Plenty of child stars, not to mention desperate housewives, could learn a thing or two about not behaving badly from 12-year-old Jackie Evancho.
This top-of-the-charts crossover classical singer, who performs at the State Theatre on Tuesday, was also named one of the "Ten Best-Mannered People of 2011" by the National League of Junior Cotillions, and during a recent telephone interview, it showed.
After shooting to fame two years ago while competing on "America's Got Talent," astonishing the judges with her mature soprano and looking like a pint-sized Taylor Swift, she could be excused for acting like a bit of a diva. But the sweet, shy voice on the other end of the line sounds, at the moment, like that of any all-American tween.
"I always promised myself I would never become a brat," said Evancho, speaking from the suburban Pittsburgh home she shares with her parents and three siblings -- and three dogs, two cats, two frogs, a guinea pig and four snakes. "I'm not really a fan of people who think they're better than others. There's no reason to act that way. I couldn't even stand to yell at someone if they bumped right into me."
Evancho (pronounced ee-vang-koh) was Billboard's top classical-albums artist in 2011, with three of the top four albums on the year-end chart, and she was ranked No. 2 in 2012. Her latest collection, "Songs From the Silver Screen," is currently No. 2 on Billboard's classical chart.
Q How do you keep your voice in shape? Do you have a vocal coach?
A No. I don't practice very often but would like to start doing it more. It helps to have a humidifier around.
Q How much influence do you have over choosing the songs you record?
A My mom, dad and manager have to agree on all of the songs, but I did bring up "The Music of the Night" from "The Phantom of the Opera" as my favorite of all. I just had to have it on the CD.
Q You sing a lot of popular classical opera, like "O Mio Babbino Caro" in Italian. Do you know what all the foreign words mean?
A I learn how to say them first, then what they mean.
Q Do you still have to do chores at home or do you get a pass because of your busy schedule?
A I have to clean my room and unload the dishwasher, wash the pans and feed the dogs.
Q You have so many pets, including snakes. You aren't scared of snakes?
A No, people think they're icky because they hear stories, but I think they're so cute. They're corn snakes so they don't bite, and I love the details in their pretty patterns.
Q Who are your professional idols?
A Sarah Brightman and Emmy Rossum, because they were both in "The Phantom of the Opera."
Q What's on your iPod?
A I haven't added many songs lately but I listen to what a lot of the girls do, Maroon 5, and I like the electronic noise, that sound. Me and my dad love [British dance band] Nero, because of the bass.
Q Last good movie you saw?
A "Pitch Perfect." Rebel Wilson is so good in that.
Q Favorite TV shows?
A I like "Sponge Bob" and "The Last Airbender." I like shows where people get creative to do the impossible.
Q Favorite home-cooked meal?
A We have fondue nights with shrimp, chicken and broccoli, and I like the steak my parents make.
Q Do you ever have time to kick back with your friends anymore?
A Yes, my parents are strict about me having a childhood. I go ice skating and sledding, and swimming in the summer.
Q Do you get to pick your stage dresses, or give a thumbs down on ones you don't like?
A It's me, my mom and my stylist deciding, and we can usually agree on a happy medium.
Q If you choose not to continue singing when you grow up, what would you do?
A I can't imagine myself not singing, but I'd love to be an actress.
Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046