Wednesday 28 September 2016

Opera singer Danielle de Niese: My talent protected me from racism

Published 08/09/2015 | 15:54

Danielle de Niese is currently performing at Glyndebourne opera house
Danielle de Niese is currently performing at Glyndebourne opera house

Award-winning Sri Lankan soprano Danielle de Niese said talent has protected her from racism in the opera industry.

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"I'm aware of racism now but I've never felt that it is something that has ever limited me. I think music, like sport, sees things more democratically. Talent is talent," she told Radio Times.

De Niese, who is currently performing at Glyndebourne opera house, said that her parents "sheltered" her from racism during a childhood in Melbourne and Los Angeles so she was not held back.

However she admitted that women face a tougher challenge than men: "I just think if you're good, you'll rise to the top, but there are some biases against women."

The opera singer is married to Glyndebourne's chairman Gus Christie and said that her decision to return to work only three weeks after giving birth to her first child left people "gobsmacked" and asking questions about women trying to "have it all".

She also shares four stepsons with Christie from his first marriage and remains adamant that it is possible to juggle a career and family.

"I do want it all. I want the happy marriage, and the beautiful children, a great career ... I want all of those things, so I shall have all of these things. I'll just have to work it out," she said.

She added: "People ask women more questions about 'having it all'. Give me a hedge-fund manager who is a man and has five children - no one says to him 'So, it looks like you just want to have it all, don't you?'"

De Niese's career is in its ascendancy as she plays a dual role in Glyndebourne's Ravel double bill, including taking on the part of small boy in Ravel's L'Enfant Et Les Sortileges, described as her "Meryl Streep moment".

"I'm stepping into a new era of my career, where I'm not going to be put in a box," she said.

The soprano will next perform in the Last Night of the Proms on September 12, singing a medley from The Sound Of Music at the Albert Hall.

Press Association

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