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(CNN)Adele was there, and so were Beyonc, Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

No, this wasn’t a night out in a Las Vegas hotel, but the Olympic figure skating arena at the PyeongChang 2018 Games.
In an Olympic first, skaters who used to perform to beautiful pieces of classical music — who can forget Katarina Witt’s mesmerizing performance to the opera “Carmen” in Calgary in 1988? — are now allowed to skate to music with lyrics.
    And in another first, Eric Radford became the first openly gay man to clinch an Olympic gold medal when he helped Canada win the figure skating team event with his partner Meagan Duhamel.
    They did so to Adele’s “Hometown Glory.”


    “If you have the wrong piece of music and it doesn’t connect with the audience or the judges, it doesn’t really matter how great you skate. You’re gonna be missing something,” Radford told CBC Radio recently, as he explained a switch in December from music by Muse back to Adele, which had helped them win the 2016 world championships.
    His teammate Patrick Chan almost secured the gold for Canada as he performed his routine to a haunting version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley.

      Nathan Chen describes the feeling of landing a quad

    Elvis and The Beatles

    On Saturday, French figure skater Mae-Berenice Meite stole the show with a program set to a medley of Beyoncé hits. Although the crowd at the Gangneung Ice Arena lapped it up, she fell and finished in ninth place in the women’s short program.
    Other familiar names — rock stars, that is — included an Elvis Presley medley, including “Rip It Up” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love” for Russian skater Mikhail Kolyada. Italy’s Matteo Rizzo performed to three evergreens from The Beatles: “Come Together,” “Help!” and “Let It Be.”
    “Despacito” — the Latin pop tune by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee — was used not once but twice: by the South Korean and Chinese teams.
    Perhaps it’s time to bring back “Carmen”?

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    “Hello,” Adele! 

    Just days after she announced her widely anticipated return, Adele dropped a new music video for “Hello,” the first single off her upcoming record, “25.”

    The 27-year-old Brit hasn’t released an album in more than four years. Her last age-themed record, “21,” earned her six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, in 2012. The soulstress also won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Original Song for the title song for the 007 flick “Skyfall.”

    “25” will be released on Nov. 20. You can find the entire track list here

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    The long read: More and more singers are cancelling big shows and turning to surgery to fix their damaged vocal cords. But is the problem actually down to the way they sing?

    I dont even know how to start this, Adele wrote in an online letter to fans on 30 June. The previous night, she had played the second show of a sold-out, four-night residency at Wembley Stadium. These dates, in front of audiences of 98,000, were supposed to be the triumphant conclusion of her record-setting, 123-date world tour. But on stage, something had just felt wrong.

    Ive struggled vocally both nights, she wrote. I had to push a lot harder than I normally do. I felt like I constantly had to clear my throat. After the second show, Adele went to see her doctor, who told her she had damaged her vocal cords and had no option but to cancel her remaining shows. The most powerful young voice in the music business had fallen silent. To say Im heart broken would be a complete understatement, she wrote.

    Though only 29, Adele had been here before. Six years earlier, she had suffered a haemorrhage to her vocal cords after singing live on a French radio program. In order to repair the injury, she underwent an incredibly delicate, high-risk medical intervention: vocal cord microsurgery. In this operation, the surgeon wields miniature scalpels and forceps attached to foot-long poles that are guided down the throat to excise whatever damaged tissue is robbing the vocal cords of their elasticity, and depriving the voice of its natural timbre, range and clarity.

    Adeles surgeon, Dr Steven Zeitels, was after a nasty polyp that had formed under her epithelium, the thin outer layer of the vocal cord. Zeitels carefully snipped the layer with a scalpel, and then, with a forcep, pulled back the tissue like a flap, exposing the polyp below. With a second forcep he pulled out the gooey, infected mass, and zapped the remaining haemorrhaged surface with a laser to stop the bleeding and prevent scarring.

    The margin for error in such surgeries is measured in fractions of a millimetre. You cant let the instruments touch any healthy tissue. Dig too deep, Zeitels knew, and he would risk damaging the superficial lamina propria, the soft, pliable underlayer of Adeles vocal cords. If he pierced that, he told me, there would be no way to preserve the power and suppleness of her voice.

