BAR­BARA COOK Born 1927 so­prano

BBC Music Magazine - - THE FULL SCORE -

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.

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