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The first movie theme sung by an opera diva in 20 years?

That’s what composer Alexandre Desplat says of Renee Fleming’s track for Rise of the Guardians, Slipped Disc sixth single of the season.

Could it really be that long since a big soprano last sang a movie track? Help us out, please, dear readers.

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  1. Christopher Cull says:


  2. Christopher Cull says:

    Kathleen Battle Memoirs of a Geisha Soundtrack

    • which year?

      • Norman,

        According to Wikipedia, the song Lovers sung by Kathleen Battle was the title song to the Chinese Language movie House of Hidden Daggers in 2004. The movie had a limited release in countries outside of China. It was then re-used on the Chinese movie Memoirs of a Geisha a year later. (I was incorrect about this point in my previous comment.)

        I suppose Desplat could be correct in one sense, since this was not a Western movie and received only limited release. Conversely, it was a title song of a movie released, at whatever level, in the West.

        Nevertheless, it seems clear, thanks to the superb knowledge on this thread, that “Still Dream” is almost certainly the only Hollywood, or European, movie title theme sung by a major soprano in recent years.

        I wonder, then, if this is something new or whether it has always been uncommon for opera sopranos to sing film titles? Prior to the 1992 time period, was this something that was done more often? Or has nothing changed?

        And what was the movie title 20 years ago? To what song was Desplat referring? Is it possible that this is actually more uncommon than even Desplat suggested?

  3. I think also that both Renee Fleming and Isabel Bayrakdarian appeared on the various soundtracks of the Lord of the Rings films.

  4. Beautiful song, magnificant orchestration by Conrad Pope. Inspired by the following performance I have no doubt:
    Doesn’t get much better that this :):) added bonus to hear the China Philharmonic play like the best of Hollywood session players. Who would have thought 20 years ago that Chinese musicians could deliver this, how many European orchestras can conquer the style.

  5. Christopher, I think he meant to say a “Title Movie Soundtrack ” !

  6. Eric Benjamin says:

    Well, Desplat/Pope and Fleming have combined to punch me right in the heart on a grim Saturday afternoon. Thanks for sharing, Norman.

  7. Ross Amico says:

    Barbara Bonney performs a vocalise in the theme to Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.” (2001). Fleming also appears on the soundtrack to “The Adventures of Tintin” (but doesn’t sing the theme).

  8. Fleming sung “Twilight and Shadow” and “The End of All Things” for Lord of The Rings.

  9. Brian Bell says:

    Indeed, Isobel Bayrakdarian, can be heard in The Two Towers (2002)
    and the Return of the King (2004) presented Renee Fleming.
    Also, Fantasia 2000 brings you Kathleen Battle (at the close of the Elgar Pomp and Circumstance / Donald
    Duck /Noah’s Ark segment).
    Though none of these, it could be argued, are front and center in the “title track”, all of them are prominently
    featured in each of the mentioned films.
    There must be more, no?

  10. Clarissa Smid says:

    that amazing soprano who sang from La Sonnambula in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element (not counting the auto tune bits)?

    • Do you mean “Il dolce suono” from Lucia di Lammermoor (Gaetano Donizetti)? It was performed by the great soprano Inva Mula and the London Symphony Orchestra.

  11. I suspect the key term used is “theme.” Perhaps the title song that is used to promote the movie?

    The Lord of the Rings tracks were not themes, nor was the Battle song, I believe. I am unaware of the status of the others mentioned here.

    Thank you Norman for this wonderful thread which has led to so much beautiful music.

  12. Dean Wiliams says:

    Th eFifth Element had a scene that was very prominent in th efilm that was sung by a soprano. A part of this scene was often used in the promotional trailers for the film.
    From Wiki:

    The Diva Dance opera performance featured music from Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor: “Il dolce suono”, the mad scene of Act II, Scene 2, and was sung by Albanian soprano Inva Mula, while the role of Plavalaguna was played by French actress Maïwenn Le Besco. Part One (titled Lucia di Lammermoor) and Part Two (titled The Diva Dance) of this piece are included as separate tracks on The Fifth Element soundtrack, but are sequenced to create the effect of the entire performance seen in the film. The end of Part One blends into the beginning of Part Two, creating a smooth transition between the two tracks.

  13. well, if we’re stretching the topic away from theme songs (which, after all, often appear during the end credits or mid-way through, since directors know that audiences want to get into the film ASAP), let’s not forget the pivotal scene in “Philadelphia,” where Tom Hanks guides a stunned Denzel Washington through Callas’ rendition of “La Momma morta.” I can’t think of another moment where the power and beauty of opera is given such a spotlight.

  14. Guys, Desplat is referring to the “MAIN TITLE” song of the movie!! Not opera arias IN the movie or as the “End Title!!” :)

  15. Roberto Gonzalez says:

    Sorry, did not see someone had already posted the Barbara Bonney credit… Never mind… LOL

  16. Chen Reiss is featured heavily in many of the key themes in “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”, recorded by Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle. Not sure whether that qualifies “the” movie theme of the film, but certainly it shouldn’t be ignored.

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