    On 12 February 2012, three months after her surgery, Adele swept up six awards at the Grammys, including album of the year and song of the year. In her acceptance speech for best pop solo performance, she thanked Zeitels for restoring her voice. To most observers, it was a cheering comeback story, but for a handful of medical specialists it was a watershed moment. For years, vocal cord microsurgery had been considered risky. (In 1997, an unsuccessful surgical procedure left Julie Andrews already damaged voice beyond repair.) More than the physical risk, though, singers feared the damage to their careers that could follow if word got out. In the world of showbusiness, it was safer to be seen as a singer with a healthy young voice than as a one-time great with surgically repaired cords.

    Now, Adele had suddenly swept away the stigma. In the years since, Zeitels business has boomed, along with those of many of his peers. They have no shortage of patients: there is an epidemic of serious vocal cord injuries in the performing arts. In addition to his work on Adele, Zeitels, who directs the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation, has repaired the cords of more than 700 performing artists, including Sam Smith, Lionel Richie, Bono and Cher. Michael Bubl, Keith Urban, Meghan Trainor and Celine Dion have also had to quit touring to get their cords surgically repaired. In a mark of how attitudes to surgery have changed, both Smith and Bubl broke the news of their surgeries to their fans via Instagram.

    There is no precise data on the number of performers who have gone under the knife over the years. But several surgeons told me they estimate that vocal cord surgery has been performed on thousands of pop, rock and classical singers, as well as on theatre and stage musical stars. Cancelled shows reverberate across social media and hit a struggling music industry hard. When Adele pulled out of her remaining two Wembley shows this summer, nearly 200,000 tickets had to be refunded. Its unclear if she will ever tour again.

    After Adeles 2011 surgery, Zeitels became something of a celebrity. Occasionally, a reporter asked him if Adele was cured for good. He made no assurances, but told Channel 4s Jon Snow that her surgically repaired voice sounds smoother now than before.

    While the media was celebrating this miracle surgery, one woman in the music industry raised a dissenting voice. According to Lisa Paglin, a former opera singer turned voice coach, Zeitels had simply found a temporary fix; in the not too distant future, Adele would once again be forced off the stage and back into the operating theatre. It was a prediction that Paglin and Marianna Brilla, her coaching partner, were willing to stake their reputations on. The rash of vocal injuries silencing our most promising young talents, they argued, is too big a problem to be solved by microsurgery.

    How many surgeries would Dr Zeitels consider performing on Adele? Or on anyone? After surgery, unless a singer makes major changes, return to performing means a return to the vocal abuse that put her/him on the operating table in the first place, Paglin wrote, in the small trade publication Intermezzo. Concerts injury surgery rest concerts injury surgery. Is this the life of a professional singer?

    When Adele cancelled the final nights of her recent tour, Brilla and Paglin felt saddened but vindicated. For more than a decade, they have been pushing for a revolution in the way that almost every modern performer has been taught to use their voice. After years of painstaking research in musical archives, early scientific journals and the classroom, Brilla and Paglin say they can deliver what medical science has failed to: a permanent fix for vocal burnout.

    Their solution requires the revival of an all-but-vanished singing method that is not just beautiful to the ear, but also easy on the throat. Some of their ageing and beleaguered clients described it to me as a kind of fountain of youth. But their cure is not without controversy. It is based on a provocative theory that has been gaining ground among a small cadre of international talents: that we have all been singing completely wrong even Adele.

    Singing is a rough business. Every vocal performance involves hundreds of thousands of micro-collisions in the throat. The vocal cords also known as vocal folds are a pair of thin, reed-like, muscular strips located inside the larynx, or voice box, in the throat. They are shaped like a wishbone, and contain the densest concentration of nerve tissue in the body.

