Cher Public


Talkative divette Danielle de Niese helpfully explains that Miley Cyrus uses her sexuality for the wrong reasons, whereas when, she, de Niese shimmies across the stage of the Bayerische Staastoper in an animal-print leotard, that’s “artistic integrity.”

  • de Niese has good body.

    I disagree with her opinion. I don’t think Cyrus uses her sexuality in a wrong way. It’s obvious she wants to kill her previous image and it’s probably good for the money, I don’t see why that would be wrong.

    De Niese uses her sexuality for a wild character, but the same could be said for Miley. In the end it’s all an act right. She dances half naked with little people, sticking her tongue out.

    Well whatever, I don’t like Miley’s style, but I wouldn’t call it wrong.

    • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

      Agree completely regarding the Cyrus change of image and it has certainly registered with the public far above and beyond what went before.

      All the same, I am reminded of Mad magazine’s take on Grease. Sandy rocks up in the final scene all cigarette smoke and skin-tight black leather, causing Danny to exclaim: “WOW!!! Sandy! Two panels ago you were a dull, bland virgin! Now, you’re a -- dull, bland slut…”

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Honestly. It’s skin tight black lycra, not leather. There is a qualitative difference.

    • antikitschychick

      Agreed Spen. DDN is posturing. She uses her sexuality for the same reasons Miley does: its advantageous (i.e. good for business). No one is forcing her to wear the leotard, but she does it freely because she knows she’ll look good in it and that’s fine. It takes hard work and sacrifice to be fit and there’s no shame in flaunting that but what I’m not ok with is criticizing another woman for doing much of the same thing you are, but then using Opera as a scapegoat. True, Miley’s antics are more self-serving, but the idea that she is doing it solely or mostly to rid herself of the Hannah Montana image is an assumption that has not been substantiated. We don’t really know if that’s the real reason. Personally I just think she did it to get more famous and sell records, which is something she would have done regardless of the shell of her past Disney image or what have you. It just might not have been as shocking but it could have still been effective, much as it is for Beyonce and JLo.

      The only real difference is that, with pop music now a days, shock value and the celebrity culture have unfortunately taken over and the music becomes, not even secondary but tertiary to making money and creating a global name brand for yourself, which is happily not the case in Opera because the performers do serve the music in most, though not all cases. But you might say that Anna Netrebko and Placido Domingo are established brands within the Opera world, but they have worked hard to get to where they are. It didn’t happen overnight like it did with Miley.

      Lastly, Miley has real talent so as much as I largely agree with the concerns addressed in Sinead O’connor’s open to letter to her (see here:,

      as a woman myself, I still cant bring myself to bash her publicly in the way DDN is doing. Her behavior does set a certain precedent in terms of sexual agency that can have largely negative for women in the music industry but, I mean that is something that has been going on anyway because the music industry is largely run by a group of middle-aged men. So we’re fucked either way lol.

      For those that are not familiar with Miley, here is something I think is more interesting than all the talk about image and sexuality:

      She said in an interview with Barbara Walters that she is going to work on an acoustic album. It bet its going to be good :-P oh and I think I read somewhere that she is part Cherokee (Native American). That’s interesting too, to me at least lol.

      • Lobby

        “No one is forcing her to wear the leotard”. David Alden’s production of La Calisto has been around since 2005 and has been revived regularly in Munich since then, usually with Sally Matthews in the leopard print leotard. As this is part of the costuming for this production, she either had to wear the leotard, or not appear in this production.

        • antikitschychick

          I get what you’re saying Lobby but we don’t know that for sure. We don’t know the intimate details and the conversations that transpired between the director and the cast members. It could be that Alden was willing to compromise on the costume but the performers never asked him to do so, or it could be as you say. SO we can’t really say for certainty that the costume was a deal breaker as was the case with Debbie Voight and the little black dress situation at ROH, for example.

          DDN is making certain assumptions about Miley’s motivations for expressing herself in a sexually provocative manner and the truth is we don’t know for sure what the underlying factor(s) were/are. We can make certain deductions but we shouldn’t make dismissive and ultimately derogatory remarks based on a postured assumption. For all we know the underlying reasons could be the same for both ladies.

