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Barbara Hendricks

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If beauty were just in the ear of the beholder, Hendricks, possessor of a crystalline soprano voice, would grace the cover of every audiophile magazine. But the world-renowned diva—a favorite of the late Austrian maestro Herbert von Karajan—also boasts the elegant features and lithe frame that would make William Tell everybody.

The Methodist minister’s daughter from Stephens, Ark., now living with her husband and two children in Switzerland, has had 43 years to think about face value: “You like tea, I like coffee—if there were just one definition of beauty, then the rest of us could stay home,” she says. “When I was little, I thought Lena Home was one of the most beautiful people. She still is. I also think the life that’s in a face gives beauty to it, like Lauren Bacall or Katharine Hepburn or Marian Anderson. But the concern with physical beauty is, in the end, searching for love. People are seldom loved because they have a perfect nose. When a man tells me I’m beautiful, I enjoy it. Then I wait for him to say, ‘And you’re so intelligent….’ ”