It’s hard to reconcile soprano Ailyn Pérez’s offstage bubbliness with the shy Micaëla, so tragically overlooked by Don José in Carmen. But opera critics—few critics are harsher—were won over by Pérez’s Metropolitan Opera debut in the role earlier this year, many arguing that she stole the show. The Met, too, seems smitten: She has been invited back to play Musetta in La Bohème next spring, and future leading parts are in the works.

Raised by immigrant parents outside Chicago, Pérez, 35, says her dream 
role at the Met would be Violetta in La Traviata—“with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts sitting together in the audience!”

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