Who is Lise Davidsen? The Norwegian soprano’s voice type, background, albums and performances

7 September 2023, 15:51

Lise Davidsen sings Sibelius Var det en dröm

Classic FM

By Classic FM

She has been described as having “a voice in a million”. But who is the spectacular Norwegian soprano, Lise Davidsen? Here’s all you need to know.

Once in a while, a voice comes along that changes things.

It changes you as a person because you fall in love with the sound and hope to always hear it matched by other artists. It changes your perceptions of what is possible, and what is permissible, for voice. And it changes the music industry in that it raises bars, raises expectations and raises excitement levels in a room.

It’s fair to say that Norwegian operatic soprano, Lise Davidsen, has such a voice.

The Telegraph has called hers “a voice in a million”, and a quick google of “Lise Davidsen review” throws up more rave reviews than we can count.

Here’s everything you need to know about the soprano, from her recordings and roles so far, to her studies.

Read more: 20 of the greatest sopranos and mezzos of all time

Lise Davidsen, lyric dramatic soprano
Lise Davidsen, lyric dramatic soprano. Picture: Ray Burmiston / Decca

When and where was Lise Davidsen born?

Lise Davidsen is a Norwegian lyric soprano who grew up in the rural town of Stokke, Norway.

Born in 1987, Davidsen turned 36 years old in 2023.

She started singing when she was 15 and, although she at first favoured the guitar, and singing popular, jazz and soul genres, she soon realised the operatic potential of her voice.

Where did Lise Davidsen study music?

She completed her Bachelor’s degree at Grieg Academy of Music in Bergen, and has also graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Music and Opera Academy in Copenhagen.

Award wins at the Queen Sonja competition in Norway, and the Operalia (after which Financial Times called her the “real deal”) soon attracted attention.

Read more: Hear soprano Lise Davidsen go from top G sharp to a low B in one awesome phrase

Lise Davidsen speaks to Classic FM at the Gramophone Awards

What recordings has Lise Davidsen released?

The soprano released her debut recording – a gorgeous selection of Wagner and Strauss arias – in May 2019 and it went to No. 1 in the classical music chart.

She recorded the two composers’ music with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, and added: “I would like to thank Esa-Pekka, the musicians of the Philharmonia and everyone at Decca for being such great partners who have supported me at every moment. I look forward to this being the start of a wonderful long-term relationship with them.”

In 2021, Davidsen released her second album – a selection of arias and lieder by Beethoven, Wagner and Verdi – with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder.

The following year, the soprano joined forces with Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes for an album dedicated to the composer most closely associated with her homeland: Edvard Grieg.

In November 2023, Davidsen will release a festive album Christmas From Norway, a collection of traditional Norwegian Christmas music and classic festive favourites. Of the album, Davidsen said: “For Scandinavians, Christmas serves as a beacon of light in the midst of a lengthy winter. Perhaps that is why we embrace it so wholeheartedly.”

For opera recording buffs out there looking for a bit of trivia, Lise Davidsen is the first Scandi artist to sign with Decca Classics since Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005) and the first Norwegian singer to join the label since opera royalty Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962).

She has also appeared on recordings of Grieg, Frandsen and Scandinavian composers, including Kaija Saariaho and Per Nørgård, and most recently on the second album of British-Italian tenor, Freddie De Tommaso.

Read more: Who is Freddie De Tommaso? Everything you need to know about the young star tenor

Lise Davidsen performs at a Yellow Lounge concert in Berlin
Lise Davidsen performs at a Yellow Lounge concert in Berlin. Picture: Getty

What is Lise Davidsen’s voice type?

On her Instagram and website, Lise Davidsen calls herself a “lyric dramatic soprano”.

While “soprano” refers to her range (and the resulting roles she plays in opera), “lyric” and “dramatic” is a way of referring to the bright and rich timbre, and strength, of her voice, respectively.

Lyric dramatic sopranos are suitable for specific operatic roles, including by Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Strauss and other late 19th-century composers. Their voices contrast with those of coloratura sopranos, for example, whose voices are more suited to ornamental Baroque and Classical repertoire.

The sheer power of Davidsen’s voice, alongside her height and commanding stage presence – she is nearly nearly 6 foot 2 (1.88M), according to The Guardian – is often remarked on.

“She really is in sort of a world of her own,” said Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera. “This is a voice that seems to be miraculous in that it is unlike any voice that I’ve heard in my tenure at the Met. I really see her being kind of the vocal flagship of the Met in the decades to come.”

What performances does Lise Davidsen have coming up?

Lise has upcoming appearances in concerts and operas across the US and Europe in 2023-24.

Visit lisedavidsen.com/calendar to find out about Lise’s upcoming concert and opera dates.