          Also, not appearing in a production is not the same as having your career in jeopardy. For all we know Miley’s record label could have told her that her career depended on her re-inventing her image. Im not saying this justifies her actions (and I do think she had more say in the matter) but they are things we should be taking into consideration imo.

          • armerjacquino

            I find it odd that someone should be criticised, even by implication, for wearing the costume of the production she’s been cast in.

            • Clita del Toro

              I don’t think it’s the costume so much as the singer, who appears to be doing the same, sexy schtick whenever and wherever she has a chance. So what else is new?

            • armerjacquino

              You don’t think Calisto or Cleopatra should be sexy?

            • Buster

              Nadja Michael is routinely criticized here for her flimsy garments.

            • armerjacquino

              Yes, true. And that’s odd, because there are so many better reasons…

            • Grane

              There’s a difference between sexy and “sexy shtick.” Presumably an actor of DDN’s exquisite beauty and artistic integrity could convey the character’s sexuality in a tasteful Grecian gown. The decision to trick La Calisto out like a Playboy bunny--er, leopard--would appear to have been made for other reasons, whoever is playing her. Danni does indeed have a great bod, so why not. But it’s a bit much when she starts claiming the artistic high ground.

            • antikitschychick

              I find it odd as well. Nowhere am I criticizing DDN for wearing the costume of the production she is in. As I stated above, I find nothing wrong with her flaunting her sexuality as it takes work to stay fit, and if the character calls for it, more power to her. What I am criticizing is that she is criticizing another performer who is doing much of the same thing( i.e. putting on a persona, and flaunting her sexuality, albeit in a more heightened fashion and not as part of a collective work) the underlying reasons for which, might be the same, even though she says she is “firmly rooted in the character”. That is her opinion based on her specific interpretation of the character. It doesn’t mean rolling around on the floor is an essential component of the character. Again, she is using the fact that she (DDN) is an “actor” as a scapegoat to get away with whatever she deems fit. Having popetic license doesn’t always equate with artistic integrity. Moreover, her intentions could be just as self-serving as Miley’s, and that’s ok, but then she needn’t put down Miley or anyone else for it and hold herself in high regard because she is “an actor”. I’m not suggesting that their motivations are unquestionably the same, and I have absolutely nothing against her as a person or as a performer, but I’m saying it is a possibility that the underlying motivations are indeed the same and so the posturing on her part seems a bit hypocritical to me.

            • Grane

              Also looks pretty funny right over the photo of the chicken-leg cassoulet!

            • antikitschychick

              UGH, wrote popetic instead of *poetic. Sorry :-P.

            • armerjacquino


              ““I have different reactions based on the way it is presented,” she said. “It’s tough [for Cyrus] because you have someone who’s desperately trying to artistically express herself and break free from the shell of her previous image that was curated for her by Disney when she was Hannah Montana.

              “To break free from that she’s felt that she needed to really go in the other direction.”

              Not wildly critical really, is it?

            • armerjacquino

              “Presumably an actor of DDN’s exquisite beauty and artistic integrity could convey the character’s sexuality in a tasteful Grecian gown.”

              Yes, she could, if that were the production she were in. But she’s in this one where, since 2005, various singers have worn the costume she’s wearing.

              ‘Blame the performer wherever possible for everything’ is such a tedious trope.

            • Grane

              I did include a disclaimer to that effect in my comment, amer. I am not “blaming” Miss de Niese for wearing the costume that goes along with the production. Only saying that in invoking her high standards of artistic integrity, she is asking for an eye-roll.

            • manou

              I’m crushed -- I thought “popetic” was yet another colourful demotic word that I might add to my vocabulary. Let down by the precious Urban Dictionary, I solidered on and found this stupendous piece of doggerel:


              which I offer up to the cognoscenti.

            • armerjacquino

              Grane- yes, I should have made it clearer that I wasn’t aiming that specifically at you. De Niese comes in for particular heat, though, for doing Rosemary Joshua’s dances and now wearing Sally Matthews’ leotard, which doesn’t seem altogether fair, especially as she didn’t really ‘criticise’ Cyrus over much in the first place.

            • oedipe

              Popetic (or popectic):

            • Grane

              There’s an apt Monty Python clip in which one of them dressed as a banker says, “Full frontal nudity? Yes, I’d do it, if it was valid.” :)

            • antikitschychick

              not wildly critical no, armer, but to say that Miley Cyrus is not only “desperate” but also acting the way she is “for the wrong reasons” certainly qualifies as criticism imo.

