It’s not every day that an opera singer is deemed “cool.” But Danielle de Niese does look and act, at times, more like a pop singer than an opera star. Born in Melbourne of Dutch/Scottish/Sri Lankan parents, de Niese started classical voice lessons at 8, and moved at 10 to Los Angeles to attend a school of performing arts, while working as a television presenter on a teen show called LA Kids. But de Niese always knew she would be a singer. At the startlingly young age of 19 she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, singing Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro. At 25, de Niese stunned audiences and garnered international acclaim with her sultry portrayal of Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the 2005 Glyndebourne Festival in the UK.
Gracing the world’s great opera stages and an exclusive recording contract with Decca may seem an unlikely fate for a former teen TV host born Down Under, but de Niese embraces contrasts and challenges. She’s already starred in her own BBC4 reality show, Diva Diaries, and soon fans will be seeing her on the big screen, playing her first major film role in the Maria Callas biopic Master Class.
She says: "What I do demands the same kind of expertise as a professional athlete."