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opera

via Merkur.de

MRI image of an opera singer, singing.

A great opera voice is a learned art, not a natural-born gift like other styles of singing. It takes discipline, physical training, and to truly wow the audience, the performer must be a great actor and athlete as well.

"Singing opera is to ordinary vocal activity what distance running, triple-jumping and pole-vaulting are to ordinary exercise," said Sir Antonio Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera House wrote for the BBC. "Which means that singers and, almost as important, those who teach them are locked in the same kinds of relationship that obtain between elite athletes and charismatic coaches."


So what goes on inside of the head and throat of an opera singer while they perform?

German baritone Michael Volle performed "Song to the Evening Star" by German composer Richard Wagner while inside of an MRI scan to give people a never-before-seen look at how an opera singer produces such a haunting sound. It's a pretty freaky-looking image, but shows the amazing control these performers must have to hit such powerful notes.

This article originally appeared on 05.05.16

LAPD

A homeless woman in Los Angeles has found overnight fame after a police officer shared video of her singing opera in the subway station.

Struck by her incredible voice, the officer recorded the talented 52-year-old at the Wilshire and Normandie Purple Line station, according to Good News Network, and uploaded it to Twitter where it quickly became a viral sensation.

"4 million people call LA home. 4 million stories. 4 million voices...sometimes you just have to stop and listen to one, to hear something beautiful," the LAPD wrote.

The woman, who has since been identified as Emily Zamourka, can be heard belting out a beautiful rendition of Puccini Aria on the platform. Surprisingly, she's had no formal vocal training, but is a classically trained pianist and violinist, ABC 7 reports.


RELATED: A tragically beautiful video captures Parisians singing hymns as they watch Notre Dame burn

"You know why I do it in the subway is because it sounds so great," she told reporters.

Zamourka used to play her violin around the city to make money until someone stole the $10,000 instrument three years ago. After a serious health challenge and the financial setback, she ended up on the street.

"That's when I became homeless when I could not actually pay any of my bills and could not pay any more of my rent…I am sleeping on carboard right now in a parking lot," she said.

She was surprised to find out the video of her had become so popular and told reporters she just wants to return to playing her music so she can get back on her feet.

"I will be so grateful to anyone who is trying to help me get off the streets and to have my own place and my instrument," Zamourka said.

Many locals commented on the video, sharing their own stories of interactions with Zamourka.

RELATED: When someone on the street asks you for money, what's your answer? This app can help.

"I've seen her for years on the Metro. I heard her once singing 'Ave Maria' and thought it was a radio at first. Everyone has a story...this woman does too. I don't know why she's been homeless all these years, but she's a human being...that's all that matters," one person wrote.

"She's from Glendale. She loves animals and sings Like a Bird. She is multi-talented and very friendly and kind. Her name is Emily," another person wrote.

Others, however, took the video as a chance to call out the homelessness crisis in Southern California.

Currently, there are more than 58,900 Angeleños experiencing homelessness, according to CNN. The situation is so bad, some officials are calling for it to be declared a state of emergency.

"La Bohème" is the popular opera that inspired the Broadway musical "Rent."

It's an awesome show about artists and dreamers who, despite their noble and lofty aspirations to bring beauty into the world, still struggle to make ends meet. They're rich in passion and their love for life — but unfortunately, that creative zeal doesn't pay the rent or the other bills they rack up.

It's the classic "starving artist" trope.


But the characters in these stories could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they'd just followed in the footsteps of another great melodious master: Keanon Kyles.

All photos via ABC7 News.

Who is Keanon Kyles? He's a janitor at ABC7's studios in Chicago. And he's also Colline in an upcoming Scottish opera production of "La Bohème."

"I am the only American chosen for the opera," he told ABC News. "Everyone else is from overseas, so I go there feeling as if I'm representing a nation."

This isn't the first time Kyles' tremendous voice has carried him overseas either.

Kyles grew up on Chicago's South Side, and he started singing seriously when he was just 8 years old.

He definitely got more than a little flak for being the rare young black guy who's really into opera. But he never let the ribbing bring him down and ended up earning a degree in classical voice performance from Columbia College.

In 2015, he flew to Italy to perform at the Trentino Music Festival, and he's also appeared on professional stages all across Chicago.

And yeah, he's also a janitor. But that's not even his only job.

Between his work at ABC7, his vocal coaching classes, and his job at a department store, Kyles often works up to 90 hours a week.

That doesn't even include the time he spends rehearsing. But he says that's just the cost of creating great art to give to the world. (Plus the night shifts give him lots of quiet time to practice while he works.)

"It's a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of long days," he said in an interview with ABC News. "But it all pays off with the music because you get to do what you love: music."


As the characters in "La Bohème" demonstrate, sometimes art doesn't pay the bills.

When Kyles returns from his memorable Scottish excursion at the end of the summer, he's planning to go right back to his maintenance work at ABC7.

He's living proof that success isn't just a one-off deal. Often there's no real payoff without a little perseverance and a lot of hard work.

Money helps us feed ourselves, which is certainly important. But money doesn't feed our souls, and often our art matters just as much.

And that's why Kyles is an awesome example for us all.

Here's a video of Kyles performing in Italy last year. Break a leg in Scotland, Keanon!