Damien Fowler
| Credit: Damien Fowler

A new generation of operatic artists is bringing a burst of energy—and unprecedented acting chops—to classic roles. An ideal: Natalie Dessay, a waif with a light coloratura voice and a commitment to the story that sends her whole body quivering as she brings roles to life. Perfectly suited to Mozart’s Queen of the Night, she retired that part long ago in favor of more varied heroines, including Massenet’s Manon, a role she performs at the Lyric Opera of Chicago (September 27–October 31; with a rising-star tenor, Jonas Kaufmann. And this fall, another former Queen of the Night, German soprano Diana Damrau, takes on Lucia di Lammermoor at the Met (October 3–25;, while Joyce DiDonato, the sparkling American mezzo who seems to be moving up into soprano territory, will sing in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict at the Houston Grand Opera (October 30–November 14; And one grand diva, the glamorous Angela Gheorghiu, also reigns within two major new productions: Faust in Vienna at the Staatsoper (October 11–26; and Puccini’s romantic and bittersweet La Rondine at the Met (December 31–February 26;