Acclaimed soprano new patron for Pegasus opera

portrait of two women
Alison Buchanan (left) artistic director of Pegasus opera company, with Danielle De Niese. Image: Sim Canetty-Clarke

The Brixton-based Pegasus opera company has a new patron – award-winning international soprano Danielle de Niese.

She has been hailed as “opera’s coolest soprano” by the New York TimesMagazine and has gained wide recognition for her superb stagecraft, assured singing, and her ability to communicate on every level, Pegasus said.

She won an Emmy as a TV host at 16, made her Broadway debut at 18 in Les Misérables, and triumphed in her acclaimed West End debut in Man of la Mancha.

She is a prolific recording artist, with four solo albums on Decca.

For her debut solo album, Handel Arias, de Niese was named new artist of the year at the 2008 Echo Awards, received the Orphée D’Or in France, and was nominated for the 2009 Classical Brit award for female artist of the year.

She appears regularly on the world’s most important opera and concert stages, including Paris, Naples, Madrid, Zurich, Berlin, San Francisco, Chicago, Tokyo, Sydney, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and Milan’s La Scala.

Her career has included starring roles at The Metropolitan Opera in productions such as Le Nozze di FigaroCosì fan tutteOrfeo ed EuridiceThe Enchanted Island and Giulio Cesare.

A TV and media personality, de Niese regularly presents the BBC Proms, and her documentaries; Diva DiariesThe Birth of an Opera, and the most recent and highly praised Unsung Heroines, also for the BBC, “attest to her extraordinary ability to communicate on every level,” Pegasus said.

In the spring of this year she produced and starred in her own film version of La Voix Humaine, conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano, for BBC 2 in partnership with the Royal Opera House and Trademark Films.

The film has been nominated for The Golden Prague TV awards and the Venice TV Festival.

Daneille De Niese. Image:Sven Arnstein

Alison Buchanan, artistic director of Pegasus, said: “We are thrilled to make this announcement. Danielle is a trailblazer; her own vocal and artistic excellence inspires excellence in our young artists.

“Her passion and commitment to advocacy and to nurturing our artists ensures them a better future. We welcome Danielle as one of our Pegasus patrons.”

Danielle de Niese said she was delighted to become a patron of Pegasus and to support its goals and purpose.

“As a person of mixed Sri Lankan and European ancestry, I never fit into one ethnic group,” she said. “So it’s particularly poignant for me to become patron of an organisation who also seeks to give talented young artists of multi-ethnic heritage a performance platform.”

“I am a big believer that the great talents usually rise to the top, and the work of Pegasus gives me hope, in this age where inclusivity and accessibility are becoming more than just a set of boxes to tick off, that goals when put into practice, can become reality, no matter who you are.”

Pegasus, now almost 30 years old, is a professional opera company with a widespread family of artists, participants and supporters producing high quality performances.

It balances this with a focus on artist development, having an eye to promoting the talents of emerging artists of African and Asian heritage and bringing them to platforms of note and significance.

“We celebrate the music of rich African, Asian and Caribbean diasporas using creativity to challenge and advocate for positive change,” Pegasus said.

The company will be performing its Black History Month 2022 concert on Saturday 29 October, at Clapham Library, Mary Seacole Centre, 91 Clapham High Street, London from 7pm-9pm

The Legacy and Hope concert will feature top classical singers, Yolanda Grant Thompson, Moloko Letsoalo, Zahid Siddiqui and Msimba Ushe, along with the company’s community choir performing songs from composers of African, Caribbean and Asian heritage including gospel, spirituals, opera, musical theatre, and songs inspired by the Black diaspora.

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