Clip | Birgit Nilsson: A League of Her Own - Birgit’s Vocal Technique

Watch as German operatic tenor Jonas Kaufmann explains why Birgit Nilsson was “an unbelievable force of nature” while English-Italian conductor Antonio Pappano breaks down her 1969 performance of “Turandot.”

Premieres Friday, March 22 at 9:00 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). Streams beginning March 23 pbs.org/gperf and PBS apps.

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(speaking in foreign language) (pleasant opera music) - The voice, fire and ice.

Like a knife cutting through the texture of the orchestra.

Listen to her approach to the high notes now.

Absolutely direct and fearless.

You see how clean and what a gleam on that sound.

Now common wisdom would say that you should join the lower note to the higher note.

But, no, she stops in between.

(singing in foreign language) (playing notes) And it really does pin you to the back of your seat.