    When we are silent, the cords remain apart to facilitate breathing. When we sing or speak, air is pushed up from the lungs, and the edges of the cords come together in a rapid chopping motion. The air causes the cords to vibrate, creating sound. The greater the vibration, the higher the pitch. By the time a soprano hits those lush high notes, her vocal cords are thwacking together 1,000 times per second, transforming a burst of air from her lungs into music powerful enough to shatter glass.

    Beautiful singing requires lithe cords, but all that slapping together can wear down their fine, spongy surface and lead to tiny contusions. Over years of heavy use, nodules, polyps or cysts form on the vocal folds, distorting the sound they create. For a singer, the first sign of trouble is often the wobble. His pitch fluctuates on and off key because his ragged cords have lost their natural vibrato their ability to resonate properly. Then theres the hole, a point on the scale where a singers vibrating vocal cords fail to produce the proper tone. Try as he might, those notes will exit his mouth flat or, worse, as a barely audible gasp.

    A vintage engraving of a view inside the throat. Photograph: Alamy Stock Vector

    It was once unheard-of for a singer to perform with a faulty voice, but the opera world has recently been shaken by a trio of incidents in which the stars Rolando Villazn, Aleksandrs Antonenko and Robert Alagno walked off stage mid-performance, unable to go on. Some opera singers complain of year-round cold symptoms, and legal steroid injections and other drugs are often used to get a struggling singer through a performance. But singing through the wear and tear can cause the lesions to burst and bleed, creating voice-ruining scars, which is what happened to Adele in 2011.

    Voice specialists liken the physical toll on singers and stage performers to what athletes endure. Surgery to the professional singers vocal cords is what ligament reconstruction has become to the football players knee. Dusty theatres, stuffy airplane cabins, erratic eating and sleeping patterns, the stress of living off stingy contracts all affect the vocal cords. Add to it the occupational hazard, at least in opera and classical music, of taking on roles that require you to sing above your natural range, and the cords become extremely susceptible to injury.

    In 1986, the conductor, vocal coach and New York Times music critic Will Crutchfield lamented that vocal burnout was cutting short careers and diminishing the power of opera, as audiences, by necessity, accustom themselves to hearing voices in poor condition. Back then, Crutchfield saw that singers peaked in their 30s and then began to decline. But Adele, Trainor and Smith all underwent career-saving surgery in their 20s. Vocal burnout is afflicting amateurs, too. One veteran teacher in Italy told me that female students in their early 20s who want to sing like Adele or a young Whitney Houston are the ones who come down with vocal nodules. Another music teacher told me she recently had to instruct one of her 10-year-old students to stop singing and get his damaged cords checked by a specialist.

    The rise in vocal injuries is linked to a change in what we consider good singing. Across all genres, it has become normal to believe that louder is better. (One reason that Adele is such a big star is because her voice is so big.) As a result, singers are pushing their cords like never before, which leads to vocal breakdown.

    New waves of medical research into the causes of dysphonia, or the inability to properly produce voice, bear this out. In the west, vocal abuse is surprisingly common in all professions that rely on the voice , from schoolteachers to opera singers. Awareness of the problem is growing, but as Adeles case demonstrated, and separate studies conclude, surgery is not necessarily a lasting fix.

    Brilla and Paglin have been saying this for years. You cannot solve the problem by simply relieving the symptom, Brilla said. Its a motor problem. The singer has to understand its the way youre running your engine the techniques theyre using to sing. If you dont fix the engine, its going to happen again.

    Teatro La Nuova Fenice, a 19th-century opera house built in the neoclassical style, sits at the top of the small hill town of Osimo in central Italy, just inland of the Adriatic Sea. In the grand lobby of the building is a marble plaque commemorating the night in 1927 when the Italian tenor Beniamino Gigli, one of the greatest talents of his era, performed here. Gigli packed concert halls across Europe and the Americas in a career that spanned five decades.

