Saturday 18 November 2017

My cultural life: Danielle de Niese

Opera singer Danielle de Niese
Opera singer Danielle de Niese
Thomas Heatherwick
Finding Dory

Danielle de Niese, called 'opera's coolest soprano' by The New York Times magazine, is one of the biggest stars in classical music today. Born in Australia to Sri Lankan parents, she was a child prodigy and has gone on to thrill audiences at the world's top venues. She is married to Gus Christie, owner of Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and they live in Sussex with their son Bacchus, born in 2015. De Niese performs Mozart arias and Broadway hits with the RTE Concert Orchestra and conductor Robert Houlihan on Thursday, April 6, at the National Concert Hall, part of the RTE CO Signature Series 2017.

Film: 'Finding Dory'

Finding Dory

I never tire of romantic movies like Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sleepless in Seattle and The Notebook. One of my favourites is My Big Fat Greek Wedding which is a wonderful take on the cultural differences trope! I have a 20-month-old now and so have been watching a lot of animated films. A new one I absolutely adore is Finding Dory which has beautiful themes on being special no matter how different you are. And there is my old favourite from my childhood, Hanna-Barbera's animated film Charlotte's Web in which the amazing Debbie Reynolds plays the part of Charlotte. I cannot watch it without weeping and I am so happy my son loves this film.

Band: New Radicals

As an artist I'm very text-orientated so I like anthem songs like one of my all-time favourite songs You Get What You Give by the New Radicals whose refrain goes: "You've got the music in you, Don't let go, You've got the music in you, One dance left, This world is gonna pull through, Don't give up, You've got a reason to live, Can't forget, We only get what we give."

Book: 'The Great Gatsby'

F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby has long been one of my favourites because from the moment I opened the book I was transported. I love that I always feel differently about it based on where I am in my life - different aspects appeal to me at different times. Sometimes it's the curious ambivalence and almost conventional accepting and almost cowardice of Daisy Buchanan. I used to think that I really wanted to play Daisy Buchanan.

Designer: Thomas Heatherwick

Thomas Heatherwick

I am a huge fan of Thomas Heatherwick (above). He is a wonderful innovator and has an amazing talent for making the ordinary extraordinary. His work is really to be beheld - a building that might be just a vessel for the content inside becomes a work of art in and of itself in the hands of Heatherwick. I think his eye is amazing - he sees opportunity for reinvention in almost anything. He is behind the designs for the new Garden Bridge proposal for London's Thames… we also once discussed our mutual dream of erecting an opera house in a far flung place - it would be an amazing house, inside and out!

TV: 'Farscape'

My favourite show is the science fiction epic series Farscape. The show was produced by The Jim Henson company. My best friend used to watch it and I used to rib him for watching a show with puppets in it (we were in our 20s after all!) but then I watched the pilot and got sucked in! It is as epic and as complicated as George Lucas's Star Wars saga. But you had to watch every episode to understand the references and perhaps for this reason, the ratings sometimes faltered.

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