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Opera stars channel their pop power

When Danielle de Niese goes on her frequent international tours, she carries a visa listing her occupation as Opera Singer.

When Danielle de Niese goes on her frequent international tours, she carries a visa listing her occupation as Opera Singer. Customs officials usually react with disbelief: “But you don’t look like an opera singer!”

At 30, de Niese, slim and gorgeous, is one of today’s hottest opera stars.

“There have always been beautiful opera singers,” she points out. “But today we live in a very visual age. As an opera singer, you have to be able to both sing and act, and there’s always someone who records the performance and puts it on YouTube.”

Such performances are worth watching, even on YouTube; today’s new opera stars defy people’s notion of opera as a boring art form performed by fat, old singers. Perhaps that’s why Vanity Fair recently featured a photo spread of several opera stars, and Playboy let readers vote on the “hottest classical babe.”

“30 years ago, opera singers didn’t work out, but today going to the gym is often as important to them as going to rehearsals,” explains Sarah Billinghurst, the assistant manager in charge of artistic programming at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

“Today there are many fabulous singers who also look fantastic on stage. And female singers, in particular, are very sophisticated about how they look on stage and in photo shoots.”

De Niese, a Dutch-Sri Lankan who was born in Australia, is no opera nerd: As a teenager in Los Angeles, she danced and hosted a TV show for teenagers.

“I had many career options, but classical music is like a love affair,” she says. “And opera has the potential to reach huge audiences. It touches you whether you have a music degree or not.”
Especially if the performers are gorgeous.

Not your average teen heartthrob
Some other supremely talented, gorgeous opera singers:

• Who’s David Beckham compared to Uruguayan bass Erwin Schrott (seen above left)?

• Schrott’s wife is Anna Netrebko (annanetrebko.com) of Russia, today’s leading soprano.

• Evgeny Nikitin is a tattoo-covered Russian bass-baritone who also performs in a heavy-metal band.

• Lisette Aropresa is an American mezzo-soprano (and Vanessa Hudgens look-alike).

• Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni.

 
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