De Chinese Zheng Cao (foto YouTube) was een voorbeeld van podiumvastheid. Het was spijtig dat zij slechts één aria van Carmen mocht zingen op de gala-avond van ECOV, want zeker van een Chinese hadden we nooit zoveel vuur verwacht. Helaas is ze op jonge leeftijd gestorven aan longkanker (ook al was ze niet-roker).

Zheng Cao was born July 9, 1966 to parents Mao Yuan Cao and Xiao Jiao Huang in Shanghai, China. As an undergraduate, she attended Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In 1988, Cao moved to the United States to attend American University in Washington, D.C. to study English and sing. She then began attending Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

While at Curtis, Cao performed on a cruise ship, where she met actor Troy Donahue. After Cao received her master’s degree from Curtis, she and Donahue moved to Santa Monica, California. Donahue traveled with Cao to cities where she performed when he was not away doing personal appearances on cruises and at film festivals. They became engaged in 1999 and remained together until his death in 2001 from a heart attack at the age of 65. Cao then moved to San Francisco, where, in 2010, she married Dr. David Larson, a radiation oncologist who was involved in her cancer treatment.

The chemotherapy Cao received shrunk Cao’s lung and liver tumors by over fifty percent in the first three months. This allowed her to continue to perform on the opera stage, singing with Pittsburgh Opera and Vancouver Opera. After 16 months the drug stopped working, and Cao began a series of both common chemotherapy and clinical trials.

The results of these treatments were mixed, and Cao’s last public performance was in 2011 with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra where she premiered Nathaniel Stookey‘s Into the Bright Lights with words by her close friend and mentor, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. On February 21, 2013, Zheng Cao died from complications from lung cancer at her San Francisco home which she shared with Larson. [Wikipedia]

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