Radiant American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke caused a sensation as Kitty Oppenheimer in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic. 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."
Cooke opens the 2009-2010 season of the Milwaukee Symphony with Bernstein's "Jeremiah" Symphony in the inaugural concerts of new music director Edo de Waart. She performs two engagements with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony—Stravinsky's Pulcinella and Berlioz's Les nuits d'Été; joins Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream; and makes her debut with the Hong Kong Philharmonic in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde under the baton of Maestro de Waart. She also sings Ravel's Shéhérazade and Cinq mélodies populaires grecques with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Handel's Messiah with the Seattle 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 makes her Seattle Opera debut as Meg Page in Falstaff, conducted by Riccardo Frizza; and sings the tragic Medea in Cavalli's seldom-performed Giasone at Chicago Opera Theater. A dedicated recitalist, Cooke appears with the New York Festival of Song at Merkin Concert Hall; at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theatre; at the Wolf Trap Foundation; in 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 2008-2009 season, 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. Cooke appeared in recital at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts; the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts; the Embassy Series in Washington, DC; Merkin Concert Hall in New York; in the Fortas Chamber Music Series at the Kennedy Center; and with the New York Festival of Song.
Previously at the Metropolitan Opera, where she was a member of the Lindemann Young Artists Development Program, 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. She made her New York recital debut at Carnegie's Zankel Hall in October 2007. 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.
Cooke currently holds the Lindemann Vocal Chair of Young Concert Artists, where in 2007 she won First Prize in their International Auditions, as well as the Rhoda Walker Teagle Prize, the Fergus First Prize, the Swiss Global Foundation Award, and the Embassy Series Concert Prize. Additionally, 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, 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.