It might be fair to call opera’s Santuzza one of those conflicted roles. But not only is the ‘heroine’ of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticanaa bundle of emotional complications, she’s also a bit of a vocal puzzle. Soprano or mezzo? In the past she’s been successfully tackled by the sopranos such as Renata Scotto, Maria Callas and Julia Varady, but then she’s also proved a hit for Agnes Baltsa, Violetta Urmana and Fiorenza Cossotto, to name a trio of ambitious mezzos.

What about Jacqueline Dark, then, who is currently in rehearsal for State Opera of South Australia? Asked if she’s a mezzo with soprano ambitions, Dark laughs: “I don’t really have ambitions, my voice is just kind of leading the way and I’m following it.” Dark admits that Santuzza was not always on her radar. “It never really crossed my mind when I was a real kind of mezzomezzo, but the higher my voice got, it was a role that I wanted to sing.”

“I’ve always loved Santuzza as a character,” she admits. “She is completely relatable and completely sympathetic and I absolutely love her. I hear so many people say ‘ah, she’s so unlikable’, but I think she is every...

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