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Tuesday 16 July 2019

Opera star Danielle de Niese lost her voice during pregnancy ahead of audition

She spoke about the loss of the voice on Desert Island Discs.

Danielle de Niese arrive at the Classic Brit Awards 2018, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. (PA Wire/PA Images/PA)
Danielle de Niese arrive at the Classic Brit Awards 2018, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. (PA Wire/PA Images/PA)

By Craig Simpson, Press Association

Internationally renowned opera singer Danielle de Niese said she lost her voice while pregnant weeks before a major audition.

The Australian-American soprano revealed she sounded like a “husky, James Bond type character”, and was unable to sing in the build-up to her appearing at Glyndebourne.

Speaking to Kirstie Young on BBC Radio 4’s Desert island Discs, the former child star said she was told to have her baby then return to the stage.

The 39-year-old singer also revealed she does not like the sound of her own voice, but she was impressed “one time” when she heard a recording of herself as a child.

She is the self-described “resident diva” of the Glyndebourne opera house where she feared a lost voice caused by her pregnancy would cost her an audition.

“I stopped (singing) around seven and half months,” said de Niese. 

“In the last month of pregnancy I lost my voice altogether.

“I sounded amazing, I sounded like this very sexy, husky James Bond type of character. 

“I was thrilled with that, but I couldn’t sing. 

“I just couldn’t sing, I sounded like I had laryngitis

“I saw the doctor and he said go have your baby and come back in three weeks.

“Of course I knew that three weeks after the supposed due-date I had rehearsals at Glyndebourne. I wasn’t giving that up.”

The soprano has had success at Glyndebourne and around the world, first beginning her career as a young singer in Australia, winning competition Young Talent Time at just nine years old.

After achieving, she says, all she could in Australia, her parents sold their house and took the young talent to Los Angeles to pursue a career in opera.

During a spell in New York, a seven-year-old de Niese for listened to her own voice in appreciation.

She said: “I listened to this track of myself, which is already like a cringeworthy experience.

“But I had one moment, like a sudden ray that came through all the other judgement that I put on myself.

“I heard this and I actually liked it. It was a most amazing moment, to hear something and go: ‘I might be OK’.”

Talking to Young on the Radio 4 show, de Niese said she would take Evergreen by Barbra Streisand, because it was sung to her by her mother, and take Coldplay’s Swallowed In The Sea.

She said the track was playing “on the night my husband first kissed me”.

Desert Island Discs with Danielle de Niese airs on Radio 4 September 16 at 11.15am.

PA Media

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