|Year of Birth:||1965|
Natalie Dessay (French: ; born 19 April 1965) is a French singer and actress who had a highly acclaimed career as a operatic coloratura soprano before leaving the opera stage on 15 October 2013. She received wide acclaim in roles such as Olympia in Les contes d'Hoffmann, the title role in Lakmé, Ophélie in Halmet and the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte. In her later career, she took on roles in the romantic bel canto repertoire and performed Baroque music by composers such as Handel and Bach. She became an Austrian Kammersängerin in 2010 and Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 2011. After her operatic retirement, she pursues a career involving concert and theatre. In concert, she performs other genres such as jazz and chanson as well as classical.
She was born as Nathalie Dessaix in Lyon. She dropped the silent "h" in her first name in honor of Natalie Wood when she was in grade school and subsequently simplified the spelling of her surname. In her youth, Dessay had intended to be a ballet dancer and then an actress. She discovered her talent for singing while taking acting classes and shifted her focus to music. Dessay was encouraged to study voice at the Conservatoire de Bordeaux and gained experience as a chorister in Toulouse. At the competition Les Voix Nouvelles, run by France Télécom, she was awarded second prize followed by a year's study at Paris Opera's Ecole d'Art Lyrique, where she sang Elisa in Mozart's Il re pastore. She entered the International Mozart Competition at the Vienna State Opera, winning first prize.