Driving home from work today, listening to NPR, I heard the announcement of the death of Magda Olivero, an Italian opera singer who was 104 years old. Her style embraced a mega vibrato combined with a powerful breath control which allowed “Olivero to do things like floating dreamy, gossamer-thin tones up to the rafters,” as the NPR story reported. Even when she was 83 years old, at 3:45 of the video above, her control is unbelievable. Renee Fleming is enamored of her virtuosity and visited the singer when Olivero was 94 years old. “She is such an inspiration,” Fleming says, “beautiful, funny, a great raconteur. She gave me a breathing lesson. She had me feeling how she breathes, how she supports, and let me tell you, her abdominal wall is stronger than mine. Rude awakening.”
When I got home I googled her music. There are over 200 videos of her singing. There is even a video of her singing at 100 years old. Here’s to the power of art to transcend age and transport us all. Here’s to the good fortune of a longevity in good health and well-spent.