Two Vocal Styles, the Same Singer

Here I’ve included two videos of soprano Renee Fleming.  The first is Fleming singing Liu’s aria from Puccini’s Turandot and the second is a clip from her new Indie record, Dark Hope.   These recordings highlight a distinctive difference in vocal styles. 

What are the characteristics of classical singing as opposed to a pop sound?  To quote pedagogue Richard Miller,  “Classical vocalism, as practiced in the international historic school of singing, is based on freedom of production and on certain acoustic properties of the singing voice associated  with functional efficiency.”  (On the Art of Singing, page 100)  In the first clip of the aria “Tu che di gel sei cinta” you’ll hear Fleming use a range of colors and dynamic levels and a consistent vibrato throughout.  You’ll hear legato – one note bound to the next in a contiguous fashion – and a wide vocal range from very high to very low pitches.  Fleming can project her voice in a large theatre for several hours without the aid of a microphone. 

In the second clip from Fleming’s Indie record there is a very limited collection of pitches sung in a low range and very little vibrato.  Which sound do you prefer and why would an internationally acclaimed opera diva venture into the world of pop music?

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