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An opera singer confronts her body shape

January 8, 2018 by norman lebrecht

24 comments.


Danika Lorèn, a member of Canadian Opera Company, has gone naked for a Toronto magazine to confront the misperceptions she encounters as an opera singer.

Danika writes:

I remember the day I saw the call on Instagram about taking part in this feature. I was feeling very frustrated by the body image attitudes being projected onto many of my peers in opera. So doing this was in some respect an act of rebellion. 

In opera, our body is our instrument. It’s hard not to be hyper-critical of every element you’re putting out there.

I think opera is trying to keep up with other entertainment industries in being hyper-focused on the body and putting forth a certain kind of look. Hopefully the music and the voice still come first. But it’s competitive, so it’s easy to start obsessing about the way you look….

Read on here.

photo (c) Samuel Engelking

UPDATE: In a second interview, with COC News, Danika says, ‘I wanted to put all of my power into a picture.’


Comments (24)

  1. John Borstlap says:

    Rubens often went to the opera, he found it greatly uplifting, although he let the lifting be executed by others:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_the_Daughters_of_Leucippus#/media/File:Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_The_Rape_of_the_Daughters_of_Leucippus.jpg

    1. Una says:

      Ha, ha! Reminds of a certain Turandot of our time at Covent Garden I went to, and the whole chorus had to lift her up on chariot around the stage at the beginning!!!

      One’s health as a singer should be far more important than being the singer. The days of ‘parking and barking’ are over in the professional world of most opera and indeed in the concert world, but it doesn’t mean you have to be super-thin, just agile and keep weight off your knees and joints, and not eat stodge all the time and drink too much. Then be the person you are. But there is a big difference between Europe and America over this as to what is a normal, healthy and acceptable weight for anyone.

      1. Scotty says:

        She’s not American.

        1. Andrew T says:

          I believe that “America” implies North America.

          1. Scotty says:

            To whom? Americans believe America means the USA. South Americans believe America means North and South America. Canadians believe Canada means Canada and America means someplace else. Everyone accepts that North America means North America.

            But more to Una’s point, Canada is well behind the United States in the obesity rate and is in a virtual tie with such EU countries as Finland, Germany, and Luxembourg. Canada’s obesity rate is lower than the UK’s.

        2. Andrew T says:

          I absolutely agree with you that America can mean different things depending upon context. My assumption in this case (and it may be wrong), was that a British person comparing Europe (the continent) and America would be thinking in terms of North America. To be clear, I am a Canadian and fiercely proud of our distinctive identity, but the poster appeared to be talking generally about continents. If not, then we need to be equally respectful of not lumping all of the European countries together.

          1. Scotty says:

            Maybe Una did mean to compare attitudes toward obesity in North America as a whole and Europe as a whole. I made my clarification because the obesity rate in Canada, where the singer is from and lives, are not the same as for the States, where I’m from.

  2. Sue says:

    This woman was sacked from the Australian Opera because of her weight. She died in 2001 at 67.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZbug54k3nM

    I remember seeing her in “Aida” years ago and the audience audibly gasped when she walked on stage as the eponymous waif of the opera.

      1. Glenn Amer says:

        I was Rita’s accompanist towards the end of her career. It was so lovely to read these reminiscences. Thanks for posting!

        1. Sue says:

          I’m sure she was a pleasant enough woman, but people have a responsibility control their weight and excesses if they want a theatrical/musical career. However, I hasten to add; it didn’t seem to harm Pavarotti – but I could be wrong.

          1. George Porter says:

            I’ve no idea if she was a pleasant enough woman, but in her heyday she was a great singer.

    1. Bruce says:

      OMG, she is TOTALLY JUST AS FAT AS RITA HUNTER!

      https://www.danikalorensoprano.com/?lightbox=dataItem-j13jfhgo5

      /eyeroll

      1. Sue says:

        Not even close!!!

        1. Bruce says:

          Yes – hence the eyeroll.

          1. Sue says:

            Doah! I get it. The New Year hasn’t dawned on me yet.

  3. urania says:

    I do think that she is just looking for headlines. She is more or less looking fine – cant judge her singing from this short video.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjJT60e36DY

    1. Dennis says:

      “More or less looking fine?”

      Some things are better left clothed.

      1. Respect says:

        How ungracious. I tghink she looks lovely.

  4. Steve P says:

    I guess it’s over

    1. RW2013 says:

      unless someone is looking for a Salome.

  5. Mike says:

    I’ve heard her sing at the COC many times, she’s the real deal. A superstar in the making. so I think this is pretty brave being that she’s aware that she’s not model skinny.

    1. Martain Smith says:

      Such a shame Deborah Voigt bowed to the 2004 Covent Garden cocktail dress demands!
      Anyone who knows her singing pre-and-post OP can only bemoan the results of her transformation.

      Countless beanstalks can wear a silly black dress – but in the 90’s arguable no known soprano had the vocal stamina, substance, and quality of Ms. Voigt – and who could deny her beautiful facial features!

      Why didn’t the Director don the garment himself and let the soprano sing from the pit!


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