Italian prima donna Francesca Cuzzoni (ca. 1698–1770) was the first internationally recognized virtuosa to sing high soprano women's roles. Although her work served as a model to the female performers who followed, no in-depth critical study has been written about her groundbreaking career on the opera stage of the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she was the celebrated prima donna from 1723 to 1728. During her tenure, the Royal Academy became one of the most important opera companies in Europe, rivaling those of the Viennese court, the Paris Opera, and the Italian opera houses of Naples and Venice. Her arrival on the London stage signaled a shift in the ways composers set roles in relationship to vocal categories and gender. In particular, Cuzzoni's superior virtuosic vocal abilities influenced and inspired German George Friedrich Handel's (1685–1759) compositional style and his musical treatment of dramatic elements.
Claudia Rene Wier is a lyric soprano who sang professionally for seven years with the City Opera Theatre in Regensburg, Germany. In 2008 she completed an internship, with certification, in opera pedagogy at the Unter den Linden opera outreach program in Berlin, Germany, funded by the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst. She holds an M.A. in Theatre, an M.M. in vocal performance, and an M.F.A. in Drama/Theatre for the Young. She is currently an adjunct lecturer for voice and articulation and for a course in drama and play in human experience at Eastern Michigan University in the Communications, Media & Theatre Arts Department. She also teaches private singing lessons and directs the Drama Club at Slauson Middle School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.