Bavarian-born Diana Damrau’s most performed role, The Queen of the Night from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, was initially composed for a ‘flawed’ voice. Registering several octaves above typical arias, it is dreaded by most sopranos, making it an interesting selection for a repeat. The word ‘opera’ in Italian translates very neatly as ‘work’ in English and it is clear Damrau takes that elucidation seriously, rendering it unsurprising that Damrau would not shy away from her opus. Gone are the days of prima donnas stoically arranged in ballet’s third position, belting out the third act of La Traviata while a harem of rich patrons twist uncomfortably on velvet thrones; this coloratura soprano attacks her roles with an agility reserved for roe deer in the throws of a robust hunting season. She’s since retired the vengeance aria, and though atypical, of most Night Queens, she continues to sustain a vigorous career in its absence. With a current repertoire rivaling the length of Der Ring des Nibelungen as well as a debut in Iain Bell’s original A Harlot’s Progress as Moll Hackabout at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien during the 2013/2014 season, Damrau continues to reign Queen.
Diana Damrau, photographed by David LaChapelle, for the portrait gallery of the Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) in Munich, Germany.