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Anne Sofie von Otter

Mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter is known for her versatility in operatic roles, her interesting recital choices, and her willingness to take vocal risks.

Her father was a Swedish diplomat whose career took the family to Bonn, London, and back to Stockholm while Anne Sofie was growing up. As a result, she gained fluency in several languages. She studied music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Her main voice teacher was Vera Rozsa, while Erik Werba and Geoffrey Parsons coached her in lieder interpretation. She gained a contract with the Basle Opera in 1983 and remained there until 1985, debuting as Alcina in Haydn's Orlando Paladino. A tall, statuesque woman, she took several male roles written for mezzo-sopranos ("trouser roles"), including Cherubino in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, Hänsel in Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel, Orpheus in Gluck's Orfée et Eurydice, Octavian in Strauss' Rosenkavalier, the Composer in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, and the title role of Rossini's Tancredi.

One reason for the high proportion of Baroque- and Classical-era operas in her repertory is an important working relationship with conductor John Eliot Gardiner. She first auditioned for him in 1985, but failed to make an impression then. It was only with a subsequent chance for him to hear her that he began working with her. She has joined him in recordings of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; Mozart's Clemenza di Tito, Idomeneo, and Requiem; Monteverdi's La favola d'Orfeo and L'incoronazione di Poppea; Handel's Agrippina and Jephtha; Gluck's Orfée et Eurydice; and Bach's Christmas Oratorio and St. Matthew Passion. He also conducted von Otter's recording of Weill's Seven Deadly Sins and selected theater songs.

Another major artistic partner is pianist Bengt Forsberg, her recital partner and a leading scholar of song literature. Von Otter relies on him to suggest songs and organize the programs of her recitals. With him, she has tended to specialize in lieder from the beginning and end of the Romantic period, including well-received recordings of songs by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Zemlinsky, Korngold, and Mahler as well as the late Romantic Nordic composers Grieg, Alfvén, Rangström, Stenhammar, and Sibelius. Other recordings include Terezin/Theresienstadt, music from the concentration camp; Love Songs by Brad Mehldau; and 2013's Douce France.

When she came to record Weill's Seven Deadly Sins, she used the original version for high soprano, a range she possesses, rather than the once-traditional mezzo-soprano version made for Lotte Lenya late in that singer's career. Von Otter has also recorded Alban Berg's Seven Early Songs, another strain for many high sopranos. In addition, she is not averse to stretching her voice for dramatic effect. "I believe in shock effects," she once said in an interview. However, past the age of 40 she had some particularly bad experiences as a result of these two tendencies and, she admits, hurt her voice. As a result, she has decided to be "sensible" and transpose down.

She and her husband, stage designer Benny Frederiksson, live in Stockholm with their two children. ~ Rovi Staff
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Douce France

Disc 1
Composer: Reynaldo Hahn
Title: L'heure Exquise, For Voice & Piano (No. 5 From Chansons Grises)

1. L'heure Exquise, For Voice & Piano (No. 5 From Chansons Grises): L'heure Exquise

Title: Le Plus Beau Présent, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book II")

2. Le Plus Beau Présent, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book II"): Le Plus Beau Présent, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book II")

Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns
Title: Clair De Lune, Song For Voice & Piano

3. Clair De Lune, Song For Voice & Piano: Clair De Lune

Title: Si Vous N'avez Rien à Me Dire, Song For Voice & Piano

4. Si Vous N'avez Rien à Me Dire, Song For Voice & Piano: Si Vous N'avez Rien à Me Dire, Song For Voice & Piano

Title: Vogue, Vogue La Galere

5. Vogue, Vogue La Galere: Vogue, Vogue La Galère

Composer: Reynaldo Hahn
Title: Quand Je Fus Pris Au Pavillon, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book II" And "Rondels")

6. Quand Je Fus Pris Au Pavillon, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book II" And "Rondels"): Quand Je Fus Pris Au Pavillon, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book II" And "Rondels")

Title: Puisque J'ai Mis Ma Lèvre, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book II")

7. Puisque J'ai Mis Ma Lèvre, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book II"): Puisque J'ai Mis Ma Lèvre, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book II")

Title: Cimetière De Campagne, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book I")

8. Cimetière De Campagne, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book I"): Cimetière De Campagne, For Voice & Piano (From "Melodies, Book I")

Composer: Gabriel Fauré
Title: Le Secret ("Je Veux Que Le Matin L'ignore Le Nom"), Song For Voice & Piano In D Flat Major, Op. 23/3

9. Le Secret ("Je Veux Que Le Matin L'ignore Le Nom"), Song For Voice & Piano In D Flat Major, Op. 23/3: Le Secret ("Je Veux Que Le Matin L'ignore Le Nom"), Song For Voice & Piano In D Flat Major, Op. 23/3

Composer: Maurice Ravel
Title: D'anne Jouant De L'espinette, Song For Voice & Harpsichord (Or Piano) (éPigramme De Marot No. 2)

10. D'anne Jouant De L'espinette, Song For Voice & Harpsichord (Or Piano) (éPigramme De Marot No. 2): Deux éPigrammes De Clément Marot: D'anne Jouant De L'espinette

Title: Ballade De La Reine Morte D'aimer, For Voice & Piano

11. Ballade De La Reine Morte D'aimer, For Voice & Piano: Ballade De La Reine Morte D'aimer

Composer: Claude Debussy
Title: Chansons De Bilitis (3), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, L. 90

