Damrau was born in 1971 in Günzburg, Bavaria, Germany, and began her operatic studies with Carmen Hanganu (de) at the Hochschule für Musik Würzburg. After graduating from music conservatory she worked in Salzburg with Hanna Ludwig (de). Her first operatic engagements were in Würzburg and subsequently the National Theatre Mannheim and Oper Frankfurt. Since then, she has sung throughout the world at venues such as the Vienna State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Royal Opera House London, the Bavarian State Opera and the Salzburg Festival. She was invited to sing the title role in Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta at the re-opening of La Scala, Milan in 2004, under the baton of Riccardo Muti.
The Queen of the Night from Mozart's The Magic Flute has been Damrau's most frequently performed role to date, as she has been engaged to perform it in over 15 productions at houses including Covent Garden, the Salzburg Festival, the Vienna State Opera, Oper Frankfurt and the Bavarian State Opera. Damrau made Metropolitan Opera history in the 2007/08 season by appearing as both Pamina and Queen of the Night in different performances of the same run. Another notable engagement was her portrayal of all four heroines in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann in a new production at the Bavarian State Opera in October 2011. Other coloratura roles in her repertoire include Zerbinetta, Lucia, Elvira, Rosina, Gilda, Adina,[disambiguation needed] Marie, Linda and Aminta. She also performs roles in the lyric repertoire including Manon, Donna Anna, Gretel and Pamina.
Damrau has furthered her exploration of the bel canto repertoire in recent years with highlights including new productions of Rossini's comic opera Le comte Ory at the Metropolitan Opera and the title role in Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix at the Liceu, Barcelona. She has since returned to the Metropolitan Opera as both Adina and Rosina and brought her portrayal of Donizetti's Lucia to Berlin and Vienna. Following the birth of her second child in autumn 2012, Damrau returned to the stage with a new production of Verdi's Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera in February 2013; this is to be followed by her role debut in the title role of Verdi's La traviata in the same house. Later in the year she will create the title role in the world premiere of A Harlot's Progress, an opera written for her by young British composer Iain Bell based on the etchings of William Hogarth, at Vienna's Theater an der Wien. In March 2014, back in New York, she stars in La sonnambula.
As well as performing in operas, Damrau is a regular on the concert stage. She has performed Lieder repertoire at Vienna's Musikverein, at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, La Scala, the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg, Austria, and both the Munich and Salzburg Festivals. Her concert repertoire includes Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, Mozart's Great Mass in C minor, Requiem and Exsultate, jubilate as well as Handel's Messiah. She has performed with such esteemed conductors as James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Leonard Slatkin, Pierre Boulez, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Jesús López-Cobos.
Damrau is married to French bass-baritone Nicolas Testé. They have two sons, born in 2010 and 2012.
- La Scala: Europa riconosciuta* (Europa), The Marriage of Figaro (Susanna), La traviata* (Violetta)
- Metropolitan Opera: La traviata (Violetta), The Magic Flute (Queen of the Night and Pamina), Ariadne auf Naxos (Zerbinetta), Il barbiere di Siviglia* (Rosina), Die ägyptische Helena* (Aithra), Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Konstanze), Lucia di Lammermoor (Lucia), Rigoletto* (Gilda), La fille du régiment (Marie), Le comte Ory* (Adèle), L'elisir d'amore (Adina)
- The Royal Opera: The Magic Flute* (Queen of the Night), Arabella* (Fiakermilli), Ariadne auf Naxos (Zerbinetta), 1984* (Gym Instructor / Drunken Woman), Hänsel und Gretel* (Gretel), L'elisir d'amore (Adina)
- Vienna State Opera: Die Fledermaus (Adele), Rigoletto (Gilda), Ariadne auf Naxos (Zerbinetta), Der Riese vom Steinfeld* by Cerha (Small Woman), The Marriage of Figaro (Susanna), Die Entführung aus dem Serail* (Konstanze), The Magic Flute (Queen of the Night), Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina), Manon (Manon), Lucia di Lammermoor (Lucia)
- Salzburg Festival: Die Entführung aus dem Serail* (Blondchen / Konstanze), Ascanio in Alba* (Fauno), The Magic Flute* (Queen of the Night), The Marriage of Figaro (Susanna)
- Bavarian State Opera, Munich: Les contes d'Hoffmann* (Olympia/Antonia/Giulietta/Stella), Die schweigsame Frau* (Aminta), The Magic Flute (Queen of the Night), Die Entführung aus dem Serail* (Konstanze), Arabella (Zdenka), Ariadne auf Naxos*(Zerbinetta), Rigoletto* (Gilda), The Marriage of Figaro (Susanna), Der Rosenkavalier (Sophie), Fidelio (Marzelline), Der Freischütz (Ännchen), Die Fledermaus (Adele)
NB: * indicates a new production of the piece
Early recordings include Verdi's canzoni, Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn, and Schumann's Myrthen, Op. 25, with the Telos label and live recordings of her summer 2005 Liederabend at the Salzburg Festival and her summer 2006 Liederabend at the Schubertiade are released on the Orfeo label.
