A professional soprano’s view on 14-year-old Laura Bretan’s operatic technique

We asked a top soprano just what is going on with Laura Bretan's voice.

Laura Bretan Catherine Bott

After several operatic performances in the current season of America's Got Talent, singers and vocal technicians around the world have expressed strong concerns about the young soprano's choice of repertoire and vocal technique. 

Opera singer Heidi Moss wrote an open letter to the young singer, saying: “True classical training takes years of hard work, and forcing a sound that isn’t truly your own is dangerous. Over time, the irritation of singing that way can cause swelling or even worse, nodes or popped vessels.”

We asked soprano, vocal specialist and Classic FM presenter Catherine Bott to listen to Bretan's latest performance of Puccini's 'O Mio Babbino Caro'. Here's what she said:

“It’s one of the greatest melodies ever written but when it’s used in a talent competition, we lose the point of it. It’s about a spoilt girl weedling to get what she wants out of her daddy, and actually threatening to kill herself.

In that performance, we don’t get any of the words or the meaning. If you want to sing a beautiful aria like that and have your audience whooping as if you’ve scored a goal in a football match at every other phrase, be my guest, but until you can sing it without a microphone it’s not really Puccini.

If she wanted to have a long term career she should do as Mirella Freni did when she was 11. She won a competition and the prize was to sing for the great tenor Beniamino Gigli who told her, ‘That was very nice. Now if you promise me not to sing or have any lessons till you’re 16, you will have a career.’

The singing is overblown, so wobbly, without any real core to the sound. What we want to hear from a 14 year old is innocence not overblown emotion.”

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