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Here's what you'll find overall -- La Bohème (1896) and Madama Butterfly (1904) -- three arias each; Manon Lescaut (1893), La Rondine (1917) and Turandot (1926) -- two arias each; Le Villi (1884), Edgar (1889), Tosca (1900), Suor Angelica (1918) and Gianni Schicchi ( 1918) -- one aria each. To cap the lot there are two non-operatic offerings -- E l'uccellino (1899) and Sole e amore (1888).

Now try diva Barker's robust, impassioned, soul-bearing  'Vissi d'arte' (Tosca) [listen -- track 8, 0:01-0:45] or the more introspective 'O mio babbino caro' (Gianni Schicchi) [listen -- track 15, 0:29-1:00].

Last year Cheryl appeared with Australian Opera in Puccini's Il Trittico ('The Triptych', 1918) -- Il tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi -- singing all three soprano roles; requiring wholly distinct characterizations. No mean feat.

Tabarro is a passionate drama set on a Parisian quay (early 1900s); Angelica is intimate and religious, set in a Tuscan Convent (late 1600s) and Schicchi is comic, located in a Florentine home (late 13th century). They call for a large, adaptable cast, multiple stage sets and costumes, plus a constantly alert orchestra and sagacious direction.

In 2009 Cheryl returns to Puccini with Madam Butterfly and Manon Lescaut penciled in her engagements diary. 'Cio-Cio-San is my favorite role', she says. For the meantime Arabella (1933), Otello (1887) and Vec Makropoulos (1926) loom ahead of her.

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Copyright © 14 January 2008 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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