The World: Funeral for a Nightingale

Few Westerners ever fathomed the appeal of Umm Kulthum, the buxom, handkerchief-waving Egyptian singer who was known to her Middle Eastern fans as "the Nightingale of the Nile." She had a stentorian contralto and a quavering wail that grated on the ears of those attuned to the trills of opera divas. But her voice was a near-perfect instrument for expressing the sinuous quarter tones of Arabic music.

Last week, at 76, Umm Kulthum died of a cerebral hemorrhage. She retired two years ago, and even before that her appearances were few. However, her public funeral rivaled that of Gamal Abdel Nasser's four...

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