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For Albina Shagimuratova, opera is a special kind of love and madness
For Albina Shagimuratova, opera is a special kind of love and madness

The sound of a woman descending into madness is rich and piercing — and oddly beautiful. In a quiet rehearsal room at the Los Angeles Opera, music director James Conlon gathers about half a dozen people around a grand piano. Among them is Russian coloratura soprano Albina Shagimuratova and French musician Thomas Bloch, who's just arrived from Paris with a rare, treasured instrument, the glass harmonica. Bloch takes a seat at what looks like an antique pedal sewing machine with gold-rimmed glass discs rotating on its spindle. Shagimuratova sits on a rickety folding chair, her legs crossed and hands clasped on her knee, lady-like; Conlon stands before them, straightening his...

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