Ex ore infantium

There are lots of these “unknown people show their hidden talents” TV shows now.  Sometimes they produce some surprises.

This one? Wow.

9 years old.

Mi piace, è bella… bella.

She is singing a well-known aria from Puccini’s short Gianni Schicchi: Il mio babbino caro.  Lauretta, the not-too-bright sounding daughter of the rich old dying Buoso, about to bequeath his fortune to a monastery, is singing about the guy she has a crush on.  In short, “He’s cute… I, like, want a ring right now… if I can’t, like, have him I’ll throw myself off the bridge into the Arno and… like… daddy, I’ll just DIE!”

If they don’t hurt her developing voice, maybe one day she’ll another Renee Flemming.

Or maybe a Kathleen Battle.  Gotta love the way she comes out onto the stage.  She has all the hauteur of a Tiepolo allegory.

Examples could be multiplied.

I know that some of you are “inoperable”, but… well… your loss.

POSTLUDE: Dante puts Schicchi in hell for the trick he plays on the family.  FWIW.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. kelleyb says:

    I was smiling like a fool with tears running down my face at the end of her piece. Oh My! I pray “they” do not ruin this precious gift. Thanks Father for posting this.

  2. Jim of Bowie says:

    Can’t believe that sound could come out of a nine year old.

  3. Rachel Pineda says:

    This is why beauty is so very important. Kathleen Battle’s voice is so beautiful it is almost painful.
    My children and I love to crank this up and listen thank you! I saw the video of the little girl and I must agree, WOW, what an incredible surprise. I love her facial expressions, so sweet! Here is one you may like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezvj-De6bxY&feature=share&list=FL7SD6sDM_YMhPxuhLVI4YUw&index=17

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    For those who are “operable”:
    Opera Baroque, a limited edition from Harmonia Mundi.

    [Oooo! Love that stuff.]

  5. Sandy says:

    How could I not watch and hear with tears filling my eyes! This is true beauty, a gift from God. When the video ended, I watched another one that was offered – young Jackie Evancho, and remembered the first time we heard her. I love the reactions of those who are listening to these performances, just as when they heard Susan Boyle that first time. How the world needs to know the connection between God and authentic beauty.

  6. Netmilsmom says:

    When I was 9, I was lucky to make it all the way through “Happy Birthday” without people running and holding their ears.
    What a gorgeous gift this young lady has!

  7. rodin says:

    A favorite aria from a favorite composer done by three magnificent voices. Wish we could have been spared the affected reactions of the panel. Next time around I’ll close my eyes.

  8. lizaanne says:

    Stunningly beautiful! Such a clean, clear, purity to her voice – like a long drink of cool crisp water.

  9. J_Cathelineau says:

    Er…i´m here just to say that my wife told me today that another kid is coming to the family. Our 6th. I´m so happy that I wanted to say it. Please, Fr Z. pray for us. And give me a star. I deserve it. God bless you all.

    Ps Nice vids, I guess…

  10. tealady24 says:

    Are these ladies not heaven-sent?! RF has the most beautiful voice in the world. I caught the Christmas special with her singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and their (and her) rendition of “Angels We Have Heard On High” takes your breath away!
    Maybe someday this sweet little girl will join ranks with these diva’s. Truly a voice from God.

  11. NBW says:

    Miss Willighagen has a very beautiful and expressive voice; truly a gift from God. Thank you for sharing Fr. Z.

  12. rroan says:

    One of the most memorable nights of my life was a 1993 performance in Dallas of Jenufa that featured Ms. Fleming in the title role well before she was as famous as she is now.

    I was deeply moved by the music (I had not been familiar with Janacek before then) and Ms. Fleming’s performance, but especially the storyline – most apt for our Culture of Death society.

    It has since become one of my (if not THE) favorite operas. I was trying to explain why I love this opera so much to a business associate by going through the scene in which Jenufa is praying for the safety of her (doomed) baby and though it had been many years since I had seen it the tears began to well up in the middle of my discourse. It is that powerful.

  13. moon1234 says:

    Don’t forget Jackie Evancho from back in 2010. She has some amazing talent as well:


    Notice a wonderful choice in music?

    And Three years later she is just as good if not better:

    Watch her perform on the PBS Great Performances specials. She has been on many years and is booked on the 2014 specials as well.

  14. lsclerkin says:

    Oh. My.
    I was raised on classical music.
    Didn’t like opera, however.

    Except him. Always.
    Sigh. :) thank you, Father.

