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Sunday, 3 December, 2000, 11:21 GMT
Stars win for opera diva
Nicola Kirsch
A dream come true for Nicola Kirsch
The enduring popularity of opera singer Maria Callas has turned a cleaner from Wiltshire into a TV star.

Nicola Kirsch, from Salisbury, took the coveted Stars in Their Eyes title with her impersonation of the opera legend.

Her rendition of O Mio Babino Caro won over TV viewers, with 474,176 people voting for her.

Nicola Kirsch
Nicola won viewers' hearts
Her closest rival, a Meatloaf impersonator, managed only 135,821 votes. Altogether 1.3 million viewers called the ITV show to vote for the 10 finalists.

"I didn't expect anything like this when I put the tape in the letterbox," said Miss Kirsch.

"I was really surprised that so many people had voted but when I found out I had won I was more worried about my hairnet because I think I got it caught on someone."

'Tinged with sadness'

But the joy of the night was overshadowed for the 44-year-old, who took a cleaning job while she looked after her ill mother.

"The night was tinged with sadness because the two people I would liked to have been here, my father and my teacher, have both died," she said.

Miss Kirsch has previously spent summer months earning a living by singing operatic arias and duets on the streets of Barcelona and Milan and said she lives and breathes opera.

She takes over as champion from Gary Mullen, who performed as Freddie Mercury.

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See also:

21 May 00 | Entertainment
A kind of magic for Stars winner
03 Dec 00 | Europe
$17,000 for Callas glasses
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