SALT LAKE CITY — Just two months ago, 14-year-old ventriloquist and “America’s Got Talent” champion Darci Lynne Farmer brought her eclectic puppets to Utah.
Oscar, the soulful, stuttering mouse, sang Motown tunes to a packed Eccles Theater. The grouchy old lady Edna Doorknocker entertained the Salt Lake crowd with her sassy remarks and the cowgirl Katie impressed people with her high-speed yodeling.
But the show-stopping moment of the night came from the diva rabbit Petunia, who gracefully belted “O Mio Babbino Caro” from the Italian opera “Gianni Schicchi.” All the while, Darci’s lips remained unmoved.
That performance got the wildest applause from the Utah audience, and that was the performance Darci chose to take with her on the finals of “AGT: The Champions,” which aired Feb. 11. Based on the audience and judges’ reactions, Darci couldn’t have made a better choice.
“Wow, wow, wow, Darci. I actually believe this for so many reasons is your best-ever performance you’ve ever given,” judge Simon Cowell told the ventriloquist following her performance. “It's good enough at your age to sing opera, but you’re doing it through a rabbit! I think you may win tonight.”
Judge Howie Mandel couldn’t believe Darci, who won “America’s Got Talent” in 2017 when she was 12, had kept her opera skills a secret for so long.
“It was truly amazing because we didn’t know you sing opera,” Mandel said. “You’ve gone through a whole season of ‘AGT’ and you still surprise!”
Darci’s journey on “AGT: The Champions” — a spinoff that brought 50 former champions and top contestants from the show together to compete — hasn’t been an easy one. Fans were surprised when the ventriloquist, whose initial “AGT” audition video with the rabbit Petunia has more than 53 million views on YouTube, got eliminated during the show’s second episode on Jan. 14, after just one performance.
But last week, “AGT: The Champions” announced it would bring back two wild cards to compete with the 10 other finalists on the show, and Darci made the cut along with Jon Dorenbos, a former NFL player-turned-magician. On last night’s episode, the ventriloquist from Oklahoma City competed against other popular “AGT” champions such as Susan Boyle and magician Shin Lim, who won last year’s season of “AGT.”
The winner of the competition, selected by a panel of superfans from 50 states, will be announced next Tuesday, Feb. 18. But no matter the outcome, through it all, the rabbit Petunia has been Darci’s good luck charm.
“When I (first) went on ‘AGT,’ she was this timid, really shy rabbit and really adorable,” Darci previously told the Deseret News. “And when we won, I changed her personality and now she’s a full-on diva and knows what she wants and knows how to get it.”