Scottish-American soprano Mary Garden (1874-1967) portrayed Goethe's character Gretchen, known as Marguerite in Charles Gounod's opera Faust. Bettmann/CORBIS hide caption

itoggle caption Bettmann/CORBIS

Magda Olivero performing Francis Poulenc's one-woman opera La voix humaine at San Francisco Opera in 1979. Ron Scherl/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Ron Scherl/Redferns/Getty Images

Renee Fleming. Andrew Eccles/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Andrew Eccles/Courtesy of the artist

Reneé Fleming (right) and Susan Graham — two "cheerful Americans" often mistaken for each other — are planning an intimate evening of French song. Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging hide caption

itoggle caption Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein has a passion for rhythmically free musical lines. Lisa Marie Mazzucco/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Lisa Marie Mazzucco/Courtesy of the artist

Verdi trumps Shakespeare by inserting a hauntingly beautiful "Ave Maria" into his operatic version of Othello. Universal Classics hide caption

itoggle caption Universal Classics