Music: Mezzo from Ohio

A tall girl with dark brown braids and a mezzo-soprano voice stepped out on the Metropolitan Opera's gilt-framed stage for the first time. Making her debut as Fricka in Die Walküre, Blanche Thebom (pronounced thee-bum), 25, threw Manhattan's normally low-pressure music critics into fits of excitement: "Remarkable! ... a natural . . . strikingly handsome . . . exceptional vocal endowments. . . ."

That was last December. Last week, in her second big Met role (Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde), Thebom did it again. The sustained critical cheers confirmed her triumph:...

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