Giulio Cesare, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, East Sussex

Bright star Angelika will dazzle
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The Independent Culture

She may not be in the title role, but as the enraged young warrior Sesto, Angelika Kirchschlager will be the main draw in David McVicar's revival of Giulio Cesare. Whatever she does - even if only a recital at the Wigmore Hall - there's something riveting about this feisty young Austrian mezzo.

She has set the stage ablaze in Mozart and Strauss, but this is her first outing with Handel, and she's full of the newness of it all. "Handel is freer and jazzier than Mozart, the coloratura is more demanding. And in this very physical production, we're moving about so much that you can run out of breath before you've even started singing."

How did she start singing? "Unseriously at home, just folk songs round the table, or in the car."

The first intimation of something more interesting came when she was singing in class at the age of nine, and another girl asked the teacher why her voice sounded so "strange".

"It really was just a very simple child's voice, and it wasn't particularly low, but it must have been in some way different."

Her first big musical experience came when she sang in a children's production of Carmen: "I bought my first TV from the money I earned - and for the first time I was involved on all this dressing-room business, which I found fascinating."

The real beginning came when she played a male clown - "which is what I still am" - in a children's opera when she was 18. "I discovered that I really liked performing on stage with an orchestra - and with a dressing room!" What is it about dressing rooms?

A pause, then: "I've never really thought about that until this moment - but it must be the fact that they are places where you transform yourself magically into something different."

Her favourite role may be the impetuous young Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, but her Sesto will coruscate.

From 3 July (01273 813813; www.glyndebourne.com). Season ends 28 August

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