To many, Diana Damrau is the complete coloratura soprano. With a beautiful voice and astounding technique that allows her to reach the highest notes with seeming ease, she has a keen sense for drama, giving her operatic characters real emotions and total believability. She also exudes a likable quality on-stage, and as her many fans eagerly note, sex appeal. While she is perhaps best known for roles in Mozart and Richard Strauss operas, her repertory takes in operas by Vivaldi, Beethoven, Rossini, Wagner, and many others. She also sings lieder by Richard Strauss, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Mahler, and Wolf, among others. Damrau regularly appears at the major opera houses and concert venues across the U.S. and Europe, including the Met, Covent Garden, Carnegie Hall, and the Vienna Musikverein.
Damrau was born in Günzburg, Germany, on May 31, 1971. Her vocal studies were at the Würzburg Musikhochschule, where her teachers included Carmen Hanganu. Damrau had further studies in Salzburg with Hanna Ludwig. Damrau steadily built her career, beginning with appearances at the Stadttheater Würzburg, and then at the Nationaltheater Mannheim and the Frankfurt Opera. During this period, Damrau often sang in operettas (e.g., Lehár's The Merry Widow) and musicals (My Fair Lady).
Damrau debuted at Covent Garden in 2003 as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute. The following year, she sang the title role in Salieri's L'Europa riconosciuta in a television broadcast from La Scala, with Riccardo Muti conducting. The breakthroughs continued with her 2005 Met debut as Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. In 2007, Damrau astounded Met audiences when she sang Pamina for six performances and then, in the same run, the Queen of the Night for two. After the birth of her first son in 2010, Damrau resumed her busy schedule: in 2011 she sang Elvira in Bellini's I puritani in Geneva, and then returned to the Met as Countess Adèle in Rossini's Le Comte Ory and as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto. Similarly, the birth of her second son in 2012 didn't slow down her performance docket, returning to the stage in 2013. That year, she premiered Iain Bell's A Harlot's Progress in the title role at the Theater an der Wien.
Damrau has recorded for EMI, Virgin Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Opus Arte, and other major labels. 2007 saw several major releases by Damrau, including Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn, alongside Iván Paley, and her first solo release, Arie di Bravura. Damrau earned Echo Klassik awards for her albums Poesie (2011) and Forever (2014), and she was named Female Singer of the Year in 2018 by Opus Klassik for her album Grand Opera. In 2020, Damrau issued the album Tudor Queens, with Antonio Pappano, and a recording of lieder by Richard Strauss, with Helmut Deutsch and Mariss Jansons.
© Robert Cummings & Keith Finke /TiVo