  15. Gail F says:

    The “inoperable” may not know that Gianni Schicci is a one-act COMEDY. And a hilarious one at that. When you know the words, this gorgeous aria is a laugh-fest. Really. And that fact that it is so beautiful just makes it even funnier.

  16. Iacobus M says:

    Bellissima! What a lovely young woman, and a beautiful voice.
    By the way, a nicely done version of Gianni Schicchi is here (it’s short, less than an hour):
    In Puccini’s opera this beautiful aria is sung by a shallow young woman trying to wheedle something from her father, as Fr Z. points out. In a similar way, some of Mozart’s most beautiful songs come out of the mouths of characters engaged in decidedly unlovely activities (La Ci Darem La Mano, Sull’ Aria, Soave Sia Il Vento). There’s something going on there, don’t know what.


  17. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Admire Fleming, but Battle has such a clear tone; and she doesn’t slide into the high notes – they come out pure. I hope the young lady will have good and sensible training. It is so easy to harm a young voice. She is surely gifted.

  18. joan ellen says:

    Thank you Fr. Just beautiful.

  19. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Not only Amira Willighagen’s age but the character of her style of singing at that age (as compared, for example with Aled Jones or Charlotte Church) are extrarordinary. It is worth mentioning that she has now won the annual competition – with the Bach/Gounod “Ave Maria”!

  20. cwillia1 says:

    On the subject of beautiful female voices, there is Divna Ljubojevic’. I just discovered this woman;s voice on the internet. She is Serbian and sings in Greek and Slavonic – hymns and liturgical music.
    You might start with her rendition of the modern Greek hymn Agni Parthene.

  21. chinjq says:

    I am not a fan of Puccini myself on most days, but I do love Renée Fleming. And I think she really shines in her interpretations of Strauss.

    I offer a link to her intepretation of Morgen:

    And I also offer Arkhangelsky’s Greater Doxology: (because cwillia1 brought up Eastern music)

  22. The Sicilian Woman says:

    That is my favorite aria. It’s usually performed dramatically, but it’s actually supposed to be comedic, as Lauretta is playing her father. (An Italian girl, trying to manipulate her father. Imagine that!)

    My favorite version is still Kiri Te Kanawa’s. That said, this kid has a future.

  23. LadyMarchmain says:

    I’ve said a prayer that the family and agents don’t exploit this child’s incredible, God-given talent.

    I’m dating myself, but one of my favorite divas is Leontyne Price; to my ear, RF is constantly forcing, like most of the more recent generation. There’s a beautiful rendition on youtube from 1981.

    And then there is the amazing Callas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69pxWVjlbNo

  24. rcg says:

    The Metropolitan has a digital series that is broadcast to local theaters worldwide. Check the local papers. Ms. Fleming hosts the programme and you get a phenomenal view of the set, the stage, etc. It is wonderful. It is usually on Saturday afternoons as a matinée when the old Met Opera show was on the radio. Levine is conducting again, too. You can get popcorn and a Mountain Dew and watch opera on a 50 foot screen with an excellent sound system!!!!

  25. anna 6 says:

    Fleming and Battle…so awesome, yet so different.

    Remember when the latter sang The Lord’s Prayer” for Benedict at the White House?

  26. guans says:

    Reminds me of the delightful movie from 1985 A Room with a View.
    The aria was in it.

  27. Ellen says:

    What a lovely voice. My own favorite opera singer was the late Eileen Farrell. She could sing Wagner and then turn around and sing George Gershwin and sing it beautifully. To my ears, when opera singers attempt The Great American Song Book, they sound like their mouths are full of mush.
    Not Eileen Farrell


  28. Martlet says:

    It isn’t often that I actually feel my jaw drop, but it did as soon as I heard that young voice. Thank you for sharing this.

  29. No doubt about it, a gift of God. “Adeodatus” I believe.

    Sadly, I am reminded of Charlotte Church and pray Amira Willighagen doesn’t succumb to the temptations of the world.

  30. paul_leone says:

    Truly a fantastic voice God gave her!

    (While we’re sharing music, I’ll recommend Hayley Westenra. In many ways, she’s the Charlotte Church who didn’t wander astray, although Hayley’s career did start a couple years later in life. At any rate, she was and remains a beautiful singer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nLKXxzVqTY)

  31. Muv says:


    “Wish we could have been spared the affected reactions of the panel.”

    The man on the left just gazes at her in wonder and smiles. What would you have done?

    All the conversation was in Dutch and has been edited out of this particular video. Watch the subtitled version here so you can put their reactions into their proper context. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDqTBlKU4CE

    Thank you Fr. Z. for posting the video.

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