Opera has been inspiring people for ages. It is still a celebrated art form that is more accessible than ever. The combination of singing, acting, extraordinary vocal skills, and theatrical setting can powerfully convey emotions.
Opera singing is also considered one of the hardest singing styles, and it can be quite a challenge even for talented singers.
To learn singing opera, especially for someone not familiar with it yet, can indeed be a long journey, but definitely the one worth taking.
Once you get familiar with the classical singing technique and develop opera singing skills, you will expand your vocal range and make your voice flexible, so any other singing style will become simpler to master.
Several steps are crucial for you to learn to be able to sing opera, and we explained them for you in this article.
Now, why not take on a challenge?
Can Anyone Sing Opera?
Yes! In fact, anyone who has a passion for singing and is eager to put enough effort into learning how to sing opera can indeed do it. However, not anyone can sing opera well, meaning that being a professional opera singer is another thing entirely.
Opera singing is quite different than other popular singing styles, and it requires strong stamina and perfect singing fundamentals.
To be an opera singer, you basically need to be able to create your “inner microphone” vocal technique and learn to sing louder than the orchestra. To amplify your voice in such a way, having a natural talent for music and singing is, of course, a huge advantage.
However, it is not enough – you need to have proper lessons with the right teacher and training, continuous vocal practice, and utilize your talent in learning opera if you want your voice to be fit for opera singing.
To master opera singing, natural talent matters, but you certainly need to dedicate a lot of time to practice.
What Is Opera Singing?
Except for being able to produce a powerful vocal range that is enough to reach every part of the large opera house without a microphone, there are many other differences in opera singing and other music genres.
Opera is, in fact, a theatre genre – singers and musicians combine text (libretto) and musical score, most often in a theatrical setting. An opera singer has to both act and sing, as well as incorporate a strong expression and characterization to achieve emotional impact.
Even though opera is a part of Western classical music tradition, opera singing is different than classical singing. Classical singing is much more inclusive, and it’s usually referred to lighter and more subtle music performed in smaller venues.
So, classical singers can perform opera, but not necessarily.
However, opera is based on the classical singing technique. While many other music genres use it, it differs from contemporary vocal techniques, but we will come back to this later.
Also, the lifestyle of a professional opera singer can be as demanding as its singing technique. That’s another thing to consider when thinking about opera as a career path.
All professional musicians are constantly on the road, and it’s no different in the world of opera. You have to be able to adjust to new places, have continuous rehearsals with new people, and dedicate your life to music.
Learning To Sing Opera
As we already made clear, opera singing requires a significant amount of skill, which might be quite challenging for beginners.
However, you always have to start somewhere, and we have some useful steps and tips for learning how to become a part of this historical form of art:
1) Master the Basics
An excellent singing foundation is essential in learning how to sing opera. There are many exercises for the improvement of your singing skills, and you need to put some effort into getting to know your voice and learning how to practice efficiently.
Since you will rely on your head-voice a lot, you should know how to recognize it and enhance it.
You should always pay attention to your breathing, be aware of your diaphragm, and take care of your vocal cords properly during your practice and performances.
Also, learning how to sing high notes is very important before you emerge in opera singing lessons. Once you’re confident of your voice, you’re ready to start with more challenging steps!
2) Take Opera Lessons
While there are many vocal exercises you can take by yourself, the problem is no one has really created an online course strictly for opera singers. For operatic singing, it is best to hire a vocal coach.
That way, you will not only learn the technique but also learn to read sheet music and define your voice type (Bel Canto, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Soprano, or Tenor.)
The right teacher will also pinpoint your difficulties and help you work on them, which is often harder when you’re practicing alone.
Classical voice training can be beneficial for you in many ways. By learning how to use breath support and expanding your vocal range with regular practice, you will develop vocal flexibility and bring your vocal skills to a completely new level.
After learning the classical technique, you will get the foundation for any style of singing.
3) Keep Practicing
Apart from vocal warm-up and breathing exercises, your instructor will make you pay attention to your diaphragm – that’s the key to supporting the airflow so that the note you sing lasts longer.
Another thing that you will do in your opera lessons for beginners is to become aware of the resonance of your voice. Your whole body is a resonating chamber, just like the guitar’s hollow body amplifies the sound created by its vibrating strings.
You should try to feel the resonance in your teeth, chest, cartilage, and the rest of your body, and keep it there – you will hear how your voice doesn’t get cut off and, with time, become more powerful.
Also, you need to pay attention to the expression. Opera singers convey emotions in a very intense way, and you don’t have to be a great actor to be good at it, but you need to work on your diction, facial expressions, and confidence.
All of that creates a strong charisma that none of the most famous opera talents lack.
One of the most popular opera styles is bel canto (“beautiful singing“ in Italian). It is often used by male opera singers and tenors, but it can be a good starting technique as well. This style combines both head-voice and chest-voice, so you will learn how to balance it perfectly.
4) Do the extra work
If you want to bring your operatic skills to a professional level, you need to put extra energy into studying language and classical music.
Operas are usually sung in foreign languages such as Italian and German. Although you’re not expected to become a fluent speaker, you have to learn at least basic diction, phonetics, and vocabulary. That’s the only way to sing most famous operas as they’re meant to be sung.
Also, by getting to know the language, you will understand the piece you’re dealing with better. Opera is theatre, so understanding your character and lyrics is the only way to express intense emotions through your voice.
Getting familiar with classical art and music is another way to delve deeper into the world of opera. Apart from listening to (and singing) classical songs, you can watch performances of the best opera singers.
Notice how Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Maria Callas do it and get inspired!
Opera Singing Tips
Like any other craft, opera singing requires a lot of dedication, practice, and some fine-tuning. You should hire a reliable vocal coach and fulfill your assignments regularly, and keep practicing your basic vocal skills daily. There is always room for improvement in your performance.
There are a few more elements that you need to focus on, and one of them is practicing your vibrato. A well-controlled vibrato is always a key to a beautiful voice, and learning how to release the right amount of air and pressure is the way to do it.
Another thing that is crucial for professional singers is finding their timbre. Timbre is a unique quality in every voice, and it’s what makes each opera singer distinctive and recognizable.
Remember – you can do wonders with your voice and fully grow as a singer only when you embrace your own individual sound. It’s also of great importance to maintain your vocal health. You can do that by knowing when to stop when you practice.
Opera singing is very demanding in performing for your body and vocal cords especially singing high notes, and you need to be cautious of the potential damage. If you overdo it, you can strain your vocal cords, so whenever you feel any pain or discomfort in your throat, you should take a break.
Vocal health is important in any singing style, and especially in the ones that are so complex and challenging. If you take care of your vocal cords and nurture your body, be sure that your voice will be grateful.
Practice, practice, practice!
We know we mentioned this several times, but sometimes it’s good to get reminded that the key to success really is in persistent and hard-working hands.
Once you understand how opera singing techniques work, educate yourself about the genre and establish a daily practicing routine, you will start to see the results in no time.
Perhaps you will not end up on the stage of Royal Opera House or Teatro Alla Scala (although life can surprise you), but why not imagine you’re there during your opera lessons?
Learning operatic singing can be extremely beneficial for your overall vocal skills, and you will be able to master any other singing style more easily afterward.
In the end, you can’t know what you’re capable of until you try it, so bringing an interesting challenge to your voice can only do you good and get you to a new place in your singing.
If you find learning to sing by yourself tricky, hiring a vocal coach might better suit your needs, or more simply, why not consider online singing lessons?
We’ve compared and reviewed the best online singing lessons that you should check out.