The Encore: A Memoir in Three Acts

Opera singers know drama--they have to, so they can pour themselves into demanding, heart-stirring roles. But Charity Tillemann-Dick didn't expect her personal drama to include two double-lung transplants in three years. Diagnosed with a rare and usually fatal pulmonary condition, she was determined to keep singing even through her grueling treatments and first lung transplant. But as her medical condition worsened, she wasn't sure she would survive. In her memoir, The Encore, Tillemann-Dick shares the story of her singing career, her illness and recovery, and the incredible love and support of her family, her doctors and the man who became her husband.

Like many memoirs of illness and recovery, Tillemann-Dick's story occasionally becomes a blur of tests and hospitals, doctors and nurses, medical setbacks and triumphs. But her clear-eyed, fresh voice--honest almost to a fault--keeps the narrative from becoming saccharine or too repetitive. Her Mormon faith runs throughout like a leitmotif from one of her beloved operas, adding depth and dimension to an already powerful story.

Fittingly for an opera or a life, The Encore contains a few glamorous "aria" moments: Tillemann-Dick's debut at Lincoln Center, her TED talk and the attention it garners. But those scenes pale in comparison, as they should, to the supporting "recitative" sections: the selfless love and devotion of her supporting cast of doctors and loved ones, and Tillemann-Dick's own resilience and determination to keep singing however she can. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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