    Gigli is an icon of the purer, more natural singing style that characterised a period when vocal injuries were almost unheard of, say Brilla and Paglin. They have a small teaching studio in a cul-de-sac below La Nuova Fenice. Brilla, a dramatic soprano with a fearless air, first became obsessed with the fragility of the human voice more than 50 years ago, as a teenage opera singer growing up in Pennsylvania coal country. A doctor there diagnosed her with a problem common among young singers with big voices: her vocal cords werent coming together properly. She had a hole. Over the next few decades, she cycled through nearly 30 teachers, including legends such as Antonio Tonini and Ellen Faull, trying to learn to sing in a style like Giglis at once powerful, clear and sustainable over the course of many years.

    Brilla met Paglin, a lyric soprano who appears small next to Brilla, while studying voice at Indiana Universitys school of music. The two bonded over their love for Italian opera and their frustration with the way singing was taught, even by their legendary teacher Margaret Harshaw. Feeling that the giants of music instruction didnt have the key to vocal longevity, Brilla and Paglin determined that they would be the ones to unlock the secret.

    In 1977, Brilla won a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to travel to Italy to search for a way to sing beautifully without risking injury. There, she heard glimpses of perfect arias from older, mostly Italian opera singers who learned their craft in the early 20th century. These singers seemed to effortlessly produce clear, powerful musical tones, and so many of them were still performing with vigour well into their 60s, 70s and 80s. To Brilla, they held a clue to the vocal longevity lost to singers today.

    Paglin soon joined her in Rome, where they started spending hours each day at the national sound archive, La Discoteca di Stato, listening to early recordings. They also scoured libraries for texts that discussed how operatic and classical singing techniques had changed over the centuries. When they werent researching, they were performing; big talents in their own right, they performed in many of the major opera houses and music halls of Italy and Austria. This put them in the presence of more masters, whom they peppered with questions. They also tracked down other ageing opera stars, teachers and conductors.

    Their research pointed Brilla and Paglin to a surprising conclusion: that responsibility for the modern decline of the voice lay at the feet of Verdi, Wagner and Puccini. These three composers were the pop music sensations of their day. Music scholars credit them with being the first to challenge their singers to push their voices to new limits, in order to capture the emotional ups and downs their characters were feeling. Think of the teenage Japanese bride in Puccinis Madama Butterfly, her heart breaking, desperately watching the seas for a sign her love will return, or the thunderous battle cries of the Valkyries in Wagners Ring cycle. If youre going to kill off the main character of your show, you need genuine rage and pathos on stage.

    But Brilla and Paglin heard something different that the emotionally charged, full-throated, operatic singing style Verdi and Wagner made popular in the late 19th century and that Puccini amped up even further in the early 20th century had subsequently infiltrated all singing genres and public performances. With each passing decade, the style grew more extreme. To illustrate the point, when I visited the duo earlier this summer, Paglin pulled from their sprawling research library a file containing a series of images. The first was a photograph, taken in 1920, of the legendary Italian tenor Enrico Caruso mid-aria. Caruso seems to be enjoying himself, even as the camera flashes; its as if hes talking to a friend, not baying at the audience. This is natural singing, Paglin said.

    As she flipped from image to image, we travelled towards the present, a decade at a time. The photographs of the more contemporary singers including the tenor Rolando Villazn, who has suffered multiple vocal injuries looked like horror-movie stills: their mouths were wide open, eyes bulging, neck veins popping, as if they were screaming. There was none of Carusos easy calm.

    Caruso and Gigli produced legendarily big sounds, but with an effort that todays performers might deride as somewhat wimpy. Compare Carusos 1916 recording of O Sole Mio with Villazns 2010 rendition. Carusos is powerful, but not so powerful that the lyrics crash into one another and become indecipherable; and even at the height of the aria, he doesnt drown out the strings. That Brilla and Paglin had identified this contrast wasnt enough. They wanted to reverse-engineer exactly how Caruso and his contemporaries sang.

    Rolando Villazn on German TV in 2015. Photograph: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

    In 1983, Brilla convinced Maria Carbone, a retired Italian operatic soprano, to work with them. Carbone was nearing 80, but still had a powerful voice. While Carbone sang, Brilla would clasp Carbones abdomen to feel what was happening inside her body. Carbone started with an aria from Tosca. As her voice rose, hitting higher and higher notes, Brillas eyes widened. I could feel this tick, tick. Tick, tick, she recalled. It was the natural up-down release of her diaphragm. Nothing else was happening. Carbones ribcage wasnt ballooning out as she sang, and there were no deep gulps of air, as is common with todays big-voiced singers. More amazing still, the movement of Carbones abdomen while singing was just as quiet and rhythmic as when she spoke. It was a discovery of what the perfect singers posture should be, Paglin said.

