Great Voice Loves Small Talk

What London-based soprano Danae Eleni misses and appreciates when she visits Berlin

This blog continues its series of profiles of young American, Canadian, and British singers who visit or live in Germany to sing. Their answers to a small set of questions show what it takes to pursue the career of their dreams. London-based soprano and educator Danae Eleni travels throughout the world to sing and perform, but likes to return to the Berlin area for recitals and inspiration.

Photo: Maximilian Van London

From where?
Born in Bahrain to Greek and English parents. (Bahraini-born Anglo-Greek Soprano)

Your Fach?
Lyric Soprano

Your favorite role:
I have so many… Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro); but in German repertoire I love Pamina, and Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier); Anne Trulove in English… I also love creating roles with/for composers…

Your hero in opera:
Anne Trulove – she follows her heart.

Your recent performance:
Song cycle “The Gift of Life” by Chet Biscardi, for the Sarah Lawrence Programme at Oxford University.

Your recent performance in Germany, Austria or Switzerland:
Recital of Summer Songs in Jüterbog*; and a recital tour of solos for soprano and organ in Berlin and Brandenburg.

The biggest challenge in singing German opera or Lieder:
Remembering not to over darken the second schwa sound.

Photo: Fabien Chareix

A thing or habit of Germans you find funny:
Love how “to-the-point” conversations can be, without the need for small talk.

A thing or habit of Germans you find annoying:
Sometimes I miss the small talk…

A story in which you were glad that you spoke German:
My train was delayed from Hannover to Köln, so I missed the last connection to Brussels. I think that being able to speak some German (through tears), helped me negotiate the (free) overnight taxi from Aachen straight to my digs. Deutsche Bahn’s customer service is amazing!

Your next project or performance, and where:
Poulenc’s “Gloria” at LSO St Luke’s in London, then Sophie excerpts from “Der Rosenkavalier” with Fulham Opera.
(More info here:

Your favorite quality in a singer:
The ability to be completely in the character of a song or role as soon as they enter the stage. I love singers who have a variety of colours in their pianissimi also, they can be used to heartbreaking effect.

Your favorite German words:
außergewöhnlich, relativ.

* Jüterbog is a historic village, around 70 kilometers from Berlin. [AIF]

Watch and listen to Danae Eleni’s performance of Franz Lehar’s “Warum hast du mich wachgeküsst?” accompanied by Naomi Woo; Recorded by Svanholm Productions in London 2016

Find more information about Danae Eleni at:
twitter: @danaeeleni

Listen to her audio recordings at:



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Bernd Hendricks. Born in Duisburg, Germany. Based in Berlin. Writer, German Language Educator. I was six years old when I went to the opera for the first time. My Grandma took me to Hänsel und Gretel at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Duisburg. The first time I met an opera singer personally was during my time as foreign correspondent in New York when at a Christmas party a baritone pelted me with questions about the language of Zauberflöte. He was preparing for his role as Papageno. After my return to Berlin in September 2010, I have been giving German lessons to singers on their audition tours. My workshops in Berlin, Vienna, and London are based on my widely read book Ach, ich fühl’s—German for Opera Singers in Three Acts: Studying, Speaking, Singing. My latest book, Die Frist ist um—Navigate the Language of 10 German Operas, takes you on a journey through the language of the most popular and often performed operas in the German-speaking countries. I am also the author of several non-fiction books and two novels.

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