Jessye Norman's guide to the singer's life

The award-winning, acclaimed singer has wowed audiences all over the world, especially in performances of the music of Wagner, Richard Strauss and Mozart. Here she gives Classic FM rare insights into her career and her art.

Jessye Norman singer opera soprano mezzo American

1. Practice deep breathing
Jessye Norman has performed in major opera houses and concert halls around the world. So what does she do to prepare before she goes on stage to calm her nerves? "I do a lot of deep breathing which would relax anyone - just try it," she says.


Jessye Norman on preparing for performance

How does the opera star get ready before appearing on stage?


2. Lady of the Rings
Norman is one of the greatest Wagnerian sopranos of recent decades but is there a role she particularly loves? "Sieglinde," she says. "For me she is certainly the most feminine of the ladies who appear in the Ring Cycle and I love this role." 


Jessye Norman on her favourite Wagner role

Which Wagner heroine has Jessye Norman most relished playing?


3 Her finest hour
After such an illustrious career, what would Jessye Norman consider to be her finest achievement? She's reluctant to be drawn on the matter. "I'm still growing," she says. 


Jessye Norman on her greatest achievement

Which of her achievements does Jessye Norman value the most?


4 Why Richard Strauss?
Acclaimed for her magnificent performance of Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs, Jessye Norman says the composer "wrote so beautifully particularly for the female voice."


Jessye Norman on Richard Strauss

Why Strauss's music is so beloved by Jessye Norman and other singers


5 A word of advice
As a committed promoter of music education, what advice does Jessye Norman have to aspiring musicians?
"We must work and prepare and be willing to enjoy the preparation process," she says.


Jessye Norman's advice for young singers

On Charlotte Green's Culture Club, opera legend Jessye Norman gives advice to aspiring young opera singers.



Beethoven String Quartet manuscript Classical Music News

From the most expensive manuscripts to the greatest artist interviews, find out the latest music news first here.

What's on from 6am-8pm

From More Music Breakfast at 6am through to Classic FM Drive at 5pm, we play a mix of feel-good classics and upbeat favourites providing the perfect soundtrack to your day.