    Brilla added: Whereas all the teachers in my life had been telling me to open, open, open to exaggerate her breathing and lunge into every high note to produce the biggest sound Carbone was demonstrating the opposite.The root of the problem, they realised, is in classrooms. Too many students graduate from conservatories who dont know how to sing, and its leading to injury, Brilla said. Weve got to stop this. Its ass-backwards!

    It is not just singers whose careers are threatened by deteriorating vocal cords. In 1989, the Italian actor Maddalena Crippa momentarily lost her voice during a live performance of Shakespeares bloodiest work, Titus Andronicus. Crippa was playing Tamora, the vanquished queen of the Goths. After Tamoras son is murdered before her eyes, Crippa said she unleashed these uncontrollable cries. But, for a moment, her next line wouldnt come out. It was the first time in her acting career that Crippas vocal cords had failed her. The suffering I felt was indescribable, she told me.

    That suffering continued for more than a decade. Crippas voice was no longer reliably crisp and sonorous, and a burning pain lingered in her throat. After visiting vocal coaches and throat specialists, she got the prognosis that all performers dread: nodules on her cords. Cortisone injections and voice exercises worked well enough to get her back on stage, but her confidence was shaken. You mean you still dont know how to use your voice? she remembered thinking. Its demoralising. Then, in 2002, at the suggestion of a fellow actor, Crippa visited Brilla and Paglins Osimo studio.

    Unlike medical doctors, Brilla and Paglin dont own a laryngoscope that allows them to peer into the throat. If someone comes to them with injuries, they treat the problem by ear. They sing a soft note and ask the student to match it precisely. They can hear in the response where the pitch is off-key, and where the damage is located on the cord. (When I spoke with Adeles surgeon, Steven Zeitels, he demonstrated something similar, singing a scale to isolate where his own cord is damaged a perturbation, as its called, the result of years of long hours in the classroom.)

    The moment Crippa said hello, Brilla and Paglin knew there was something very wrong with her voice. She exuded tension, as if bracing for confrontation, and took big, gulping breaths before speaking. Brilla and Paglin often see this problem with singers; their vocal cords are so used to having great quantities of air shoved at them that the cords wont respond without that force. Once you start pushing, youre condemned to push for the rest of your life, Paglin told me. Unless you learn a new way of doing it.

    In their studio, Brilla and Paglin instructed Crippa to lie on her back and produce a series of high notes, which Paglin demonstrated for me. It sounded like a faint squeaking, as if she was gently releasing air from the neck of a balloon. When Crippa was told to reproduce what Paglin called a floating high C, she protested, saying she couldnt get that far up the scale. Finally, she gave it a try, producing a barely audible piff, followed by a more sustained tone. Hearing herself, Crippa broke down and cried. They were tears of joy, Crippa told me. They touched a nerve deep inside me. I mean, this is my voice. My voice.

    Brilla and Paglin say they can restore most vocal cord problems naturally, via exercises that massage out the defect over time. They aim to stimulate the cords precisely where they arent coming together properly, and to break students out of the bad habits that cause problems in the first place: taking big gulps of air, tensing the throat and jaw muscles, forcing the mouth to open to exaggerated proportions, and the urge to scream out the high notes.

    There are limits to what Brilla and Paglin claim to be able to do for an ailing artist. Paglin told me of a time when she was watching a singer perform on stage, and could tell there was something very wrong. She got a message to the singer that he urgently needed to see a doctor. He did, and was diagnosed with a form of throat cancer.

