BARBARA COOK Born 1927 soprano
Barbara Cook (pictured left in 2003) came to prominence in the 1950s with lead roles in the premieres of several Broadway shows. These included Candide (1956) in which, as Cunégonde,
Cook sang the showpiece aria ‘Glitter and be Gay’, tailor-made for her voice by Bernstein. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, daughter of a travelling hat salesman and a telephone operator, Cook fell in love with opera from listening to the radio. ‘We were so poor we didn’t have a record player of any kind,’ she recalled; ‘The radio was my lifeline. I didn’t even know anybody who liked opera or classical music.’ Determined to make a career as a singer, she moved to New York in 1948, eventually making her Broadway debut in Flahooley
(1951). After Candide came The Music Man (1957) and Cook’s most celebrated role – the librarian Marian. When her stage career dried up in the 1970s, she re-established herself as a concert performer of Broadway songs, making her Carnegie Hall debut in 1975.