Lise Davidsen, The Big-Voiced Soprano With A Big Future : Deceptive Cadence The young, late-comer to opera is turning heads in the classical world with a powerful voice that can rocket over huge orchestras or pare down to a silvery thread.

Review

From Norway With Horsepower: Soprano Lise Davidsen Is Conquering Opera

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/980863482/981309975" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Opera fanatics go a little bit nuts when they hear a voice like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LISE DAVIDSEN: (Singing in non-English language).

CORNISH: That's Lise Davidsen, a young soprano from Norway with a big voice. Her new album includes music by Beethoven, Wagner and Verdi. And our reviewer, NPR's Tom Huizenga, has been basking in the sounds of an emerging star.

TOM HUIZENGA, BYLINE: Lise Davidsen's voice has been called one-in-a-million. It can soar like a rocket over enormous orchestras. And yet, in this Verdi aria, it can dial down to a gleaming strand of polished silver.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVIDSEN: (Singing in non-English language).

HUIZENGA: Not so long ago, Davidsen was a guitar-strumming, handball-playing kid from a rural town in Norway. It took her a while to discover opera. She was 20 before she saw her first stage production. Now only in her early 30s, Davidsen sings in places like New York's Metropolitan Opera and London's Covent Garden.

Her second album, simply titled "Beethoven, Wegner, Verdi," shows us where she's at today, but also hints at her destiny. And that points directly to Wagner.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WESENDONCK-LIEDER")

DAVIDSEN: (Singing in non-English language).

HUIZENGA: That's Davidsen singing a set of Wagner songs called "Wesendonck-Lieder." Opera mavens are always on the lookout for the next great Wagnerian soprano, and Davidsen's voice appears tailor-made for the mammoth Wagner roles like Isolde and Brunnhilde. Those will come in time, perhaps, but only if she's smart and doesn't try on roles that are too big too soon.

Wielding this super-charged instrument must be like driving a high-performance sports car. Davidsen can push from zero to 60 on a dime in terms of amplitude, but she knows how to control it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FIDELIO")

DAVIDSEN: (Singing in non-English language).

HUIZENGA: Davidsen, evoking the fearless title character in Beethoven's "Fidelio." But while she might be considered a specialist in the German repertoire - especially Richard Strauss and Wagner - this new album displays her appetite for Italian opera, including Pietro Mascagni's gritty thriller, "Cavalleria Rusticana."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVIDSEN: (Singing in non-English language).

HUIZENGA: Really big voices like Davidsen's can sometimes be steely and cold, but hers has heft and beauty. Recordings, alas, rarely do justice to the real thing. For instance, there are places on the album where Davidsen's voice is inexplicably too far back in the audio mix for my taste.

This really is the kind of voice you need to hear in person. Still, until we can all safely take our seats in the opera house, Lise Davidsen's album shows off a beautiful, formidable instrument, and a singer poised for the history books.

CORNISH: The album is "Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi" by Lise Davidsen, with Mark Elder leading the London Philharmonic. Our reviewer is NPR's Tom Huizenga.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVIDSEN: (Singing in non-English language).

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.