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Danielle de Niese 

When: Sun., Feb. 8, 3 p.m. 2009
Price: $46

The Bay Area is so rich with classical offerings that a critic must choose between such excellent ensembles as Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Magnificat, the Young People's Symphony Orchestra, and the major stars honoring Robert Cole's final season at Cal Performances. Based in part on her recent, marvelous performance in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Orfeo, I'm going with the Cal Performances debut of 28-year old soprano Danielle de Niese. Physically and vocally irresistible when she teased and commanded her way through the role of Cleopatra in Handel's Julius Caesar at Glyndebourne, de Niese has shown herself capable of a wide range of emotional expression. If not as high-flying as Beverly Sills, I nonetheless expect her to be fabulous in Handel's "Endless Pleasure" and "Myself I Shall Adore," and moving in arias and songs by Grieg, Wolf, Poulenc, Barber, and Bizet. At Hertz Hall (Bancroft Way and Telegraph Ave, UC Berkeley) on Sunday, Feb. 8. 3 p.m., $46. CalPerformances.org or 510-642-9988


— Jason Victor Serinus

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