American mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook has excelled in a wide range of roles with leading companies throughout the United States. The Cincinnati Post wrote that she “more than once recalled the great mezzo Marilyn Horne: her luxurious voice showed remarkable flexibility.” Her exciting characterizations garner acclaim as well. Following recent performances of La Cenerentola, the San Francisco Chronicle exclaimed, “As Tisbe, the younger of the two stepsisters, mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook continued her seemingly endless streak as one of the company’s great underused treasures, combining forceful singing and sly comic charm into an irresistible package.”
In the 2016-17 season, Catherine Cook performs Countess de Coigny in Andrea Chénier with San Francisco Opera; the Witch in Humpderdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel with San Francisco Symphony; Older Woman in Dove’s Flight with Opera Parallèle; and sings in recital for a return to Seattle’s Music of Remembrance. In the summer of 2016, she sang Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd with Mill City Summer Opera, and was soloist in David Gockley’s Farewell Opera Gala Concert with San Francisco Opera. Her engagements in the 2015-16 season included Mrs. Lovett and Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia with San Francisco Opera; Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with Houston Grand Opera; Zosha in Heggie’s Out of Darkness with Seattle’s Music of Remembrance; and reprising Gertrude Stein in Cipullo’s After Life with Urban Arias
Ms. Cook’s 2014-15 season included Mrs. McLean in Floyd’s Susannah and Marcellina, both with San Francisco Opera; Mrs. De Rocher in Dead Man Walking with Opera Parallèle; and Gertrude Stein in the premiere of Cipullo’s chamber opera After Life with Music of Remembrance. Her 2013-14 engagements included a return to San Francisco Opera in the title role of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne, also Berta; Dame Quickly in Falstaff with Opera Santa Barbara, and Carole and Natalia in Adam Gorb’s Anya 17 with Opera Parallèle. Recent highlights include a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Marthe in Faust; soloist in Ravel’s Chansons Madecasse and Heggie’s The Deepest Desire for Noe Valley Chamber Music’s 20th season opening night; and a return to Houston Grand Opera as Berta.
Other successes include Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with San Francisco Opera, Jezibaba in Rusalka with Opera Colorado, and returned to San Francisco Opera to sing La Frugola in Il Tabarro, the Monitor in Suor Angelica, La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, and Marthe Schwerlein in Faust. A regular favorite with San Francisco Opera, she has performed as Arlene Kamen and Wang Tai Tai in Wallace’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and The Innkeeper in Boris Godunov. She has also sung as soloist in Elijah at UC/Davis; Mother Goose in The Rake’s Progress for San Francisco Opera; her debut with Houston Grand Opera as Marthe in Faust and as Tisbe in La Cenerentola; Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Annina in Der Rosenkavalier with the San Francisco Opera; soloist in de Falla’s Sombrero de tres picos with San Francisco Symphony; Zulma in L'italiana in Algeri, Marcellina, Flora in La traviata, and the Governess in Pique Dame, all for San Francisco Opera. She has also sung Schumann’s Das Paradis und die Peri, and Le Rossignol, both with the San Francisco Symphony.
A frequent presence at the War Memorial Opera House since her San Francisco Opera debut, Ms. Cook’s roles with the company also include Emilia in Otello, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Florence Pike in Albert Herring, Lapák in The Cunning Little Vixen, Mrs. Sedley in Peter Grimes, Naina in Ruslan and Lyudmila, Second Norn in Götterdammerung, and Jade Boucher in the world premiere production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (CD available on the Elektra label). After making her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in Kát’a Kabanová, she returned for performances of Marthe in Faust, a role which she has also sung with Los Angeles Opera and Baltimore Opera.
Catherine Cook has also been a frequent performer with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where her roles have included Auntie in Peter Grimes, Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro, Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and the Innkeeper in Boris Godunov. Her other operatic credits include further performances of Marcellina with Santa Fe Opera and Hawaii Opera Theatre, Fox Goldenstripe in The Cunning Little Vixen with both Portland Opera and Tulsa Opera, the Marchand in Les Mamelles de Tirésias with L’Opéra Français de New York, the Countess de Coigny and Madelon in Andrea Chénier with Florentine Opera, Marianne in Der Rosenkavalier with the Hong Kong Festival, Ježibaba in Rusalka with Marin Opera, and both Fata Morgana in The Love for Three Oranges and the Old Lady in Candide with Portland Opera.
In concert, Catherine Cook has appeared with the Toledo Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony Pops. She has recorded Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Cincinnati Philharmonia on the Centaur label.
Ms. Cook is a former participant of San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Adler Fellowship and Merola Opera Program where she sang the title role in Ariodante and presented a Schwabacher Debut Recital. She is a winner of the Metropolitan National Council Auditions as well as the Merola Chicago Regional Auditions Yoder Award. Ms. Cook holds a Master of Music from Wichita State University and an Artist Diploma from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, where she won the Normal Treigle Award. She heads the Department of Voice at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and holds the Frederica von Stade Distinguished Chair in Voice at that institution.
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