    But their track record with other difficult cases has earned them a small international following. The veteran Italian stage actor Moni Ovadia was one of their earliest big-name success stories. Throughout his mid-40s, he performed up to 250 shows a year, in Europe and the US, but by 48 he was ready to quit showbusiness. His voice had become flat and raspy, and he found it physically painful to perform. He credits Paglin and Brilla with restoring his voice and his career. They saved my life, he told me. Today, at 71, he is a bull on stage, and can perform non-stop for up to three hours.

    In May, at Brilla and Paglins studio in Osimo, I watched an aspiring dramatic soprano named Emanuela Albanesi rehearse the high-energy duet Mi Volete Fiera?, from Gaetano Donizettis comic opera Don Pasquale. There are few, if any, widely accepted standards for teaching singing, and many teachers complain that too many of their peers get jobs because of how they sound, not what they know. Paglin and Brilla mine the internet for teaching videos that concern them, such as one in which a soprano chides a student to open her mouth wider and wider as she sings an aria, in order to achieve more volume; not until the student plugs her fist into her mouth is the teacher satisfied.

    Albanesi, however, sang with an ease that belied the strength of her highest notes. As she came to the final grazie!, I was expecting a thunderous, take-the-roof-off moment, but she never lost the disarming grin with which she performed. I thought of that photo of Enrico Caruso singing with such relaxed ease. I whispered to Brilla that it was the first time I had ever been able to make out each and every lyric in a such an intense operatic number. Im telling you, she said. Weve cracked it.

    The question remains: could Brilla and Paglins approach permanently cure an artist like Adele by teaching her to sing in a more natural way? Steven Zeitels is dismissive of such an approach, and quick to defend Adele and his other clients against the contention that bad technique is causing their vocal problems. People used to think if you needed an operation it meant you dont know how to sing. The people I see they know how to sing!

    Zeitels believes that medical specialists such as himself are becoming increasingly important to the arts, which he compared to other demanding physical pursuits. Any athletic endeavour will eventually take a toll if done for long enough, he said. Whats terrific is were getting better and better at bringing people back.

    Specially trained vocal therapists have also restored performers to health through voice training, but medical experts advise taking this route only for minor vocal injuries, such as small nodules. Otherwise, they strongly suggest surgery. This attitude rankles Brilla and Paglin, who have cured artists such as the internationally renowned jazz singer Maria Pia De Vito, who suffered from vocal edema, a painful swelling of the cords, for which surgery is the generally recommended course of action. What irony, Paglin said. There is an industry built around singers who harm themselves while singing, and there is another one built around fixing them up.

    Another renowned throat surgeon, Dr Robert T Sataloff, who has performed voice-corrective surgery on several Grammy Award winners, including Neil Diamond and Patti LuPone, bristles at the notion that surgery is not a sensible way to keep singers healthy. Combined with proper education on the dangers of improper singing technique, he believes it can keep people on stage for longer. Is it perfect? No. And it probably never will be, he told me. Like Zeitels, Sataloff drew a sporting analogy. Injury is inevitable and thats when they end up in my office.

    Swedish opera singer Sigrid Onegin (18891943) having her vocal cords examined. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

    Some conservatory teachers in Italy dismiss Brilla and Paglins natural-singing approach as heretical, and their disciples as a sect. Over time, the duo have made a number of enemies. An invitation in 2011 to teach a series of master classes at Romes Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia, one of Italys top conservatories, met with near universal opposition among the faculty. The classes were popular with the students, but many teachers didnt want them on campus. Edda Silvestri, the former director of Santa Cecilia, told me she didnt recall any overt hostility towards the duo, but she did remember the rift Brilla and Paglin created between faculty and students. Unfortunately, this is common when you try to introduce any new approach to a conservatory. They are conservative places, Silvestri said. Elizabeth Aubry, the vice president of Italys most influential organisation of singing teachers, the Associazione Insegnanti di Canto Italiana, finds Brilla and Paglins critiques terrible. She said the main objective of her organisation and its counterparts in the UK and US is to teach teachers precisely not to do damage.

