Classic Notes

Bridgette Cooper's voice was discovered when she was 11

Name: Bridgette Cooper
Job: Mezzo-soprano opera singer, recitalist, actress, and recording artist

Discovered at age 11 during a school concert, Bridgette Cooper has since invited comparisons to opera legend Marian Anderson with performances in iconic productions including Porgy and Bess and Showboat, American Theater of Harlem’s Picnic and Raisin in the Sun. Her operatic repertoire includes Carmen, La Traviata, La Cenerentola, and Cosi fan Tutti. She was a guest soloist for the People’s Inaugural luncheon tribute to first lady Michelle Obama and was invited to sing for the Ambassador of the Bahamas. Cooper also had a small role in HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire, and recently debuted her CD Heavenly Grass: Great American Art Songs.

Early influences and education:
The child of an opera singer and a father who supported her interests in music, Cooper learned to love jazz, choral, and classical music and eventually took violin lessons. After receiving a standing ovation at a high school concert, she was encouraged to formally study her passion. Cooper received a bachelor of music in opera performance from East Carolina University where she was also awarded Outstanding College Students of America. Following her graduation she studied at the Peabody Conservatory for one year, the distinguished Aspen Opera Theatre, and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.

Training:
Operatic training is a lifelong endeavor, and Cooper has been adept at making the world her music conservatory. “Many components converge to make you a well-rounded student of music. It’s about more than the voice. There are many other elements and layers that are essential to performing well such as music history and theory, music in literature and society, what the composers were thinking when they wrote the piece, and how culture affected music and the characters.” When she’s not performing Cooper often joins music conservatories and participates in various music programs.

Performance expectations:
Cooper performs in two to three concerts or recitals a month. “Recital work and concerts differ,” she says. “You can learn a great deal of repertoire performing in concerts and have more flexibility with your life. It’s also critical to remain true to the composer’s intent and what he is trying to convey.” Opera productions require extended periods of national or international touring. “Opera requires tremendous preparation to accurately portray the character. I’m focused on my depiction of the character and her place in history and conveying her in a way that audiences can understand the context of the character and the work itself.”

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