On the launch of her new CD with “the dancing conductor”, the singer recalls the winding path to vocal glory.

To me, bel cantoisn’t just a technical term. It means beautiful singing, but it’s also about maintaining the beauty of the sound and keeping the voice legato. At heart I’m a bel cantosinger – I think the core of my voice is a beautiful sound – but to add drama, I have to become a bit un- bel canto, and that’s a challenge. Doing bigger things like Violetta in La Traviatarequires a different way of singing.

I first came across bel cantolistening to recordings of Joan Sutherland when I was studying at the Conservatorium in Perth. I went to college only knowing La Bohèmeand Don Giovanni, so I would sit up and listen in the library at night – opera after opera after opera – just so as I could learn the repertoire.

It was there amongst the scores and the records that I fell in love with great bel cantosingers like Elly Ameling and Edita Gruberová. I listened to the younger ones too, like Sumi Jo and Cecilia Bartoli, because their coloratura was –...

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