Music@Menlo: Canary Cantata. Phot by Geoff Sheil.
Music@Menlo: Canary Cantata. Phot by Geoff Sheil.

Outside with NYU/AOP Opera Workshop, 2019:

“If some of the character turns felt rushed, the performances made up for it; after Couden’s bravura Big Butch Joan aria, I was ready to follow her into battle armed with nothing but the bobby pins on my rainbow yarmulke.” (Brin Solomon, National Sawdust Log)

Bloodhoof with MATA Festival, 2019:

“The tragic heroine was given voice in the MATA production by Sara Couden, a contralto with a rich and resonant voice befitting the giantess. ...Through the efforts of Kristný and Haraldsdóttir, and Couden’s emotive strength..., an 800-year-old injustice, however fictional, was finally tried and given voice.” (Kurt Gottschalk, Bachtrack.com)

La Susanna with Heartbeat Opera/Opera Lafayette, 2019:

“[A] lecturer took the stage while the supertitles announced ‘Our Bodies, Our Stories: Reclaiming the Narrative for Feminism,’ by Dr. Beatrice Armstrong. Dr. Armstrong made the normal introductory requests to turn off cell phones and then launched into her talk—singing in a strong, dark contralto. Her real name is Sara Couden, and she was taking the role of the narrator, Testo...” (Anne Midgette, Washington Post)

“Created for a castrato, the role is given to the extraordinary contralto Sara Couden, who displayed a brazen chest voice and buttery legato phrasing in the role, as well as impressive vocal agility.” (Charles T. Downey, Washington Classical Review)

“Couden delivered Testo’s recitatives in a plummy voice and her arias with zeal and authority.” (Rick Perdian, seenandheard-international.com)

“Only the bracket to the show, Sara Couden, a superb contralto, can suggest in the depths of her lush chest voice, the cruelty that is to come for Susanna, as ‘the scholar’ discusses the sexual abuse of women over the ages.” (Susan Hall, Concertonet.com)

From Jewish Folk Poetry with CMS at Lincoln Center, 2019:

“Ms. Couden excelled in the mournful ‘Cradle Song,’ her voice earthy and haunting as she skillfully manipulated her vibrato to maximum coloristic effect. ...The cycle concludes with the trio ‘Happiness’ in which Ms. Couden carries the narrative with her plushy timbre...” (Oberon’s Grove, oberon481.typepad.com)

DCINY Presents the Music of Sir Karl Jenkins, 2019:

“The soloists of the evening were also exceptional. ...Sara Couden’s beautifully penetrating contralto voice was...a discovery, and her superb diction brought clarity to the despairing fourth movement Lament, with text by Carol Barratt.” (Rorianne Schrade, nyconcertreview.com)

Gamut Bach Ensemble at PCMS, 2018:

“...the rich, deep contralto voice of Sara Couden as she sang of the anticipation of the ‘sweet hour of death’ lulled the audience into deep contemplation.” (Margaret Darby, broadstreetreview.com)

Dejanira, Heartbeat Opera’s Dragus Maximus: a Homersexual Odyssey:

“The clear-voiced contralto Sara Couden was captivating as Dejanira, whose name has been translated as ‘man-destroyer’ (ouch!). And that’s no small job when you are married to Hercules!” (Steven Pisano, feastofmusic.com)

“Contralto Sara Couden’s warm earthy tone caressed us through ‘Where shall I fly?’...with well-sung coloratura, robust with shifting dramatic intent and full of vocal colour. Her performance oscillated between moving sincerity and ironic silliness.” (Lara Secord-Haid, schmopera.com)

Dejanira, Hercules, Staunton Music Festival 2018:

“Sara Couden...was phenomenal in this role. ...Her connection with the audience...was superb; she made us laugh uproariously at the bits of comedy that director Ethan Heard worked into the show (e.g. Dejanira emasculating Hercules by seizing his beer and remote control for herself while singing “Resign thy club”) but also held us all utterly rapt—and sympathetically a little terrified—with “Where shall I fly.” (She got a tremendous ovation for the latter.) ...[H]aving seen her...as Dejanira—a role that traverses emotions from anxiety to mourning, envy and anger to guilt—I would say there is now no limit to her expressive range. Her time in the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Program seems to have been well spent. And her voice is rich and powerful with delicious contralto low ornaments.” (Verdi Prati, verdiprati.tumblr.com)

Telemann’s “Canary Cantata,” Music@Menlo 2018:

“For charm and a sense of goofiness welcome in Menlo’s solemn precincts, nothing could outdo contralto Sara Couden’s performance... Telemann pours all the pathos of early Italian tragic opera into his music; this is transmuted into bathos by the libretto’s intense devotion to the tiny subject of the mourning. Couden milked this contrast with avidity, pouring audible sobs and wails into her deep, thick-toned voice, backing it up with grieving facial expressions and gestures of futility, even grasping at her clothes.” (David Bratman, San Francisco Classical Voice, sfcv.org)

Shostakovich’s From Jewish Folk Poetry, Music@Menlo 2018:

“I was particularly struck by Gilbert Kalish’s understated but intense piano playing and Sara Couden’s wonderful contralto voice, but the whole thing was terrific and hair-raising in a way that only the best Shostakovich can be.” (Wendy Lesser, The Lesser Blog, threepennyreview.com)

Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony 2018:

Urlicht...was beautifully expressed by Metropolitan Opera soloist Sara Couden...” (Fleur Williams, Local Santa Cruz)

“Contralto Sara Couden, in lustrous voice, was fantastic in the setting of Urlicht” (Joe Sekon, Peninsula Review)

Albine, Thaïs, Metropolitan Opera 2017:

“...made everyone in the theater sit up and take notice to hear her magnificent contralto pour out the devout phrases of Abbess Albine. She took ordinary Massenet and made it extraordinary with her opulent delivery. This is a voice I’m eager to hear in Bach or Wagner!” (John Yohalem, Music America)

“Sara Couden gives a warm and winning turn as the Abbess Albine who welcomes Thaïs to the cloister and later prepares her for eternity” (Charles Geyer, La Scena Musicale)

Third Lady, Los Angeles Philharmonic 2017:

“...positively projecting those resounding low notes to the rafters...” (Tony Frankel, stageandscreen.com)

BrahmsBalladen und Romanzen, Marlboro Music 2017:

“Particularly impressive was Sara Couden, unusually a real contralto, with a rich and warm delivery...” (Jim Lowe, Barre Montpelier Times Argus)

Kabanicha, Juilliard Opera 2017:

“...caustic and possessive...delivered tirades at her son in chilling tones” (Anthony Tommasini, New York Times)

“The final scene with her Tichon over Kát’a’s dead body was bone-chilling stuff, as the lonely, repressed woman sought to connect, first with the horrified village and then with her son in a moment of utter, selfish need” (Paul J. Pelkonen, super-conductor.blogspot.com)

Teresa, Met + Juilliard’s Sonnambula 2016:

“Couden’s rich mezzo-soprano and calm demeanor were ideal for Teresa” ( Anthony Tommasini, New York Times)

“Ach, dass ich Wassers g’nug hätte,” New York Baroque Incorporated 2015:

“The highpoint was the disconsolate Lamento by J. S. Bach’s older cousin Johann Christoph Bach, ‘Ach, dsss ich Wasser’s gnug hätte,’ sung to perfection by alto Sara Couden.” (Stan Metzger, seenandheard-international.com)

Schumann, Schubert, and Brahms, PCMS 2016:

“Sara Couden’s opulent contralto was heard to formidably dramatic—at times spine-chilling—effect...” (Bernard Jacobson, seen and heard-international.com)

Bach BWV 53, Marlboro Music 2016:

“Sara Couden sounded especially good in the Bach piece” (Ken Ross, masslive.com)

Penelope, West Edge Opera 2015:

“...regal and darkly expressive...” (Joshua Kosman, sfgate.com)

“...serious vocal and dramatic standout...” (Michael Strickland, sfciviccenter.blogspot.com)

“...sung by a powerful and determined alto Sara Couden—her own emotions ranging from despair to disbelief to deliverance as the drama unfolds” (Niels Swinkels, San Francisco Classical Voice)

“...Penelope’s poignant constancy and suffering...are quite moving both in Monteverdi’s...treatment and in this production’s performance.” “Sara Couden’s contralto-directed voice gave Penelope a grave, innig quality that was very affecting” (Charles Shere, cshere.blogspot.com)

“...a voice so deep she might pass for a contralto...” “...sang with great feeling and conviction” (James Roy MacBean, Berkeley Daily Planet)

Zwei Gesänge, Music@Menlo 2015:

“...Couden sang in a stately contralto, whose even strength across both volume and register summoned up images of a late 19th-century parlor, making for [a] vivid performance” (David Bratman, San Francisco Classical Voice)

Third Lady, Music Academy of the West 2013:

“...Couden, in the often-unremarked role of Third Lady, offered a powerful contralto that provided an unusually rich and resonant foundation for the trio of harmonizing women” (Edmond Johnson, Opera News)