12. Chansons De Bilitis (3), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, L. 90: I. La Flute De Pan

13. Chansons De Bilitis (3), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, L. 90: II. La Chevelure

14. Chansons De Bilitis (3), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, L. 90: III. Le Tombeau Des Naiades

Composer: Charles Martin Loeffler
Title: La Cloche Fêlée (The Riven Bell), For Voice & Piano

15. La Cloche Fêlée (The Riven Bell), For Voice & Piano: La Cloche Fêlée (The Riven Bell), For Voice & Piano

Title: Sérénade (Serenade), For Voice & Piano

16. Sérénade (Serenade), For Voice & Piano: Serenade, For Voice & Piano

Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns
Title: Danse Macabre, Song For Voice & Orchestra

17. Danse Macabre, Song For Voice & Orchestra: Danse Macabre, Song For Voice & Orchestra

Disc 2
Composer: Monique Serf
Title: Gottingen
Title: Quel Jolie Temps (Septembre)

4. Quel Jolie Temps (Septembre): Quel Jolie Temps (Septembre)

Composer: Francis Lemarque
Title: A Paris

5. A Paris: A Paris

Composer: Manos Hadjidakis
Title: Le Facteur

6. Le Facteur: Le Facteur

Composer: Michel Legrand
Title: Chanson Des Jumelles

7. Chanson Des Jumelles: Chanson Des Jumelles

Title: I Will Say Goodbye (Je Vivrai Sans Toi)

8. I Will Say Goodbye (Je Vivrai Sans Toi): Will Say Goodbye (Je Vivrai Sans Toi)

Composer: Reynaldo Hahn
Title: Chanson D'automne

14. Chanson D'automne: Chanson D'automne

x

Track List: Anne Sofie Von Otter - Johannes Brahms Lieder

Title: Zigeunerlieder (8), For Voice & Piano (arranged From Op. 103)
Title: Songs (6) for voice & piano, Op. 97
Title: Romances And Songs (5) For Voice(s) & Piano, Op. 84
Title: Songs (4) For Voice & Piano, Op. 43
Title: Songs (8) For Voice & Piano, Op. 57
Title: Songs (5) for voice & piano, Op. 72
Title: Songs (4) For Voice & Piano, Op. 43
Title: Songs (9) For Voice & Piano, Op. 63
Title: Songs (9) for voice & piano, Op. 32
Title: Songs (8) For Voice & Piano, Op. 57
Title: Songs (9) For Voice & Piano, Op. 63
Title: Songs (5) For Voice & Piano, Op. 107
Title: Songs (5) For Voice & Piano, Op. 106
Title: Songs (5) For Voice & Piano, Op. 47
Title: Songs (5) For Voice & Piano, Op. 49
Title: Songs (2) For Alto, Viola & Piano, Op. 91
x

Track List: Anne Sofie von Otter - Love's Twilight (Late Romantic Songs by Berg, Korngold, Strauss)

Composer: Richard Strauss
Title: Das Rosenband, Op. 36, Songs
Title: Lieder (5), Op. 32
Title: Das Rosenband, Op. 36, Songs
Title: Op. 37, Songs
Title: Op. 46, Songs
Title: Op. 39, Songs
Title: Op. 19, Songs
Composer: Alban Berg
Title: Early Songs (7), For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra)
Composer: Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Title: Einfache Lieder for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op 9/1-6, complete
Title: Lieder (3) for voice & piano, Op 18
Title: Lieder (5) for voice & piano, Op 38
Title: Abschiedslieder (4) For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), Op 14/1-4, Complete
Title: Sonett Für Wien for voice & piano, Op 41
x

Track List: Grieg: Songs

Title: Haugtussa (the Mountain Maid), Song Cycle for Voice & Piano, Op. 67
Title: Songs (6) For Voice & Piano, Op. 48
Title: Songs (6) For Voice & Piano, Op. 25
Title: Et Håb (A Hope), Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 26/1
Title: Melodies (12) After Poems By Vinje, For Voice & Piano, Op. 33
Title: Songs (5) For Voice & Piano, Op. 60
Title: Barnlige Sange (Children's Songs) (7) for Voice & Piano, Op. 61
Title: Melodies (12) After Poems By Vinje, For Voice & Piano, Op. 33
Title: Romances (6) Old & New, For Voice & Piano, Op. 39
Title: Hjertets Melodier (Melodies Of The Heart) (4) For Voice & Piano, Op. 5
Title: Forårsregn (Spring Showers), Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 49/6
x

Track List: Monteverdi - L'incoronazione di Poppea / McNair, von Otter, Hanchard, Chance; Gardiner

Disc 1
Title: L'incoronazione Di Poppea, Opera In 3 Acts, Sv 308
Disc 2
Disc 3
x

Track List: Sogno Barocco

x

Track List: Songs & Chamber Music

Disc 1
Title: Lieder (4) (From Shakespeare) For Voice & Piano, Op. 31
Title: Lieder (3) For Voice & Piano, Op. 22
Title: Suite For 2 Violins, Cello & Piano Left Hand, Op. 23
Title: Mariettas Lied Zur Laute, For Violin & Piano (From Die Tote Stadt)
Disc 2
Title: Abschiedslieder (4) For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), Op 14/1-4, Complete
Title: Quintet For Piano & Strings In E Major, Op 15
Title: Songs Of The Clown, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29
Title: 2 Lieder O. Op.

Comments

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Must put this artist in my Song Radio collection. Which was a lot easier before the new format, which may help to explain why it was changed. With an upgrade I can probably fine tune things like I used to. Maybe not. Will I remember this note so when I'm playing the Songs station I'll remember to include von Otter? I don't know.

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