Could opera starlet Persia Shafi-Cliffe be Leeds’s answer to Charlotte Church?
The talented schoolgirl is currently hitting all the right notes in Opera North’s production of La Boheme, at the Leeds Grand, having wowed audition judges with her beautiful voice and impressive acting.
But the 10-year-old’s talents extend far beyond classical music and opera, with favourite bands including Siouxsie and the Banshees as well as – wait for it – ACDC.
“Persia’s always singing, ever since she got bitten by the opera bug about three years ago,” explains proud mum Sarah. “But as well as practising arias I also frequently catch her singing along to the likes of Motorhead and ACDC.
“I used to be a goth, back in the day, so that’s probably where she gets it from.”
Persia is one of 20 youngsters making up the chorus in Puccini’s heart-breaking masterpiece, La Boheme, which is described as a timeless tale about young love and tragic loss.
The gruelling rehearsal schedule began just before Easter, with some sessions lasting more than eight hours, but Persia insists it’s all worth it.
“I’ve been really tired, but I’ve loved every minute,” explained Persia, who lives in West Park and goes to St Chad’s Primary School. “I really want to try my best and achieve my goal. If I could be like any opera singer, it would be Maria Callas.”
Persia has also appeared at the Royal Albert Hall and sung live on BBC2’s Breakfast Show, after which an awe-struck Chris Evans told her she had perfect pitch.
The Dalai Lama was also impressed by her considerable vocal talents, when she joined others to sing a welcome song at a convention he was speaking at in Leeds.
La Boheme is being performed at Leeds Grand until May 10.