Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux will headline a series of concerts with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra led by Maestro Nicholas McGegan starting tonight in Atherton, tomorrow in San Francisco, and Saturday and Sunday in Berkeley. The Alaskan-born singer burst on the opera scene in the bel canto repertoire. She was last heard on the stage of the SF Opera leading Rossini's The Italian Girl in Algiers, where she vowed critics. And we quote: "the evening's true glory belonged to Genaux...whose company debut was a masterpiece of vocal grandeur and theatrical whimsy...Best of all, she delivered Rossini's rapid-fire coloratura with breathtaking virtuosity and precision, all without breaking a sweat." She was actually in the middle of rehearsals in Madrid for this same role of Isabella when we chatted with her a couple weeks ago.

You know who else was famous for vocal agility? Castrati, that's who. Farinelli, the most famous of them all, is the picture for coloratura on Wikipedia. And Vivica has become quite a Baroque specialist and scholar, even moving to Venice to be closer to that scene. So it's only natural she will sing some of Farinelli's arias in her concerts this week, which she recorded on a Grammy-nominated CD with Rene Jacobs. Check this out to give you a flavor.