A potential role model for Jackie Evancho: 'Bubbles' Silverman

The current enthusiasm for a talented young American -- I mean a young American who's got talent -- made me think about another little girl who surprised people with her vocal ability. More on that in a moment.

I only wish the best for 10-year-old Jackie Evancho (despite what some commentors on this blog seemed to think, in response to last week's post), and I don't mean only the best in whatever other competitive ventures await for her on TV. I'm hoping that she will be guided sensibly and sensitively toward

the maximum refinement of her musical abilities. And, naturally (hey, I've got to do my part to keep classical music going), I hope Jackie will aim for the gold: I'd like to think she'll take the ultimate path into opera and art song when she gets older, rather than the commercially more enticing road.

I worry about young people exposed to so much glitz and fame at a tender point in their development, getting into the fickle clutches of the whole Idol-ization franchise. It's cool for someone with real talent to get wide recognition; it may be less cool if it all goes to the head, or into the pockets of folks with less-than-noble interests.

Anyway, as I mentioned last week, the Jackie phenomenon isn't entirely new. Unusually young voices with operatic potential occasionally appear, startling everybody. Here's an eight-year-old who could serve as a fine role model for Jackie. She was known to family and friends as "Bubbles" Silverman when this film was made. She went on to study very seriously, to develop an exceptional technique and a keen sense of style. She grew up to be Beverly Sills, one of the most famous -- and, IMHO, one of the finest -- opera singers of the 20th century:

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