Opera singers are commonly referred to as vocal athletes in the music industry, and they deserve the title rightfully so. Opera singers rely entirely on their bodies to deliver high-pitch volume levels in orchestra houses without any assistance from instruments. If you are setting your foot into the opera world and don’t know where to begin, this short guide on how to sing opera will help initiate your journey.
The Fundamentals of Opera
There are two basic ingredients in learning to sing opera: power and high notes. You should start your opera practice by focusing on singing with power and mastering your high notes.
But don’t do it blindly. While aiming for high notes recklessly, many singers damage their vocal cords since their throat tissues are not ready for it or not flexible enough. Similarly, with the incorrect use of power, you might apply too much force and pressure, which might lead to inflammation.
That leads us to the question, how can you get that power and master high notes without risking your throat tissues? For a reliable foundation of your voice, you should practice the “BA” exercise to make your voice powerful by keeping your chords closed.
Aside from the “BA” exercise, there are many other exercises for a powerful voice, such as:
You should sign up for a course or take professional classes to master high notes and sing with power. Once you familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of singing, you can move to the next stage of honing opera skills.
How to Sing Opera
Here are five tips you must know to master opera:
1. Search for a Professional Coach
It is pivotal that you search for a perfect opera teacher, who is professional and guides you throughout the journey. A professional must possess strong knowledge of different opera techniques and has studied themselves from reputable opera teachers.
Finding yourself the right teacher depends on many factors, such as:
- How serious are you towards the subject?
- What are your career aspirations?
- How much is your budget?
- What is your current skill level?
Suppose you are into opera as a hobby or part-time job, you can easily find online opera tutors or professionals.
These tutors have flexible timetables to assist your schedule so that you can begin with the learning process. Whereas if you want to base your career on opera for full-time, you need to choose a coach carefully.
Ideally, such professionals must have learned basics from industry experts and continue to take master classes to improve their skill set. These professionals are tough to find and are very selective regarding which students to choose for training.
So be ready to leave a great first impression, leaving these coaches with no choice but to consider you.
2. Practice Consistently
In opera, you need to practice all your life, only to reach a level that is still far from perfection. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, opera demands regular practice from its vocalists.
Be sure you are ready to invest your time, energy, and stamina when entering the operatic world. Opera is known as one of the most challenging singing styles in the world, admittedly for a reason.
Besides your regular scheduled training, you should also invest in some vocal exercise books to expand your singing techniques and styles. Even though there is no set number of hours a vocalist should practice, you should begin with a structured plan and specific targets attached to each week.
With a clear plan in mind, you will have a concrete grasp of where you will be standing within the next few days, weeks, or even months.
Ensure you know what areas you want to improve and which areas you want to discover while structuring the plan. It is also vital that you do not go overboard while practicing opera because it can damage your vocal cords or strain your voice.
You must know all the potential signals your body may give to stop practicing, and give your mind and body rest, to regain its strength.
3. Learn and Observe the Best Vocalists
To learn how to sing opera, especially if you're a beginner, you should focus on observing techniques and styles famous opera singers implement in their songs.
If you are familiar with opera, chances are you already know of the biggest industry names famous for their consistency, high pitch, and techniques. Here are some names of the celebrities who shocked the world with their vocal capabilities:
- Faustina Bordoni
- Cecilia Bartoli
- Montserrat Caballé
- Maria Callas
- Diana Damrau
- Renée Fleming
These opera singers gained popularity just because of their extraordinary voices and peculiar techniques, which made them stand out from the crowd.
As a beginner, you should carefully watch these singers and learn how they managed their way to perfection. You should also look for current trends in the opera industry, and see how you can infuse your unique style with the traditional opera techniques.
Names like Josh Groban and Sarah Brightman are renowned for their pop operatic capabilities, so you should also learn about their tactics and watch their interviews.
4. Stay Fit and Healthy
Like a guitarist maintains their guitar regularly for its smooth functioning, opera singers need to take care of their health, diet, and stamina zealously. Since opera singers have to perform in front of a full orchestra house without any microphone for longer durations, they need a healthy, fulfilling meal.
Here are some health tips that opera singers follow religiously:
- Have an exercise regimen
- Perform yoga as it improves breathing
- Get plenty of sleep and rest
- Stay hydrated and maintain a healthy diet
- Avoid excessive intake of dairy and caffeine as it leads to mucus buildup
Here are some edibles known to keep you and your vocal cords healthy and strong:
- Fresh Fruits
Juicy fruits contain vitamins and nutrients that help your body absorb vital nutrients and keep you energized for more extended periods.
Foods like chicken or fish are lean sources of proteins, so they keep you full, burn longer, and protect your vocal cords from unnecessary fats and oils.
Honey is essential for keeping your throat free from bugs and protects you from severe throat aches. You should consume honey with water or decaf tea before your shows and right after a long show to soothe any vocal strain.
A demulcent can be anything that coats your mucus membrane with a soothing film to reduce any throat infections or inflammations. The most common demulcent available is licorice roots, which form a shielding layer over your throat tissues, making them more flexible and in good shape.
5. Learn New Languages
Unlike other forms of music, opera requires its vocalist to have a strong command over other languages, such as Italian, German, French, and Russian.
It is crucial to sing opera songs in their original languages, so you should take online courses or scheduled classes to learn these languages. Learning these languages will help you improve your singing style and gain more knowledge about their art.
It will also help you cross any communication barrier you might face once you start performing in other countries. A common challenge opera singers face is shifting from American vowels to “bel canto” vowels.
That’s why you need an excellent opera teacher for mastering the vowel technique. Singing opera songs is not everyone’s cup of tea; you need to make continuous and persistent efforts to stay on top and reach perfection.
It would be best to allocate time to learning languages, traditions, and cultures of the countries you want to sing opera songs of.
Becoming an Opera Singer
Learning opera is challenging, but if you stay devoted, committed, and patient, the results will be worthwhile. It would help if you also promote yourself on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to gain support and feedback.
Being an opera singer requires education, a strong will to improve, and a support team to help you reach your dreams. With a lot of dedication and hard work, you could even make it your career.