    For his part, Zeitels is working on a futuristic fix to dysphonia. Anyone who relies particularly heavily on their voice schoolteachers, talkshow hosts, sales reps, preachers, lawyers, frazzled parents is vulnerable to chronic raspiness, or to going hoarse. One of Zeitels patented innovations is to apply a biomaterial a gel implant in the tissue of damaged vocal cords to restore pliability. He sees it as a potentially huge breakthrough. It will be just as important what you put into a vocal cord as what you remove, he told a journalist in 2015.

    But some of Brilla and Paglins students are thriving without such intervention, including Maddalena Crippa, who at 59 years old is in the midst of a remarkable second act. Her voice has been injury-free since she started working with Brilla and Paglin 15 years ago, and last May she wrapped up a critically acclaimed tour of LAllegra Vedova, a one-woman-show based on a 1905 operetta. For 75 minutes each night, she sang and acted two roles, the husky-voiced Danilo and the high-pitched Anna, who at one point sing a virtuosic duet. Critics were impressed, with one raving that Crippa is still a brilliant singer.

    Adele, however, is one of those rare figures in the arts. Her unique voice, and her story, are so big that many people believe that what she does (or doesnt do) to correct her latest injury will determine future approaches to protecting the voice.

    On 1 July, when news broke of Adeles cancellations, Paglin sent me a Whatsapp message. She was frustrated by the press coverage. Recalling that Adeles original surgery in 2011 had proved to be a huge PR victory for vocal-cord microsurgery, she worried that the message from Adeles latest setback would be that, not to worry, a second or third surgery will get the star back on stage. What makes matters worse is that the mechanics are still convinced that all there is to it is to keep operating, while the singers themselves still talk about air travel, drafts, allergies and stress. #elephantintheroom could be a good hashtag, she wrote, referring to what is wrong, as she sees it, with how people are taught to sing in the first place.

    A few hours later, she sent me another note. She felt bad for Adele, and wanted to help. We know how to fix Adeles problems (sans surgery), and for good. If only we could talk with her.

    Main photograph: Sascha Steinbach/Getty

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    The money youre forking over to see your favourite band is paying for an entire touring ecosystem, including artists, promoters, sets and medical staff

    In 2001, Billboard Boxscore reported that the top 100 music concerts of the year collectively generated $350m. In 2015, the top 25 concerts alone grossed just shy of $360m. There are two reasons behind this: more people are going to shows and ticket prices are spiking sharply.

    Here is a topically illustrative example, given that their Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour is the hottest ticket of the moment. In 2001, U2 had the ninth-biggest venue gross of the year in the US, collecting $6.4m from 78,275 tickets sold across four shows at the United Center in Chicago, with tickets priced at $45-$130. In 2015, they had the fourth-biggest gross of the year with $19.4m earned, playing eight shows to 149,942 people, with tickets at $30-$275. At the bottom end, some tickets were cheaper, but the band played more nights to twice as many people and made three times the money. Obviously, inflation has to be factored in, but the contrast between how they toured then and how they tour now is significant.

    Of course, gross earnings are far from synonymous with profit. Acts touring today are not just swelling their own bank accounts; there are a lot of mouths to feed along the way. Fans paying $275 for a show might presume most of that is going straight to the band. But it really isnt. So what, exactly, is your ticket price paying for?

    The live industry is rarely keen to draw back the curtain to show its inner workings, so the Guardian spoke to a number of live music insiders who wished to remain anonymous. In doing so, they were able to speak candidly about where, exactly, the money goes.

    There are no precise splits that apply in every case as it will depend on the band, the venue, the promoter, the marketing budget and tax laws, among other things. The following is intended only as a general guide to how your ticket price could break down and what it is going to pay for. Most of the things that have to be paid for will apply in almost every case. What will be different is how much they will be paid. And that includes the band members.

    Peeling it back layer by layer, of your ticket price, around 10% is going to be swallowed up by a booking fee and processing fee (either posting the tickets or charging you for the privilege of printing them at home), with some of that actually working its way back to the band and their promoter.

