A young soprano says: My body can’t take it

A young soprano says: My body can’t take it


norman lebrecht

July 30, 2019

The French-Danish soprano Elsa Dreisig, 28, is one of the rising names on the opera scene. Winner of the 2015 Domingo Operalia and an ensemble member of Barenboim’s Berlin State Opera, she is in constant demand for jump-ins and tours.

Elsa has just cancelled the last three events of her season with a candid confession:

I am very sorry to announce I will be canceling my last 3 concerts in this “crazy” (but amazing!) year. I was really looking forward to coming to Denmark, my home, but I just can’t. Neither my voice, my body or my mind have the power. It has just been too much, and sometimes you need to make difficult choices in your life. This was one of them and I truly hope that I will make my “revanche” soon, and come to Denmark and sing for you. I love this country so much and I am grateful for all your support. I will not let you down 🌸 I wish you all a beautiful summer, and see you next season. Thank you for your trust and support. Your Elsa 

It’s tough out there.



  • Anthony Michaels-Moore says:

    Alexia Cousin, anyone?? Similar age, similar voice type, crashed and burned before the age of 30. Saying no can be difficult, but to have a long career, it’s one of the most important words to use!

    • Nik says:

      Fiamma Izzo d’Amico. Pushed to destruction by Karajan, retired in her early 30s. Now working as a voiceover/dubbing artist.

      • Bruce says:

        “Pushed to destruction by Karajan”

        One of many young singers 🙁

      • Novagerio says:

        Nik: “Pushed to destruction by Karajan” (??) – I think the problem was that there were no other Karajans who could guide her skillfully and make her then glorious lyrical voice soar above a noisy provincial orchestra…(!!)

    • John Rook says:

      I think it was 25. I remember seeing her on French TV singing ‘Dich, teure Halle’ at the age of 20 and being lauded to the skies as the future of the new French Wagnerian school. I predicted she’d be stop within five years and was saddened to be proved right. Elsa made a fool of herself on French TV when she won a prize a few years back, an appearance far from forgotten in her semi-homeland. Her mother was a decent enough singer, for what that’s worth.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Very honest and very sensible. Performers can be under huge pressure and drive themselves into the ground. She clearly wants to avoid this.

  • Cantantelirico says:

    Wisdom and courage in one so young is indeed rare. Sing long and prosper!!

  • Una says:

    Very wise decision from just getting used.

  • Bruce says:

    There are illustrious footsteps she is following. These are all sopranos who kept singing wonderfully into their 60s.

    At a master class, Frederica von Stade told the audience how Kiri te Kanawa would simply refuse to sing any louder — “I’m so sorry maestro, I just don’t have any more” — and that’s why, or partly why, she managed to sound so good for so long.

    I remember reading an interview with Leontyne Price where she said “I looked into those mesmerizing blue eyes [Karajan’s], that nobody ever said no to, and I told him NO to Salome.”

    Mirella Freni refused to sing the role of Butterfly onstage because it’s too wearing on the voice.

    I’m sure there are many others too; the list of promising singers who flamed out young is very long (Elena Souliotis, anyone?), but we don’t always think about the ones who last.

  • Robert Groen says:

    Elena Souliotis…..gave everything she had in a few short years and then could give no more. Didn’t stop her from soldiering on, but too many grueling roles early on in her career shredded what was possibly one of the best voices ever. Her Abigaille curdled the blood. Had she had the wisdom of Ms Dreisig, she might well have stunned audiences for a lot longer….