One weeknight in 1985, a sophomore music student at the University of North Texas sat on the floor of her apartment and listened to a cassette tape that changed the course of her life.
Patricia Racette recalls the moment vividly: Italian soprano Renata Scotto sang Puccini’s “Senza Mamma” aria from Suor Angelica. A 20-year-old Racette followed along with the score, captivated by the vocal and dramatic opulence of the art she was consuming.
“Like a lightning bolt,” Racette says.
Before that point, the pieces she had been given to sing “might have suited me vocally, but they did not suit my temperament. My teacher was smart enough to see that, so she gave me a little pain...