            • antikitschychick

              LOL sorry to disappoint you manou. I’ll try and add more pop-culture flair in my next post for ya :-P.

            • armerjacquino

              ‘For the wrong reasons’ is journalistic interpretation, not a quote. Take that away and there really isn’t anything.

      • armerjacquino

        Before rushing to judgement, is it not worth asking if De Niese was asked about Cyrus or if she volunteered the opinion. It makes a difference, I think, and I don’t know the answer as the original interview in the Times is firewalled.

        So often people in the public eye are criticised for shooting their mouth off about something, and it turns out that a savvy journalist put them on the spot in the course of an unrelated interview.

        • MontyNostry

          Here’s the probing and brave piece of journalism from The Times (more like the Mail every day).


          Classical music is increasingly borrowing the tactics of the pop music industry by presenting its artists in a sexualised way, a leading soprano has suggested.

          Danielle de Niese, who is appearing in La Calisto at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, said that her appearance on stage in a leopard-print leotard was an example of the way that opera was encouraging performers to embrace their sexuality.

          She said that it was vital for artists to ensure that they were comfortable with the way they allowed themselves to be portrayed if they were to avoid the kind of exploitation rife in pop music. The recent appearance of Miley Cyrus performing a provocative dance at the MTV Music Video Awards was an example of a singer using her sexuality for the wrong reasons, she said.

          “I have different reactions based on the way it is presented,” she said. “It’s tough [for Cyrus] because you have someone who’s desperately trying to artistically express herself and break free from the shell of her previous image that was curated for her by Disney when she was Hannah Montana.

          “To break free from that she’s felt that she needed to really go in the other direction. When I grew up, Madonna was rebelling. When I was a kid watching that, it felt real to me because she was saying: ‘This is who I am, and this is what I feel.’ Some of the ways in which people are doing things — it feels like a Madonna repeat.

          “When people are asked, how do you feel about the way that people are talking about you, their responses are interesting. If they say: ‘The important thing is that people are talking about it’, then that is artificial.”

          She said that artists such as Beyoncé showed how sexuality could be more than mere provocation. “I really respect and admire Beyoncé for the way in which she embraces her sexuality without using it as the main thing that she’s selling. She dresses sexily without being crass or rude about it. She really does embrace feminine strength and sensitivity. I wouldn’t want it to be about female empowerment without that sensitivity.”

          De Niese’s remarks come after Nicola Benedetti, the violinist who won awards for Best Female Artist at the Classical Brits two years running, said that she received requests for provocative photo shoots but they were given short shrift “because [my team] know there’s no discussion”. She told the BBC’s Desert Island Discs radio programme: “There’s not even a point in asking me.”

          De Niese, who has performed at the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne, and who is married to Gus Christie, Glyndebourne’s owner, said that her appearance in La Calisto was different because she was portraying a wild character. “When it comes to myself, I am an actor — I am somebody who uses my face and body as a canvas to make a character come to life. The images that have come out — those are racy. Wearing a leotard on stage always makes you a little nervous. When I’m doing things like rolling all over the place, I’m firmly rooted in a character.”

          She would not be doing her next concert performance “in a mesh leotard” because it would be inapproriate. “I’d do it for artistic integrity, but I wouldn’t do it for the sake of it,” she said.

          Asked whether she felt that the music industry could be exploitative, she said: “Yes. We live in an age now when it’s not enough to like someone’s music. Everybody wants to get behind the curtain. People want things that are meant to give an insight into the person involved. So it’s important to be true to yourself.”

          She said that classical artists were increasingly being encouraged to put themselves across in a sexy way, but this did not make her uncomfortable. “Selling yourself is not necessarily sexualising yourself.”

          There was no need to play down one’s sexuality to prove a point, she said. “Never feel that you have to prove your inner worth by downplaying what God gave you. I don’t think that the classical world is going to get so distracted that they’re going to think that sex sells records, not the music.”

          • armerjacquino

            Ah, so the ‘did she offer it or was she asked’ question remains unanswered. It’s a much more nuanced, less crass statement than the Mail would have had us believe, of course.

