Cultural Life: Alice Coote, Opera Singer

Charlotte Cripps
Friday 16 May 2008 00:00 BST


I'm culturally bereft. I've been rehearsing at Glyndebourne and living in East Sussex in this idyllic cottage. I drive the two miles to the opera house and then back again. All I see are yellow fields of rapeseed, the South Downs and countryside. My culture is the dawn chorus and silence because there are no sirens out here. I'm starting to read Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje; he wrote The English Patient. I found Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles on the shelf in my rented cottage. It has all this erotic language about the landscape and it totally describes the life I'm leading at the moment. The role of Nerone I'm playing in L'incoronazione di Poppea is also highly erotic.


I haven't seen any films since I got here. I'm so focused on my work. I'm completely the wrong person to interview because I am in isolation. The Romanian film Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days, about illegal abortion, was one of the greatest films I've seen. I saw There Will Be Blood a few months ago in New York when I was in Hansel und Gretel at the Metropolitan Opera. Daniel Day-Lewis's performance really affected me and the character has an element of the character I'm playing in L'incoronazione di Poppea – self-destructive and destructive of everyone around him.


I'm listening to anything but opera. Driving to work, I've Let It Be by The Beatles, kd lang's Drag, Painted From Memory, an Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach collaboration, and Martha Argerich and Friends: Live from the Lugano Festival 2006.


I go to the opera when there is something that will inspire me. I'd like to see this new opera at Glyndebourne, Love and Other Demons by Peter Eotvos, based on the novella by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Last year, I went to The Turn of the Screw at the ENO, the David McVicar production. A few months ago I saw the Deborah Warner-directed Happy Days at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. It encapsulated the human experience so completely. I will never forget it.

Glyndebourne Festival Opera (01273 813 813;, 18 May to 31 August

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