Anne Sofie von Otter

Anne Sofie von Otter
Anne Sofie von Otter (2011)
Born (1955-05-09) 9 May 1955 (age 68)
Alma materGuildhall School of Music and Drama
OccupationMezzo-soprano singer
(m. 1989; died 2018)

Anne Sofie von Otter (born 9 May 1955) is a Swedish mezzo-soprano. Her repertoire encompasses lieder, operas, oratorios and also rock and pop songs.

Early life

Von Otter was born in Stockholm, Sweden. Her father was Göran von Otter, a Swedish diplomat in Berlin during World War II. She grew up in Bonn, London and Stockholm. She studied in Stockholm and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where her teachers included Vera Rózsa. In 1982, she won second prize in the ARD International Music Competition.

From 1983 to 1985, she was an ensemble member of the Basel Opera, where she made her professional operatic début as Alcina in Haydn's Orlando paladino. She made her Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, début in 1985 and her La Scala debut in 1987. Her Metropolitan Opera début was in December 1988 as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro.


Her recording of Grieg songs won the 1993 Gramophone Record of the Year, the first time in the award's history that it had gone to a song recording. In 2001, she released her album with Elvis Costello, For the Stars, for which she won an Edison Award. She was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo in 2015 for her album of French songs, Douce France. She is a regular recital and recording partner with Swedish pianist Bengt Forsberg.

In 2006, von Otter sang the Evangelist in the premiere of Sven-David Sandström's Ordet – en passion. Other work in contemporary music has included singing the role of The Woman in Senza Sangue of Péter Eötvös. In other media, she appeared in the film A Late Quartet.

In 2007, she released an album of music written by composers imprisoned in the Nazi ghetto of Theresienstadt concentration camp (also known as Terezin) before their transportation to the death camp of Auschwitz. She collaborated on this project with Christian Gerhaher (baritone) and chamber musicians. She has stated that the material has special personal meaning for her as her father had attempted unsuccessfully during the war to spread information that he had received from SS officer Kurt Gerstein about the Nazi death camps.

In 2016, von Otter sang Leonora in the world premiere of Thomas Adès' The Exterminating Angel, and again in 2017 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She created the principal role of Charlotte in Sebastian Fagerlund's 2017 opera Autumn Sonata, based on the 1979 film by Ingmar Bergman at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki conducted by John Storgårds.

Family life

Von Otter was married to Benny Fredriksson until his suicide on 17 March 2018. He was an actor and managing director of The Stockholm House of Culture, including the Stadsteater (Stockholm City Theatre). The couple had two children. She lives in the capital Stockholm.

Awards and honours


Selective charting albums

Anne Sofie von Otter, 2013

(Peak positions in Sverigetopplistan, the Swedish national record chart)

Year Album Peak positions
1993 Grieg Songs (DG) 46  –  –  –  –
1994 Speak Low 25  –  –  –  –
1999 Home for Christmas 16  –  – 72  –
2001 For the Stars
(Anne Sofie von Otter meets Elvis Costello)
25 81 59 80 33
2006 I Let the Music Speak 13  –  – 63  –
(Anne Sofie von Otter & Bengt Forsberg)
59  –  –  –  –
2007 Terezín / Theresienstadt
(Anne Sofie von Otter / Bengt Forsberg)
56  –  –  –  –
2010 Ombre de mon amant 32  –  –  –  –
Love Songs
(Anne Sofie von Otter / Brad Mehldau)
34  –  –  –  –
2013 Douce France 58  –  –  –  –


Lieder and songs

Complete operas

Aria recordings

  • Anne Sofie von Otter sings Offenbach, conducted by Marc Minkowski – Deutsche Grammophon
  • Baroque Arias by Handel, Monteverdi, Roman and Telemann, with the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble – Proprius
  • Ombre de mon amant, French baroque arias conducted by William Christie – Archiv
  • Opera Arias by Gluck, Haydn and Mozart, conducted by Trevor Pinnock – Archiv

Oratorios, symphonies, etc

Other music

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