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Margaret Kelly-Cook (Soprano)

Born: Glasgow, Scotland

The Scottish-born soprano, Margaret Kelly-Cook, studied psychology before switching to musical studies full time. She attended the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music where she earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. She returned to the UK and completed the postgraduate opera course at the Royal College of Music in London.

Margaret Kelly has appeared with the London Handel Society in the roles of Nerea in Deidamia, and Emira in Siroe, Re di Persia, both by George Frideric Handel. She has also sung the role of Denise in Sir Michael Tippett's The Knot Garden, the Vixen in Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen, and Cleonilla in the revival of Vivaldi's first opera, Ottone in Villa for BBC Radio3. She has sung the roles of Susanna in Susanna's Secret, and Lucy in The Telephone for the Buxton Festival, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with Travelling Opera, and Norina in Don Pasquale for the European Chamber Opera.

Back in the USA, Margaret Kelly has appeared with South Carolina Opera as Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro and Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, and most recently as the Countess in Palmetto Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro.

Equally active on the concert stage, Margaret Kelly has appeared as a guest soloist throughout England and Europe, including the City of London Choir at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the English Mozart Players, the Leicester Camerata, the Camerata Hispánica, and Musica Dilecta of Barcelona. She has also appeared in concert and solo recitals at the Buxton Festival, UK, Spoleto Festival, USA, the Salzburg Festival in Austria, and with the prestigious EuroConcert Early Music Festival in Barcelona, Spain. In the USA she has appeared frequently with the Charleston Chamber Music Society, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and South Carolina Philharmonic.

Margaret Kelly recorded vocals (both singing and speaking voice-overs) for numerous commercial productions for products ranging from perfume to tuna fish in both England and Spain! Theatre credits include the New York premiere of an original production entitled No Way Out written by Jeff Johnson and produced by Tom O’Horagan (of Hair fame).

Soon to be released are the Greek Songs written by David Maves which she recently recorded with guitarist, Mark Regnier. She performs regularly with her husband, counter-tenor Ricard Bordas, and the early music group, Barcino Baroque, which made its New York City debut in February 2005. Future engagments include concerts in Charleston and Atlanta as well as Piccolo Spoleto Festival, USA.

"With a beautiful focused voice, superb comic timing, and thoughtful phrasing, Cook dominated every selection in which she appeared. She did not steal the show because most of the time she was the show. . . ." (Gilbert and Sullivan Highlights) - Jeff Johnson, The Post and Courier, Charleston
"As the gorgeous Countess Almaviva, Margaret Kelly Cook proved she, too, was a highly gifted young opera singer. . . . She performed exquisitely." (The Marriage of Figaro) - Sidney Palmer, The State, SC
"Margaret Kelly Cook made a ravishing widow Hanna, singing and acting with authority and charm. With her appearance and a voice that moved with consummate ease from command to tenderness, and an embracing, poignant account of the "Vilja-lied," she was a widow anyone could love." (The Merry Widow)- William Starr, The State, S.C.
"Margaret Kelly Cook's high soprano had just the pristine angelic quality that Handel wanted . . . her singing was beautifully phrased and filled with emotion." (
G.F. Handel's Messiah) - Jeff Johnson, The Post and Courier, Charleston
"Rosalinda was beautifully played and exquisitely sung by soprano Margaret Kelly Cook." (Die Fledermaus) - Gene Jones, The State, S.C.|
"Margaret Kelly Cook is an ideal Pamina, stealing the show vocally with her refreshingly clean soprano; her placid stage presence was a plus in conveying the character's innocence." (Die Zauberflöte) - Oliver Tims, The Times (Richmond)
". . . Margaret Kelly Cook stood out for her bright singing and the way in which she matured from a playful cub into a Vixen full of sensuality." (The Cunning Little Vixen) - John Allison, The Times (London), Opera Magazine
"Margaret Kelly Cook's Denise was stark and striking." (The Knot Garden) - Andrew Porter, The Times (London)
"Margaret Kelly Cook gave a rounded portrayal of Nerea, deftly nipping round runs, shaping the melodies with meaningful ease." (Deidamia) - David Blewitt, The Stage (London)
". . . a fine technique, a bright soprano, and an obvious empathy with the [Baroque operatic style]. (Siroe, Re di Persia) - Stephen Petitt, The Times (London)
". . . Margaret Kelly Cook combined a sparky presence with a sweet soprano. She shaped the music's tenderer moments with a touching simplicity but also had the agility to whizz around the staves." (Siroe, Re di Persia) - David Blewitt, The Stage (London)

Source: Bach Festival of Charleston Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2009)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Melvin Dickinson


BWV 69, BWV 120

Links to other Sites

Maargaret Kelly Cook (Bach Festival of Charleston)


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