Spotlight on: Danielle MacMillan

Spotlight on: Danielle MacMillan

Veronika Roux

I first met mezzo-soprano Danielle MacMillan during the Canadian Opera Company's 2013 production of Peter Grimes, where she was one of the sassy Nieces keeping the Boar Pub interesting. Versatile like all good mezzos, Danielle is also preparing to sing Cherubino at Highlands Opera Studio's production of Le nozze di Figaro, this August/September. Danielle talks about staying well-rounded, and how "I just don't want to do anything else.

1. Why do you sing, and why are you pursuing it professionally?

The first thought that came to my mind was Lauryn Hill singing 'His Eye is on the Sparrow' in Sister Act...'I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free...'

I just don't want to do anything else. I just can't picture myself being anything other than a performer.

2. What does "good singing" mean to you? What does it feel like when you achieve it?

When my whole body gets goosebumps that's when I know I'm singing well and with everything I've got. It can be pretty overwhelming, but the goal, come showtime, is to have the tears that you've shed in the studio come from the audience instead.

3. What do young singers need to do more of? What should they do less of?

Do more non-musical activities, like get your heart broken and travel to a place where opera will never take you, with the hope that it'll inspire your creativity and feed your musical soul.

4. Do you have a "bucket-list" role that you'd like to sing? Why?

Giovanna (Jane) Seymour from Anna Bolena by Donizetti. I'd like to think that singing this role would feel like riding alongside Mario Andretti; or trying to keep up with him at least.

5. How do you explain your job to non-music folks?

I'm very honest. When people ask about preparation I'll talk about the memorization, and that it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm actually singing out loud for hours. I can whisper the words, or mark in my beats, or translate the words, or plunk notes out at the piano. I'll also have lessons and coachings with my teachers, and pep talks with my mentors for guidance.

Most people love hearing about where opera can take you, or how I keep my voice protected. I usually mention the amount of lemon water that I drink. I also talk about how fun it is, and that we get to wear different wigs and costumes, and sing and work with amazing musicians and artists alike from around the world.

How fortunate are we?

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Written by

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna is the editor and co-creator of Schmopera.com. She's also a pianist, vocal coach, and répétiteur, and working with singers is how she fell in love with opera. Her favourite operas include Peter Grimes, Ariadne auf Naxos, Tristan und Isolde, Written on Skin, and Anna Nicole.

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