Shattering Opera's Glass Ceiling

When she was eight years old, Francesca Zambello was taken by her father to a production of Madam Butterfly at London's Covent Garden. The little girl was obviously hooked by the Puccini music, because later, when Zambello moved to Vienna and then to Frankfurt during her college years, she could regularly be found in the standing-room only sections of the two cities' opera houses.

This May, the 44-year-old Zambello was back at Covent Garden — this time on stage, taking her bows as director of a rapturously received...

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