1986, Günzburg, Germany: a fifteen-year-old high school student sings the German Christmas song “Süßer die Glocken nie klingen” – in itself nothing out of the ordinary, if the girl’s music teacher were not married to a singer and vocal teacher who immediately recognizes the outstanding quality of this “crystalline voice.” The teacher’s name: Carmen Hanganu, and the pupil’s: Diana Damrau.
Hanganu accompanies Damrau over the following years, helping her through her first heartbreak and preparing her for her audition at the conservatory.
The audition committee wants to hear more and more, even applauding at the end, and decides that she should not be separated from her teacher. The result: Damrau is not just accepted to the Würzburg conservatory, but Hanganu is offered a teaching position – for only one pupil.
In addition to her extraordinary technique, Damrau also learned from her to think big. Hanganu insists that she have an impossible dream: to sing (as a German!) La Traviata at Milan’s La Scala, a dream that becomes a reality in 2013, Verdi’s anniversary year, at the season opening performance.
“La Damrau” is currently regarded (not only by the New York Sun) as the world’s finest coloratura soprano, and has also conquered the bel canto repertoire.
Born in 1971 in Günzburg, Germany. The down-to-earth artist retains some of her Swabian dialect to this day
Studies voice in Würzburg, where she gives her stage debut in 1995 as Eliza Doolittle in the musical My Fair Lady
1996–2002 festival appearances in Würzburg, Mannheim, and Frankfurt. During this period she also gives her debuts in Berlin, Munich, Vienna, and at the Salzburg Festival. She earns particular acclaim as the Queen of the Night and as Zerbinetta
These are followed by her first appearances at Covent Garden (2003), Milan’s La Scala (2004), and the Met (2005). Today she considers the Metropolitan Opera her “second home”
2006 open-air concert at Munich’s Olympic Stadium during the soccer World Cup, where she performs with Plácido Domingo
2007 earns the title of Bavarian Kammersängerin, exclusive contract with EMI / Virgin Classics, song recital at Carnegie Hall
2008 named Singer of the Year by Opernwelt magazine and receives the European Medal for her “exemplary commitment for Europe”
Further honors including ECHO Klassik Award, International Opera Award, and Bavarian Order of Merit
Diana Damrau lives in Geneva with her husband, French bass-baritone Nicolas Testé, and their two sons Alexander (born 2010) and Colyn (born 2012)
Did you know?
As a young girl, Damrau wants to sing folk songs for her relatives. Before she begins, she hides behind the curtains and the guests have to announce her with the words, “The curtain rises!” Then of course, quite the diva, she doesn’t come out right away.
She has loved classical music since she was a child. She watches Zeffirelli’s Traviata film at the age of twelve and resolves to become an opera singer.
The otherwise resiliently healthy artist struggles with vocal cord problems only once, while still a student. Refusing an operation, she sees thirteen different doctors and takes one-and-a-half years off, without singing a single note, for her recovery.
The singer spends her free time in nature, preferably on horseback. She is also an avid flamenco dancer.
She always travels with family, and now a home schooling teacher is also part of the “family business.” Damrau, her husband, and her sons are all devoted Michael Jackson fans.
After her debut as Lucia, she asks her agent to “get [her] more Lucias.” The athleticism of this role is precisely where she feels at ease. She works with psychiatrists to prepare for the character’s madness.
According to Damrau, it is tantamount to rape when someone who is permitted to attend a dress rehearsal records it, uploads it to Youtube, and to top it off, leaves negative comments.