Out of this world

This song was written so that no human could sing it. Well, this human just NAILED it.

If you’ve seen The Fifth Element — and really, who hasn’t seen The Fifth Element — you’ll no doubt recall one of its truly iconic moments.

The curtains open on an intergalactic opera house, as a very non-human songstress gingerly steps towards the packed house.

Related: Isolated vocals from Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl performance have leaked and they’re amazing

Soothing stings and flutes set up the tune, which progresses from an aria from the Mad Scene in “Lucia di Lammermoor” operetta to some combination of alien funk rock opera.

It’s in that second movement where things really start to feel out of this world.

You can hear that version below:


Enter Jane Zhang, who by all accounts just did the impossible (OK, others have also sung the tune and maybe she misses a few notes but still let’s let her have her moment) and nailed the Diva Dance.

The whole thing is wildly impressive, but the real action gets going around the 3:30 mark:


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28 Comments

  • bbg372

    I do not know where the author gets the idea that the original is “heavily edited.” On home video, there is a feature about the making of the song, and the studio engineer goes to great lengths to show the vocals have not been manipulated. There are quite a number of people who have approximated the original vocals to varying degrees of success just to demonstrate that it in fact can be done. This woman is not the first, nor is she even the best.

  • Roan

    I’ve actually seen a few drag queens perform this song as well. And they were wearing the blue, skin tight latex dress and the head piece.

  • verbaltopman

    Sheesh, I can remember when gay men had an appreciation for opera — or when writers did a little research on their articles. First of all, the piece is not a “song”; it’s an aria. Second, the first section is not from a “melodic operetta”; it’s the Mad Scene from “Lucia di Lammermoor” by Donizetti, which is grand opera. Third, the music in the film then riffs on the aria, but is not anything a skilled coloratura soprano can handle — because (fourth), a coloratura DID sing it in the recording session for the film. What you hear on the film’s soundtrack is legit human singing — remember, the ghastly anti-artistic software known as Auto-Tune had mercifully not yet been invented.

    • mujerado

      No, auto-tune hadn’t been invented yet. That doesn’t mean the downward-skipping passage wasn’t electronically enhanced. It was, it just took longer to do then than it does with auto-tune. The soprano who did the aria did it exceedingly well, but when it came to the “riff” at the end, she got help.

    • Bryguyf69

      Not true. Autotune was released to the public in early 1997, as was this movie. But before that, the technology was already being used professionally, with some components hardware-based. You can be sure that Hollywood and music producers had access way before the public. Furthermore, Autotune was simply an automation of something sound engineers had been manually doing for over a decade. The ability to shape every note precisely was one of the major reasons for digital (as opposed to analogue) production and mastering, which started in the 80’s (old-timers may remember the DDD and ADD specs on CDs). So no, the soundtrack was not “legit human singing.” If you want to hear “legit human singing” with no electronic enhancement (including noise suppression), get a vinyl record from the 60’s and earlier. Once music gets transferred to CDs, it can no longer be considered unenhanced or unaltered.

  • Lindoro Almaviva

    3 words into the piece and i was already done. I have sung in Lucia at least twice (though I am not a Soprano) and can name at least 10 people who can do this on their sleep. Her name would not even make it to the top 100, not even the top 500

    • Bryguyf69

      @Lindoro Almaviva
      Oh really? I challenge you to name the 500 people you’ve heard perform this, or even the 100. I’m not saying that 500 people haven’t performed this but I challenge you to prove you’re qualified to make that “Top 500” statement. Or is it just bitter exaggeration?

      As for your performances, what’s the point? Prove your skills. Post it on Youtube. Or is it just another egomaniacal exaggeration?

      Finally, I challenge you to list those “10 people who can do this on their sleep.” As it happens, I work in neurophysiology right next to a sleep lab. If you can provide proof of this amazing skill, I will personally pay for their trip here to NYC for a sleep study. Furthermore, several of my colleagues are connected with the Met so I’ll make sure she/they gets wide publicity. Heck, I’ll pay them if they can sing Mary Had a Little Lamb operatically in their sleep.

      So do we have a deal? I look forward to your reply LOL

    • Countervail

      Bryguyf69, do us a favor and go to the opera once in a while. This is a challenging piece no doubt, but it’s surely not the hardest piece in the world and like LA says, any coloratura could make a reasonable stab at this.

      It’s a gimmicky piece. Interesting, but gimmicky. But hardly getting your knickers in a twist about. “Several of my colleagues are connected with the Met?” Like in the Young Associates Guild or something? Cause if any of them were singers they’d be snickering at you like the rest of us.

    • Nuadin

      Personally, I think both are impressive.

  • orrine

    Wasn’t it done like 100 times before? If anything, digital tinkering with singing in the movie made it seem like it’s impossible to sing. Meanwhile if you’ve ever listened anything besides trendy pop and hip hop, you would know opera sopranos are quite capable of strongly hitting high notes

  • anthony_osorio

    Pretty sure Inva Mula was human. ?

  • Bryguyf69

    Great performance. And I loved the hair and gown. Both understated but perfect for her.

  • arcoarconcio_passivy

    No it´s Beautifly TeattherInConseert Music Opera Galaxy Star Planet Blue University ! Loooking Spicy It´s The Live E.T´s ! Jpan Girls Music HongKong Tuor Summer Club Trans Genirus Sex is LGBTT Orientt´s . Americam is DonaldTurmpObamma is People .

  • Eiswirth

    If anyone truly cares to hear what the mad scene from Lucia actually sounds like when sung by the greatest coloratura soprano of all time — Joan Sutherland — just go to YouTube and look for Lucia-Mad Scene- Joan Sutherland-1959-1969 and several live and recorded versions will pop up.

  • PipMeister

    Shame on you all for not knowing it was Sarah Brightman who sung the aria in the movie. She has also performed it several times in the 90s and in a special event in London where they backed her up with the music from the movie.

    • Nathan15

      OMG. How embarrassing for you that you think it was Sarah Brightman. I guess karma is a bitch.

  • darren michaels

    I find it most astounding.. No matter how unkind, gay men will argue and debate a point to death and never consider offering even the slightest accolades to the individuals who they argue against. Right or wrong, the woman featured achieves what
    many cannot and a few bitchy men attempting to scratch the faces of others to make a point is what appears to be one singular reaction that ties all of humanity together I is suggested or not, she makes a considerable effort of which is deserving

    • darren michaels

      (without the few extra words at the end:)
      I find it most astounding.. No matter how unkind, gay men will argue and debate a point to death and never consider offering even the slightest accolades to the individuals they argue against. Right or wrong, the woman featured achieves what
      many cannot and she deserves praise all her own. It is however a few bitchy men attempting to scratch the faces of others to make a point and their unfortunate reaction that continues to tie all of humanity together (advances of social media in fact lead us backwards).

  • femonanon

    I believe that “soothing stings” is an oxymoron. Proofread much?

  • billyemil_marcial

    Vitas – Il Dolce Suono. From Lucia di Lammermoor
    Vitas a male singer Ukrainian (one of the cast in Mulan) known for his unique falsetto and possesses a five-octave vocal range [wiki]… I think he sang it well.. considering… he’s a guy.
    https://youtu.be/Z1YgdhO3IFA?t=12s

  • CarlIsle

    “This song was written so that no human could sing it. Well, this human just NAILED it.”

    Uhm, didn’t a human sing the original version in the movie? LOL. What a stupid headline.

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