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[the classic Rosenkavalier and Hänsel und Gretel in Richard Jones’s fantastical and scary staging] I feel more confident as it’s the most wonderful acoustic. They’ve heard me and they know me, so I’m going to give it my best shot. If they had thought my voice was too small for the role, they wouldn’t have asked me. I think they want a young, fresh-voiced cast.’

We first met in the summer of 2007 when Persson was singing Sophie at the San Francisco Opera in Lotfi Mansouri’s recreation of the original Roller set and costume designs alongside Soile Isokoski’s Marschallin and Joyce DiDonato’s Octavian. At the time, she struck me as the outstanding Sophie singing today, certainly the best since Barbara Bonney or possibly Lucia Popp. It was the role of her Salzburg opera debut (2004) in Robert Carsen’s fin-de-siècle (19th) staging opposite Adrianne Pieczonka and Angelika Kirchschlager as Marie-Thérèse and Quinquin. Back in 2007, she told me she was giving it up and that the 2009 Met performances would be her last. Now she has changed her mind.‘I have one more Sophie in Vienna in 2012; after that, who knows? It’s still a good sing for me, and I know the part so well. As long as I can keep the floaty high notes and the voice is still there and it’s easy, then I think I should continue to sing it.’

Persson clearly sees herself at a crossroads in her career, beginning at least to think about jettisoning some of her ingénue roles in favour of some of opera’s grander ladies. But not quite yet. She sang Britten’s Governess in The Turn of the Screw in Frankfurt

■ The outstanding Sophie of her generation: Miah Persson (l.) in her Salzburg debut in Robert Carsen’s 2004 production, with Franz Hawlata as Ochs; (r.) in her Met debut last year, with Kristinn Sigmundsson

Opera, August 2010

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