Coote was born in Frodsham, Cheshire, the daughter of the painter Mark Coote. She was educated at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London (though she did not complete her course), the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester (where she came into contact with Janet Baker and Brigitte Fassbaender) and the National Opera Studio during 1995/96. Coote was a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist from 2001 until 2003. She sings both operatic (particularly trouser roles) and recital repertoire, in the latter often with pianist Julius Drake.
An interpreter of Handel ("his music could keep you going for a whole career") she has performed contemporary pieces such as Dominick Argento's From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, a partly atonal work first performed by Janet Baker, an influence on Coote. Judith Weir has written a song cycle, The Voice of Desire, especially for her; it was premiered at a BBC Chamber Prom.
Coote has performed at England's Opera North, the English National Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York (Hansel in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel), the San Francisco Opera in 2002 (Ruggiero in Handel's Alcina) and 2008 (Idamante in Mozart's Idomeneo). In 2009, she sang Maffio Orsini in Gaetano Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at the Bavarian State Opera. She also appeared in 2011 as Prince Charming in Cendrillon at the Royal Opera House. In 2013, she played Sextus in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Handel's Giulio Cesare.
- 2002: The Choice of Hercules (Handel) – Susan Gritton, Alice Coote, Robin Blaze; The King's Consort – Robert King; Hyperion CDA67298
- 2003: Lieder – (Mahler, Haydn, Schumann) – Alice Coote, Julius Drake (piano); EMI Classics 7243 5 85559 2 9
- 2010: Symphony No. 2 Resurrection (Mahler) – Alice Coote, Natalie Dessay; Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Orfeón Donostiarra – Paavo Järvi; Virgin Classics 50999 694586 0 6
- 2013: Das Lied von der Erde (Mahler) – Alice Coote, Burkhard Fritz (tenor); Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra – Marc Albrecht; Pentatone PTC 5186502
- 2014: Handel Arias – Alice Coote; The English Concert – Harry Bicket; Hyperion
- 2014: Winterreise (Schubert) – Alice Coote, Julius Drake (piano); Harmonia Mundi
- 2015: L'heure exquise – A French Songbook (Poulenc, Hahn, Gounod, Chausson) – Alice Coote, Graham Johnson (piano); Hyperion
- 2016: Sea Pictures (Elgar) – Alice Coote; Hallé Orchestra – Mark Elder; Naxos
- 2016: Schumann Lieder (incl. Frauenliebe und -leben, Dichterliebe) – Alice Coote, Christian Blackshaw (piano); Harmonia Mundi
- "Overview - Alice Coote (b.1968)". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
- Barnett, Laura (16 August 2010). "Portrait of the artist: Alice Coote, mezzo-soprano". The Guardian.
- Allan Ulrich "Opera's Alice Coote on trousers, English songs", San Francisco Chronicle, 1 April 2010
- Richard Wigmore Alice Coote biography, arts.jrank.org
- Nick Kimberley "Alice Coote: 'Nothing touches people more than the human voice, unadorned'", The Independent, 28 July 2002
- Interview with Sean Rafferty, In Tune, BBC Radio 3, 11 February 2010 (Julius Drake's website)