Some people seem to have a problem with the fact that there’s an opera singer singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. People like this guy, (who’s he?) and this guy, who calls himself a reporter and should know better. So here are several pieces of information you should know about opera before you see Renee Fleming belt out the national anthem Sunday.
1. Yes, opera singers can sing louder and higher than what you’re used to hearing, and that doesn’t make opera suck. Just the opposite actually. Most pop singers have a range of less than an octave — that’s eight notes. Some have a bit more, but pop singers tend to sing in the same range they speak in, while opera singers sing in that range as well as a bunch more notes. Why? Opera has always been written as an art form that is used to showcase the full capacity of what the human voice can accomplish, which means being able to stretch the vocal chords to sing ALL OF THE NOTES without any amplification — which is why opera singers have to study their craft for years and years before they can work professionally. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Opera singers have to train for years and then always have to work their butts off. So, you know how when you go to a sporting event or an amusement park or even a bar and you scream for a couple of hours and the next day your voice is all hoarse? This is what opera singers spend all those years learning how not to have that happen to them. We basically learn how to stretch our ranges to larger than that of our speaking voices the same way athletes learn how to high jump or turn a single spin into a quadruple axel — by practicing every day for many years. We also teach our insides how to breath so well that we can send that sound out to as many as 4,000 people without any microphones. We also study languages, movement, acting, music history, music theory and a bunch of other stuff that I won’t bore you with right now. But suffice it to say, Opera is a job that requires multitasking. We’re not a bunch of dopes who scream.
3. The actual operas we sing were composed from around the 1600s all the way until this very moment, so they are incredibly varied. I think a lot of people who don’t know much about opera think of one of three things: people with horns singing loudly, Bugs Bunny or maybe somebody like Andrea Bocelli or more recently Il Divo. Opera as an art form is actually quite alive, even though the cannon spans back to way into olden times. A lot of people I have run into don’t realize two things: Even if the music for an opera is really old (or sometimes just kinda old) …read more
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