At the London launch of BBC Two’s new opera LaVoix Humaine, she is politely mobbed by celebrity friends – including Bruno Tonioli and Gareth Malone – fans, family and crew after a screening in Mayfair during which her solo performance was hailed as a “triumph”. The singer plays lover Elle, whose boyfriend ends the relationship over the phone, but the connection continues to sour. As she calls again and again, deeper issues slowly surface. You won’t take your eyes off the screen for 53 minutes.
So, would her first prime-time acting success see her pitch for the big screen? “I don’t really see myself as a movie star because it’s a whole new business.”
But she adds, “I’ve always been known as a singer who puts acting at the epicenter of everything I do. I consider singing and acting to be one and the same.”
In the series, her character She plays and sings… but also sheds tears, whispers, shouts and gets carried away. “It was a strange experience for me. Most of the time the cinematographer and the camera were six inches from my face. There was nowhere to hide.”
All of that on top of acting as an executive producer: “As a producer, I got to say, ‘There’s a bar missing here,’ so that was a whole other layer to think about. You can get pretty medical -legal about all of this.”
The play, written and performed for the first time in 1958, was originally a play by Jean Cocteau.
Filmed during lockdown after an idea suggested by his mother, the producers even brought the Royal Opera House Orchestra, conducted by Antonio Pappano, out of their house. “It’s definitely an article about confinement,” says Danielle, “when you couldn’t talk to anyone face-to-face. Although it was written in 1958, it still applies now. The telephone is used for everything from These days.”
Danielle, 42, has no obvious Australian accent despite growing up in Melbourne as a child of Sri Lankan parents.
Her singing prowess came to light early on when she won Australia’s most famous TV show, Young TalentTime. “Johnny Young was the presenter at the time and I won it when I was eight,” she recalled.
“I had a really big Australian accent when I was a kid. My whole family is there,” she continues. “My immediate family is in America.”
Does she feel British, American or Australian? “Australian? Probably not… things are so global now.
“I went back when they reopened the Sydney Opera House four years ago for The Merry Widow.
“It will stay with me forever.
“They went out of their way to show all those old Young Talent Time footage. I was so moved to be greeted like that.”
She is now married to Gus Christie who runs the famous annual Glyndebourne Opera Festival, after it was established by his family in 1934.
A thoughtful remark from Danielle: “Do you know, I think I’m the only Aussie in Glyndebourne.” ?
LaVoix Humaine, on BBC TWO, Good Friday, 10 p.m.