          • Grane

            For a minute there I thought we might get through the discussion without the term “female empowerment” coming up. Alas…

          • turings

            She may have been asked about the publicity photos. ‘The images that have come out – those are racy’ looks a bit of a non-sequitur, but who knows. Her comments look fair enough to me – clearly she does need to emphasise that she’s a professional who is acting …

          • Ilka Saro

            I think of Herbert Breslin, Pavarotti’s promoter, who referred to publicity in the opera world as “tiddly snit”. Which is true. Opera is not unique in having marketing that claims to stand aloof from what is “popular”. Opera, along with some other arts, is endlessly packaged as something precious, which must be approached with reverence — a sort of chaste gushing over the “cultural richness and depth, sense of beauty” etc etc. We get pics of Renee Fleming looking dewy eyed. Every now and then we may get a pic of Dessay as a deranged Lucia, but not often.

            Opera can be as sexy as anything else. God know the operagoers aren’t nuns from a cloister (at least most of the aren’t). Breslin may have been obnoxious, and his marketing of Pavarotti wasn’t necessarily all that sexy, but I agree with his impatience with the simpering way that opera is generally marketed.

      • Clita del Toro

        Miley Cyrus’ problem is that she is ugly! Nice body, ugly face.

  • MontyNostry

    She is such a rent-a-mouth.

    • pobrediablo

      That sounds dirty.

  • Grane
  • la vociaccia

    An oversexed, leopard print clad Calisto sounds like my idea of hell. I know “should” is a dirty word but this just pisses me off. It’s not every day LA CALISTO is presented by a company as huge as BSO and it’s a shame it will become another DDN ‘look at me’ casualty

    • armerjacquino

      Is it a ‘look at me casualty’ when, as pointed out above, the production stars Sally Matthews, as it most often has?

    • Salome Where She Danced

      Get me that Frank Cavalli guy for our next awards show! Who’s his agent? He writes sexy music for hot babes like the Future “Lady Christie” to perform!

  • Ilka Saro

    Oy! Some people should avoid speaking. In the words of Mark Twain: “Let us draw a curtain of charity over the rest of the scene.”

    • Grane

      An excellent line!
      But what else can she say, really? She can hardly go around saying she’d rather do dignified productions of Norma or Tosca but sexpot soubrette roles are all she’s offered.

  • MontyNostry

    By the way, great headline La C! A Gesamtkunstwerk in its own right.

  • Clita del Toro

    OT: LOC: I just watched the LOC conference/announcement about their new Ring and The Passenger productions. Goerke (Brünnhilde) and Owens (Wotan) are the only two cast members announced thus far. I don’t remember who the production team is. I think they mentioned that the sets for the Ring would be by the same guy who did their new Parsifal.

  • Salome Where She Danced

    Wasn’t the Future “Lady Christie” also a showbiz moppet? But one without Miley’s success?

  • OpinionatedNeophyte

    I just don’t understand why Danielle would take inspiration from Miley, when there’s Beyoncé’s new album that is (among other things) a profound manifesto on the ability for “grown women” to merge their professional success, marriage, motherhood, and delight in raunchy sexuality.

    In casting herself in opposition to Cyrus, DeNiese reveals how much she has in common with the fauxtwirxtress. In that, her reference to Cyrus has hear reaching for the most banal popular culture reference possible. Oh Dancin’ Danielle. Just when I think I can move from loathing you to grudging respect you quickly reignite the flames on the side of my face.

    • armerjacquino

      Did you actually read the interview? She is glowing in her praise for Beyonce.

      • OpinionatedNeophyte

        Guilty as charged, I only read the headline. Dang it….now I have to reconsider her…..

  • pobrediablo

    You know the end is near when opera divas praise and compare themselves to a bunch of recording company puppets.

    • Krunoslav

      Well, in the case of some Looks 10 Voice 3 “divas”, that comparison is well justified.

  • shoegirl

    Surely the problem Cyrus is that her sexuality is presented as the toy of notorious misogynysts such as robin Thicke [sic]? Beyoncé doing it on her own is more empowering because she isn’t presented as being controlled and used.

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    I like Danielle de Niese -- her voice, her singing, her acting, her performing -- all of it. I think she could sell coals to Newcastle, as they say.