Damrau also appears on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi's release of Mozart's Zaide in the title role, and performs alongside Adrianne Pieczonka on mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča's first solo release with Deutsche Grammophon; together, they perform the trio finale from Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier.
Since 2007 Damrau has had an exclusive recording contract with EMI/Virgin.
- Arie di Bravura, her first release (2007) was a recital of Mozart, Righini and Salieri arias with Le Cercle de l'Harmonie, conducted by Jérémie Rhorer.
- Donna: Opera and Concert Arias by Mozart (November 2008) is a collection of Mozart opera and concert arias and is a return collaboration with Rhorer and Le Cercle de l'Harmonie.
- Coloraturas (November 2009) is a collection of arias with which the soprano is most closely associated and features the Munich Radio Orchestra conducted by Dan Ettinger.
- Poesie: Richard Strauss Lieder (January 2011) is a collection of Richard Strauss' orchestral songs recorded with the Munich Philharmonic under the baton of Christian Thielemann.
- Liszt Lieder (October 2011) is a collection of classical songs by Liszt, accompanied by pianist Helmut Deutsch.
- Forever (2013) is a collection of operetta and musical theatre numbers recorded with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Charles Abell
DVDs are available of her performances in the following operas:
- Rossini's Le comte Ory (Metropolitan Opera)
- Verdi's Rigoletto (Semperoper Dresden, Metropolitan Opera)
- Strauss's Rosenkavalier (Baden Baden)
- Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel (Covent Garden)
- Mozart's The Magic Flute (Covent Garden, Salzburg Festival)
- Mozart's Ascanio in Alba (Salzburg Festival)
- Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Oper Frankfurt)
- Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Liceu)
- Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (La Scala)
- Lorin Maazel's 1984 (Covent Garden)
Honours and awards
- 1999: Prizewinner at the 7th International Mozart Competition, Salzburg
- 1999: Voted "Young Singer of the Year" in a critics' survey in the magazine Opernwelt
- 2004: Recipient of the "Star of the Year" by the Munich Abendzeitung
- 2005: Recipient of the "Rose of the Year" by the Munich Tageszeitung (tz)
- 2006: Performed alongside Plácido Domingo at the Three Orchestras Gala in Munich to mark the opening of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany
- 2006: Named "Bavarian of the Year" by the Bayerischer Rundfunk
- 2007: Awarded the EON prize for culture
- 2007: Awarded title of Bayerische Kammersängerin
- 2007: Featured on the cover of both March 2007 edition of Opera News and May 2007 edition of Opera
- 2008: Named "Singer of the Year 2008" by the magazine Opernwelt, appearing on the cover of the magazine's 2008 yearbook
- 2008: Awarded the German Record Critics' Award ("Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik") for her album Arie di Bravura
- 2010: Awarded the Bayerischer Maximiliansorden – the highest recognition awarded by the State of Bavaria for artistic merit. The number of living holders of the award is limited to 100.
- 2011: Awarded the Echo Klassik Award for her album Poesie
- Diana Damrau official website
- "In einer Reihe mit den ganz Großen" by (kih), Augsburger Allgemeine (2 November 2010) (German)
- Diana Damrau: schedule at Operabase
- Diana Damrau at the Internet Movie Database