Opera's Roman Candle Newcomer

Cecilia Bartoli lights up the stage with her dark good looks, her youthful verve and, above all, her splendiferous coloratura

YOU MIGHT HEAR HER FIRST ON THE radio, as you're spinning along in a car perhaps. The composer might well be Rossini, and it won't be long before some hummingbird scales and trills fly by. The song continues and bursts into fantastic runs up and down the octaves. Wait a minute, you say, as it becomes clear that this is not just another exercise in bloodless bel canto. The voice you are hearing is fresh and juicy. This singer can make the trills tease, the roulades flirt. She tosses off cruelly difficult music as naturally as if she were chatting on...

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