Soprano Danielle de Niese: “I went back to work three weeks and three days after giving birth”

Danielle de Niese (43) is a soprano. Born in Melbourne, she moved to LA with her family when she was 10 to take singing lessons. At 15, she made her professional debut with LA Opera. She lives in Glyndebourne, England with her husband Gus Christie, Chairman of Glyndebourne Festival Opera. She has four stepsons from Gus’ first marriage and two children with Gus – Bacchus (seven) and Sheherazade (two).

What was it like growing up in Melbourne?

Most of my childhood pictures show all my teeth because I was always smiling. I was very outgoing, lively and bubbly. I used to sing and dance and twirl in the kitchen.

The weather in Melbourne is so beautiful that the fact that you are in a warm climate makes the quality of life infinitely happier. It was beautiful countryside and there was a lot of culture and theater and art.

Where did the music come from?

My mother sang and took piano lessons, but she didn’t want to sing professionally. Music was a big part of our lives at home. She taught me the difference between just singing and making my own music. To this day I value your opinion. I often ask her to be present at rehearsals.

Who is your role model and why?

My mother! I wanted to be like her when I was little. When I was growing up, I didn’t realize that many girls would roll their eyes when talking about their mothers. Mine was beautiful, kind, loving and funny. She always thought of anything we needed and although she has worked my entire life, I can never remember her not being there.

What drives you?

I always want to do my best.

Best advice given?

Dare to dream.

Best advice you give?

I always say to singers: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and fail at something.


Danielle de Niese. Picture by Chris Dunlop/Decca

At 19 you made your Metropolitan Opera debut alongside three stars of the opera world – Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli and Bryn Terfel – in The Marriage of Figaro. What did you learn from them?

Renée was at the forefront of that luxurious, glorious sound. She would open her mouth and spit out this incredible sound. Cecilia was radiant – so hardworking and very kind. And Bryn was great fun and we stayed friends. I learned so much about artist generosity from them.

There were no egos, crowds or irritation when working with these A-listers. It was just honest hard work, good collaboration and doing everything for our incredible director, the late Jonathan Miller.

Any rituals before you go on stage?

I’m pretty flexible, but I need time to warm up. When this time is taken away from me, I become restless.

What’s the biggest misconception about sopranos?

That we are not intelligent and only sing. Some people think we have great voices but don’t know anything about music. This myth haunts many singers, not just sopranos. It couldn’t be further away
the truth.

How has motherhood changed you?

My voice got richer and wider. I went back to work three weeks and three days after Bacchus was born. I was breastfeeding and injured both my legs jumping off a pillar because my joints were so loose. It was crazy but awesome to do. Everything got better.

In one opera I played a cheeky seductress and in the other a boy. That was my Meryl Streep moment. It was one of the most fulfilling moments in my life. I had just had a child and my strength felt extra as I could handle anything. Women have undreamt-of reserves within themselves.

Have you ever had a break?

no I’m really lucky to be one of the few people making a career out of something I love. We are the few. I took up my passion and I am successful with it.

What are you doing to laugh?


Danielle will experience two performances with the National Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor Jaime Martín at the National Concert Hall: Poulenc’s “La Voix Humaine” and Brahms’ “Symphony No. 3” on Friday and Ravel and Mozart on February 3rd Soprano Danielle de Niese: “I went back to work three weeks and three days after giving birth”

Fry Electronics Team

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