opera singer beverly sills bel canto By Amanda Nisenson, Opera Singer and  LuxEco Advocate

The night before I was born, my mother was reading an article about Beverly Sills, (May 25, 1929 – July 2, 2007) the famous opera singer who performed for huge audiences around the world. My Great Aunt used to brag about how she knew Beverly Sills growing up in Brooklyn, and how much she enjoyed being friends with “Bubbles,” as Ms. Sills was called then. The article continued to explain that this nickname was given to her because she was born with Bubbles in her mouth.

The next day, June 17th was the day that I came into the world, and to my mother’s great surprise, I was born with Bubbles in my mouth. She could not believe the coincidence, and announced to the doctor that I would become a singer! Years later, shortly before Beverly Sills died, my mother had the great fortune to meet the legendary singer, and actually got the opportunity to ask in person, if she did indeed know my Great Aunt. After a questionable pause, Ms. Sills burst out laughing in recollection of this zany character from her childhood.

Beverly Sills’ career,  personal fortitude, and strength during her lifetime, always inspired me. She gave so much to the world of music, and devoted herself to charitable organizations. She understood suffering and pain, and watched as her children struggled through their own illnesses. She had a great heart and smiled with beautiful light in her eyes.

Once again, I am reminded of her influence as I begin to explore my new path in the world of performance. Beverly Sills was considered a Bel Canto (pronounced Conto) singer. The term literally means beautiful singing in Italian and refers to a series of specific technical accomplishments.  Among them are: impeccable legato (connected) tone throughout the vocal range, complete mastery of breath control, an agile flexible technique, and the use of a light tone in the higher registers. Ms. Sills truly transcended the Bel Canto technique to reach the “true purpose” of singing, as stated by Clara Kathleen Rogers. Ms. Rogers wrote The Philosophy of Singing back in 1893, which stated that “the true purpose of singing is to give utterance to certain hidden depths in our nature, which can be adequately expressed in no other way.” The voice is the only vehicle perfectly adapted to this purpose. It alone can reveal our innermost feelings because it is our only direct means of expression. If the human voice can reveal to us our own hidden depths and convey those depths to the souls of mankind, it is because the voice, more than any other instrument of expression, vibrates directly to the feeling itself, and therefore, completes its natural mission.
My belief in pursuing the Bel Canto approach, is what drives me to make music everyday. I am now in the midst of  creating  a new style of singing which I like to call “Bel Canto Pop!” Haven’t we all heard enough of enhanced technologically produced pop music? For those of us who are seeking a path back to the real voice, I am proposing a fusion of classical technique with the sound of now. This is an experience of pure feeling and emotion that resonates with a culture seeking some sort of peace of mind. It’s my own style, my own brand and my own expression. I invite you to listen and let me know what you think. Hopefully in the near future,  there will be many  who would like to help get this concept out there.

For artists who want to create new genres of music, there is no familiar path as there is for someone who wants to be a doctor or a lawyer.  As I search and pray for opportunities to get my bel canto pop concept out to the world, I will keep on envisioning  my goals and dreams of living through this music.  It’s the idea of melody and voice coming together with instruments that creates the magic of living in the moment.

I will forever be thankful  and inspired by Beverly Sills and her  “Bel Canto” (beautiful singing). I will do my part in always keeping the artform   alive in order to remind us that the voice is the connection to the soul.  Without its artistic expression, our ultimate fulfillment cannot be achieved.


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