Opera Star Danielle de Niese ’97 Visits Crossroads
Singer shares advice and insights with Middle and Upper School music students.
Danielle de Niese ’97 currently stars in the world premiere of the modern opera “Eurydice” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. “The music is hard,” she acknowledged to Middle and Upper School music students on Feb. 10. “It changes meters maybe eight or nine times a page.”
But Danielle didn’t need the opera’s music director to teach her how to sing the challenging score. She says her music education at Crossroads gave her the tools to work through it herself. “It brought me back to the music building here, learning about augmented sixths,” she recalls. “I learned the music by myself because I knew music theory.”
Before Danielle started eighth grade, her family moved from Australia to the U.S. and enrolled her and her younger brother, Andrew, at Crossroads. Danielle studied music theory with Mary Ann Cummins and Warren Spaeth, who were both in attendance for her talk.
Danielle discussed her experience as a professional artist, debuting at the LA Opera at 15 and the Metropolitan Opera at 19. Since then, she has starred in classics and premieres on the world’s most famous opera stages. The New York Times has dubbed her “opera’s coolest soprano”; BBC Radio calls her “the most sought-after singer on the planet.” She now resides in England.
Speaking in Roth Hall with Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute Director Emily Stewart, Danielle shared, “I got so much of my performing experience in this hall. Having the right schooling shapes you as a person and as an artist. Crossroads has the best teachers; they look at you and value you as a person. I have a 4-year-old now and I’m trying to find the Crossroads of England. Crossroads set the bar so high.”
Danielle’s talk with Emily touched on issues including increasing gender and racial diversity in the opera world, the necessity of proper vocal training and how to calm inevitable nerves. She took questions from students and shared what she hopes audiences take away from her performances.
“To be moved is everything to me,” she said. “I want them to go on a journey with me and be moved. That’s more important than how beautiful my voice is.”
“Eurydice” runs through Feb. 23 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.