, Kitty—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, Mar 2, 2009)
Norwich Evening News
Messiah with Oratorio Society, 2nd appearance
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, Dec 17, 2008)
The New York Times
Doctor Atomic at the Metropolitan Opera
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 McKinnen, June 2011)
Opera News
Doctor Atomic at the Metropolitan Opera
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, Oct 27, 2008)
The New Yorker
John Adams' Doctor Atomic at the Metropolitan Opera
The scenes with Oppenheimer’s wife, Kitty, sung with aching, wistful intensity by the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, are beautifully rendered. (Anthony Tommassini, Oct 14, 2008)
The New York Times
Recital at Austrian Embassy, Washington DC
Those who attended mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke’s Austrian Embassy recital on Monday hoping to hear a healthy dose of opera doubtless left quite satisfied. This poised and lovely singer – who made a big impression on audiences in the Met’s recent production (and telecast) of John Adams’ “Doctor Atomic” – programmed an operatic second half to her recital that sampled Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito,” Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” and Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier," and concluded with Verdi’s operatically scaled art song “L’Esule.” Cooke lent expressive immediacy to all of this music, divining the right emotional temperature for the character singing each aria. Clearly a creature of the stage, she proved a naturally expressive actor, her economic gestures reading as spontaneous, her eyes alive to the quicksilver changes in the music – not just while singing, but during every note of pianist Pei-Yao Wang’s equally expressive, text-specific playing.
But one did not have to wait for the operatic portion of the evening to appreciate Cooke’s rare vocal gifts. A set of Schubert songs, a Bach cantata aria, Ravel’s “Sheherazade” and Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind” were all treated to glowing columns of amber tone, shimmering and keenly focused high notes and a smooth-as-silk chest register, along with Cooke’s unfailingly intelligent and personal phrasing. I can’t remember the last time I heard such a gorgeous mezzo voice singing Schubert, and the Ravel and Sondheim simply took the breath away. (Joe Banno, May 6, 2009)
The Washington Post
Musto and Bolcom Premieres at Weill with New York Festival of Song
Sasha Cooke's suave mezzo took on a suitably maudlin touch as the hapless bride Amadora and brought high spirits to Lucrezia's sex aria. (George Loomis, March 16, 2008)
New York Sun
Recital at Weill Hall
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, April 7, 2008)
The New York Times
Hansel and Gretel at the Met
Of genuine magic there was only one moment all night: the aria of the Sandman, as sung by Sasha Cooke. (John Yohalem, Jan 17, 2008)
Opera Today
Recital at the Gardner Museum in Boston, MA
Keep your eye out for Sasha Cooke, a 23-year-old mezzo who, accompanied by pianist Pei-Yao Wang, sang a thoughtful Gardner Museum concert on Sunday that included three song cycles about women: John Harbison’s mysterious and funny North and South (six incandescent, mercurial poems by Elizabeth Bishop), Debussy’s erotic Chansons de Bilitis, and Schumann’s domestic Frauenliebe und Leben. Cooke has a thrilling, dramatic voice that matches the color of her luxuriant dark red hair, and the empathetic ability to live inside these poems and articulate their variegated emotional shadings. (Lloyd Schwarz, Jan 29, 2008)
The Phoenix
Harbison's North and South with Levine and the Met Chamber Ensemble
Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke provided a moving rendition of these lovely songs, bringing out the great coloration in the vocal line. She was at her best in "Breakfast Song," which depicts the ambivalent, contradictory emotions surrounding a woman on the morning after a night of passion. Due to its more active and full instrumental accompaniment, this work is a risky presentation for Weill Hall's very bright acoustic. However, Cooke's fine vocal projection and the expertise of Levine and his players created an almost ideal balance, allowing the listener to enjoy this work to full advantage. (Arlo McKinnon, Oct 28, 2007)
Opera News
Carnegie Recital Debut at Zankel with Young Concert Artists
Sasha Cooke, a mezzo-soprano, saved Stephen Sondheim’s “Take Me to the World” for the second encore of her New York recital debut on Tuesday night at Zankel Hall. But that title could easily have served as a banner for the entire concert. Over the last few years Ms. Cooke’s New York appearances in orchestral and chamber settings have consistently earned approving notices. In this program, presented by the Young Concert Artists series, she explored a wide range of mostly overlooked selections by an international cast of composers.

In Samuel Barber’s “Four Songs” (Op. 13), Ms. Cooke revealed some of the qualities for which she has earned attention: a rich voice deployed with admirable control, an expressive countenance and a winning ease onstage. Her dark, liquid outpouring of piety in “A Nun Takes the Veil” was countered by the devilish wit of “The Secrets of the Old.” A subtly arched brow underscored rapturous sentiments near the end of “Nocturne."... (Steve Smith, Oct 18, 2007)
The New York Times
Recital at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
Cooke and her excellent associate artist, pianist Pei-Yao Wang, presented an attractive program of rareties from the 19th- and 20th-century song repertory to a mostly full house...During the postlude of Barber's Sure on This Shining Night, she remained completely engaged, a play of emotions flickering across her face as the music changed behind her...It is exciting to hear an excellent voice supplemented by a sharp mind and good taste. (Charles T. Downey, Oct 2, 2007)
Ionarts
Recital at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield, MA
With the self-assurance and technique of a veteran, and a supple yet rich voice, Cooke stormed through 23 songs ranging in style from contemporary American jazz to Gustav Mahler's intense "Ruckertlieder." Her performance must have left many in the audience believing they had witnessed an early stage of a potentially great career. (John Felton, Sept 9, 2007)
The Berkshire Eagle
Dallapiccola with Continuum Ensemble
A highlight was "Sicut Umbra," which sets a female voice against small groupings of instruments. It was sung by Sasha Cooke, a Juilliard student well suited to the range of the evening in general, combining as she did the outward purity of a Renaissance angel and a voice of powerful sensual warmth and excellent musicality. (Anne Midgette, Feb 25, 2006)
The New York Times
Messiah with Oratorio Society of New York, Carnegie Hall
Of the soloists Sasha Cooke, a mezzo-soprano, added the most inventive and at times daring ornamentation to her arias...Both [soprano and mezzo] sang with an appealing clarity. (Allan Kozinn, Dec 20, 2006)
The New York Times
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Radio

Ravel: Shéhérazade
Chausson: Chanson perpétuelle, Op. 37
Chausson: Poème de l'amour et de la mer, Op. 19
Hahn: Chansons grises (7)


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