06/18/2010 01:14 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

OPERA: Pop Critic Takes On The 'Ring'

"Singing is physical elasticity, nothing else," wrote the German vocal teacher Franzisca Martienssen-Lohmann in 1923. Her description was prosaic, meant to remind vocalists that limbering up is a key to preserving their instrument. Yet the phrase "physical elasticity" also has a poetic ring, getting at the magic of great singing, which is clearly a bodily act, but seems to bend beyond normal human limit.

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