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For immediate release
July 12, 2004
Jen Pearl, 202-513-2310
Jenny Lawhorn, 202-513-2754

NPR Follows an American Diva


WASHINGTON, DC - On July 30, 2004 All Things Considered host Robert Siegel looks at the life of an aspiring opera singer in "Training to be a Diva," a story resplendent with beautiful music documenting 29-year-old soprano Maria Jooste as she tries to launch her career. Siegel spent a year watching, listening to and talking with Jooste. It is a year of acting classes, singing lessons, understudy appearances and one unexpected on-stage debut. The 23-minute feature will air during the regular edition of All Things Considered.

Maria Jooste studied voice in South Africa, Texas and at the Juilliard school in New York. In 2003, Jooste was accepted to the prestigious two-year young artist program at the Washington National Opera.

Siegel traces Jooste's successes and setbacks, taking listeners along as the singer learns that a stellar voice may not guarantee stardom - or even a part. The opera world is changing, and Jooste's weight (more than 300 pounds) is proving to be an obstacle to her dream. Jooste had another challenge several years ago, when a debilitating bout of bronchitis almost took her voice.

Robert Siegel, senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered, became interested in Jooste's story after NPR producer Julia Buckley approached him with the idea of following a young artist for a year. By investing so much time in the piece, Siegel and Buckley have created a rich, personal story about what it means to be an opera star.

All Things Considered airs afternoons from 4-6 p.m. in many cities. It is the third most listened-to radio program in the country with more than 11 million listeners each week, airing on more than 600 public radio stations nationwide. Local station listings and times are available at

About NPR
NPR is renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news and entertainment programming. A privately supported, non-profit, membership organization, NPR serves a growing audience of more than 22 million Americans each week via more than 770 public radio stations. International partners in cable, satellite and short-wave services make NPR programming accessible anywhere in the world. With original online content and audio streaming, offers hourly newscasts, special features and seven years of archived audio and information.