Meryl Streep: What makes a truly great singer?

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music, Sunday 1 May 2016, 9pm. The three-time Oscar winner chats with Catherine Bott about their favourite singers.

Catherine Bott Meryl Streep

In a very special edition of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Classical Music , Catherine Bott meets the acclaimed, multi-award winning actress Meryl Streep to tackle the question, "What makes a truly great singer?"

LISTEN: Meryl Streep's guide to being an opera diva >

In her latest film, Meryl plays possibly the worst opera singer ever – Florence Foster Jenkins. She tells Catherine how she prepared for the role.

Both Meryl and Catherine are trained singers; they discuss what sets their favourite sopranos, including Renée Fleming and Jessye Norman, apart from the rest, and choose their favourite recordings.

GALLERY: Florence Foster Jenkins - red carpet premiere >

Among the highlights in tonight's show:

Florence Foster Jenkins and Meryl Streep (as Florence) sing the Queen of the Night's aria from The Magic Flute by Mozart, and then we hear how it should be sung by Patricia Petibon.
Natalie Dessay sings 'The Bell Song' from Lakmé by Delibes
Renée Fleming and Susan Graham sing the 'Flower Duet' from Lakmé by Delibes
Meryl Streep (as Florence Foster Jenkins) and Lesley Garrett sing 'Adele’s Laughing Song' from Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II
Jessye Norman sings Sunset from Four Last Songs by Richrad Strauss
Joyce DiDonato sings 'Life Upon the Wicked Stage' by Jerome Kern
Judi Dench sings 'Send in the Clowns' from A Little Night Music by Sondheim
Joan Sutherland sings ‘Sempre Libera ’ from La Traviata by Verdi

and Meryl Streep particularly loves this version of 'Vissi d'Arte' from Puccini's Tosca, sung by Maria Callas: