Anne Sofie von Otter (b. 1955)

Anne Sofie von Otter is a Swedish mezzo-soprano noted for her versatile voice, her trouser roles in classical and romantic opera as well as her interpretations of oratorios, German Lieder, and Scandinavian songs.

2019.08.02 | Jenny Rood and Juliette Victor

Swedish opera singer Anne Sofie von Otter, portrait from October 2011. Photo: Ewa-Marie Rundquist (CC BY 3.0)

Born in Stockholm, von Otter studied in London and Vienna before joining the Basle Opera (1982). Her voice shines in compositions from the Baroque (Monteverdi; Handel) to modern time. 

Because she is an intelligent, perceptive singer who is attentive to text, she has excelled in numerous operatic productions, where she has received special acclaim for her trouser roles (particularly Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose)). Von Otter is also revered for oratorio roles; moreover, her lieder interpretations (e.g., of Brahms, Wolf, Grieg, Schumann and Strauss) are celebrated. She is also noted for her performances of Scandinavian songs, and for originating new roles in contemporary operas by Thomas Adès and Sebastian Fagerlund.

Artistic cooperation successfully enhanced von Otter’s performance, for example, she frequently worked with her long-time accompanist Bengt Forsberg . Additionally, Von Otter does not confine herself to classical music; her collaboration with Elvis Costello won an Edison Award (2002), and in 2007 she released an album of music by composers who had been imprisoned at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. She has recorded with Deutsche Grammophon since 1985 and won numerous awards for the recordings, including a Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo in 2015 for an album of French music.

Further reading:

  • D. Baker, ‘Voice of Distinction’, Opera News 67, 4 (2002), pp. 12-16.