The Australian-born, lyric soprano, Danielle de Niese, was born in Melbourne, after her parents, Chris and Beverly, had migrated from Sri Lanka to Australia as teenagers - she is of Sri Lankan and Dutch heritage. In 1988, at the age of 9, she became the youngest ever winner of the Australian TV programme Young Talent Time, singing a Whitney Houston medley, for which the prize was A$ 5,000 and a Yamaha baby-grand piano, which she still possesses. In 1990, her family moved to Los Angeles. She has been captivating audiences since childhood, when she was a fixture of Los Angeles local television hosting a weekly arts showcase for teenagers, L.A. Kids, for which she won an Emmy Award at the age of 16. Trained in dance and piano as well as music at the famed Colburn School in Los Angeles, she participated in the Tanglewood, Aspen and Marlboro summer programmes before going to New York in 1997 to attend the Mannes School for Music.
Danielle de Niese made her professional operatic debut at the age of 15 with the Los Angeles Opera. Her career got off to a prestigious start when, at 18, she became the youngest singer ever to enter the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. A year later, at the age of 19, she made her house debut as Barbarina in a new Jonathan Miller production of Le nozze di Figaro in a cast featuring Renée Fleming, Bryn Terfel and Cecilia Bartoli, and led by James Levine. She was subsequently asked to perform the title role in the Met's production of Maurice Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges. Other Met roles include Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare (2007), Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice (2009), and Susanna in the same production of Le Nozze di Figaro in which she sang Barbarina in 1998. The New York Times hailed De Niese's performance, writing, "Her singing is utterly delectable and completely assured ... Sheer 'joie de vivre' and mastery come spilling across, to the eyes as well as the ears."
Soon after here Met debut, came important operatic debuts with the Netherlands Opera, Saito Kinen Festival and Paris Opera. But it was her portrayal of Cleopatra in a David McVicar production of George Frideric Handel's Giulio Cesare for her 2005 Glyndebourne Festival debut that brought her true international acclaim. She appeared in the same production at Glyndebourne also in 2006 and 2009, and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2007. Danielle de Niese's still growing career has ranged through early Baroque music (Poppea in L'incoronazione di Poppea), via G.F. Handel, W.A. Mozart and contemporary opera premieres (RAAFF by Robin de Raaff, 2004, De Nederlandse Opera) at major opera houses around the world, to Broadway (Les Misérables) and film (Hannibal) roles. She has appeared in productions of a number of Baroque operas on stage and on DVD, for example the Les Arts Florissants production of Les Indes galantes by Jean-Philippe Rameau. At the end of 2006, when De Nederlandse Opera staged the three Mozart/Da Ponte operas conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, de Niese sang Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Despina in Così fan tutte.
With her "sweet, gleaming soprano", "phenomenal musicality" and "sharply comic, yet utterly moving" acting, combined with youth and physical presence, Danielle de Niese regularly graces many of the world's most prestigious opera and concert stages. She has enjoyed operatic successes on the stages of the Paris Opera, Zürich Opera, Netherlands Opera, San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, among many others. Orchestral engagements have included appearances with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields.
In the 2009-2010 season Danielle de Niese returned to the Metropolitan Opera in the same production of Le nozze di Figaro in which she made her house debut, but this time as Susanna. Other important opera engagements included L'incoronazione di Poppea with the Teatro Real, G.F. Handel's Semele at the Theâtre des Champs-Élysees, and Giulio Cesare at the Glyndebourne Festival, as well as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Additionally, she toured Europe with the period-instrument ensemble Il Giardino Armonico in an all-Handel programme. Danielle de Niese's 2010-2011 season began with appearances as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with the San Francisco Opera under Nicola Luisotti, continuing at the Metropolitan Opera as Despina in Così fan tutte, with William Christie conducting, and at Vienna's Theater an der Wien in the title role of G.F. Handel's Rodelinda under Nikolaus Harnoncourt. She returns to the Glyndebourne Festival in June 2011 for her first performances as Adina in L'Elisir d'amore.
The Netherlands Opera awarded Danielle de Niese their "Prix d'Amis" as their audiences' choice of the past season's favourite performer. She has an exclusive recording contract with Decca. She is the recipient of the 2008 Echo Award's New Artist of the Year, as well as the 2008 Orphee d'or given by the Academie du Disque Lyrique for her 2007 debut album, Handel Arias. Her much-lauded second recording, The Mozart Album, followed in 2009, and Diva was released in July 2010 in the UK. Beauty of the Baroque, an album of favourite arias from the English, German, and Italian traditions, accompanied by the The English Concert under Harry Bicket, will appear in June 2011.
Danielle de Niese (called Danni by her friends and colleagues) married Gus Christie, chairman of Glyndebourne Festival Opera on December 19, 2009 in St Bartholomew-the-Great, London. Since her marriage she has lived at Glyndebourne in Sussex, England.