"Myself I shall adore," sings Danielle de Niese when she incarnates Handel's sexually voracious Semele. But this girl hardly needs to, so deafening is the chorus of approval in which she basks. The 29-year-old is the ultimate classical poster-girl, fought over by directors. She recently flourished as the Royal Opera's Galatea, and is about to be deployed to lethal effect by Glyndebourne later this month as the sexiest Cleopatra in living memory.
Of mixed Sri Lankan, Dutch and Scottish heritage, she dances as well as she acts, and looks great on film; Decca has just released her second record, of selected Mozart arias; and later this year, she will wed Glyndebourne's chairman Gus Christie, thus becoming the queen of that institution. Hot doesn't come hotter.
In conversation, her huge eyes, wide smile and sheer physicality are almost overpowering; what saves her from self-parody is the fact that she's a trouper, nurturing her still-developing voice, and properly grateful for her run of luck: talking about the show that launched her – David McVicar's acclaimed 2005 Glyndebourne production of Handel's Giulio Cesare – she still sounds surprised. "We were all aware of a buzz from the start," she says. "And when the show was brought to a halt for a mid-scene ovation, we knew we'd crashed a barrier."
But she isn't going to be allowed to rest on her laurels for this year's revival: "They are changing the moves, because they don't want us to be on autopilot." On the other hand, the huge 30lb dress she wears in the final scene will be the same: "They had to give me padding to prevent bruising to my hips... but it looks so incredible that, for 10 minutes, the suffering is worth it."
'Giulio Cesare' opens at Glyndebourne on 22 May. For details: www.glyndebourne.comReuse content