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New York Award: Opera

Denyce Graves

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Trust us -- Denyce Graves has the voice to match her looks. As a prominent exponent of Carmen, Dalila, and other operatic sirens, she has persuaded audiences the world over to like what they hear as much as what they see. During the past year, her presence in New York has been especially prominent -- at the Metropolitan Opera, of course, but also giving voice to our collective grief, and our resilience, after September 11. Reared in a poor, tough Washington, D.C., neighborhood, Graves is no stranger to suffering, and you can hear that when she sings. (That combination of beauty, power, and humanity may explain why she was a regular guest at the Clinton White House, and why she was invited by the Yankees to sing at two of their World Series games.) Composers are eager to write for her -- an opera by Richard Danielpour based on Toni Morrison's novel Beloved is in the works -- and her crossover appeal is such that you can catch Graves chatting with Oprah, Larry King, and the denizens of Sesame Street.


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