Ailish Tynan plays a short, fat, bald man in David Alden's staging of Handel's Radamisto at ENO. It is, she says, an occupational hazard when venturing into the cross-gender world of 18th century opera.

That Tynan is one of our brightest young stars - a shining lyric soprano equally at home in the rarefied world of song as she is in opera - only adds to the somewhat surreal prospect of hearing that voice emanating from a grotesquely fat-suited body. Tynan herself is a pretty 5-foot bundle of fun whose songful Irish brogue is entirely in keeping with the voice she produces.

Edward Seckerson had a job getting a word in edgeways when they met during the first stage rehearsals for Radamisto. It's only her second Handel opera and she's totally smitten: for a singer well used to living above the stave the prospect of high-flying embellishments has her waxing lyrical and then some. Tynan's story is an engaging one. From her convent school beginnings to her place in the Young Artists programme at the Royal Opera and her Rosenblatt Recital Prize at the 2003 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition success still seems almost to have taken her by surprise...

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