Preview: The Bartered Bride, Glyndebourne Festival, Lewes

Her name in northern lights
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The Independent Culture

Coming from a rural backwater in a sparsely populated land boasting just one opera house, the Norwegian soprano Solveig Kringelborn is the archetypal small-town girl made good.

Coming from a rural backwater in a sparsely populated land boasting just one opera house, the Norwegian soprano Solveig Kringelborn is the archetypal small-town girl made good.

On the other hand, as a mayor's daughter, she might always have been marked out for stardom. And when she appears at Glyndebourne on Saturday as Marenka in Smetana's The Bartered Bride - a girl who loves truly, finds herself betrayed, fights back and eventually gets her man - a star is what she will be.

She's done the role in this same show before - seven years ago, when this engaging production by Nikolaus Lehnhoff was premiered - and many of the original audience will be back to savour her silvery timbre and her plangently truthful portrayal.

How did she begin? "It seems the impulse always came from me," she says. "My parents told me I could sing before I could speak. I started singing in a choir when I was six, and by 14 I was singing in four choirs. But things didn't get serious until I was 16, when I realised that singing was taking over my life."

By that time she was also a noted classical guitarist, giving lessons to earn her pocket money, while singing at weddings simply for the love of it. What did she sing? "Norwegian songs and romances, mostly by Grieg, who is still my favourite composer." But she was also singing Mozart - Pamina, Susanna - at the instigation of her singing teacher, who was scrupulously careful not to push her voice too hard.

Kirsten Flagstad, Maria Callas and Kiri Te Kanawa were her early heroes - "all people who put their soul into their singing" - and her progress from the Oslo academy to the international circuit was smooth.

But she remains a fierce evangelist for the music of Norway, which she's recorded for the record company NMA - Nordic Music Art - which she and her journalist husband have set up.

'The Bartered Bride', Glyndebourne (01273 812321; www.glyndebourne.com), in rep from 11 June to 4 August

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