    You also have to take out taxes from that. In the US, about a 5% rate is applied to tickets, but it can be as high as 35% in some European countries due to the addition of cultural taxes. A small percentage of the gross the monies left after transaction fees are deducted will be collected and paid through, eventually, to songwriters in public performance royalties. The rate will depend on the venue size, but Ascap, which collects royalties, says on its website the figure can start at 0.8% and drop to 0.1% for venues with over 25,000 capacities. Again, as with taxes, there are higher deductions in Europe, with PRS for Music in the UK, for example, collecting 3% of the gross.

    What is left roughly 84% of the gross then is carved up between the band and their promoter (who puts on and underwrites the show). But there are still more things to be paid for.

    Fixed expenses are many and various, says one source, who drew on a spreadsheet for a recent arena tour for a major act they worked with before reeling off all the things that they had to account for. These included (deep breath): venue hire, stage hands, venue staff, electricians, power, spotlight hire, scaffolding, barriers, catering, public liability insurance (in case anyone is injured at the show), backstage furniture (yes, really), forklifts, rigging, medical staff, transport and even towels. Many times the venue will pay for that out of its cut, but that will depend on the particulars of the deal struck.

    That can leave anything between 50% and 70% of the gross, but there are no hard and fast rules for how that is divided between the act and the promoter. A commonly quoted figure is that the promoter will take 15% of what is left and the act will get 85%. But it will depend on if the promoter really has to work to get the show to sell out or if they are pushing on an open door and demand is so high it sells out in seconds. In those instances, the promoter may get as little as 5%; but for arena shows charging $150 or more for tickets, that 5% quickly adds up.

    U2s claw. Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

    Performers are often offered a guarantee, making the performance risk-free as they will be offered a set fee regardless of whether the show sells out, with the promoter shouldering any losses. In many cases, the performers will get a guaranteed minimum fee plus a percentage of anything made beyond that figure.

    In the case of a fixed fee, the promoter would guarantee the artist money and then the promoter gets anything above that, says Steve Machin, CEO of Accent Media, the operator of the .tickets domain name space. Or they might split the money with different percentages. So if its normally 80-20 after allowable costs, if the act gets a guarantee, then the split would be adjusted in favour of the promoter.

    The artists share then has to cover its own mini economy. The act will have their own crew (roadies, sound engineers, lighting crew, catering, tour manager, backing singers, extra musicians, dancers and so on) as well as transport trucks, with 30 articulated trucks on the road not being uncommon for the biggest shows. One huge acts manager reportedly said it cost them $750,000 a day to be on the road, whether they were playing a show or not. Talking of which, dont forget that the manager also needs their cut of the bands share normally 15%-20%.

    Before any of that happens, rehearsal time has to be paid for as well as the design and build of stage sets. Not every band will have something as spectacular (and costly) as the Claw on U2s 360 tour, but they cant just show up and play to 80,000 people with a few lights and screens, hoping for the best.

    I often ask myself if the audience would rather have that amount of money spent on that kind of show or have a much cheaper ticket price to get into a reasonable-sized venue and watch the act playing, says one source of the huge drain a spectacular show can have on profits. That comes down to the act.

    The more money acts are going to make, it appears, the more ways they can find to spend it on expensive hotels, helicopters and ostentatious stage sets that in less hubristic moments they perhaps dont need. Never underestimate ego and its ability to blow budgets out of the water.

    If you give an act loads of money, theyll find a good way of spending it on the show, says a source who has seen this happen time and again. So its never going to be as profitable as people think and its never a case of all the money going straight into the bands pockets.

    This is not a play to make us feel sympathy for poor stadium acts who are left destitute after an exhausting 300 shows around the world. Rather it is a timely reminder that as in everything money generated and profits made are never bedfellows. Indeed, they rarely even share the same zip code.

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    Singer suggests she may be extending her family, in comment at end of show in Phoenix, Arizona

    Adele has hinted that she may be extending her family, as she concluded her sellout world tour this week.

    As she came to the end of her concert in Phoenix, Arizona, on Monday night the last of over 100 shows she was filmed saying: Im going to have another baby.

    The 28-year-old British singer is a mother to four-year-old son Angelo with her partner Simon Konecki.

    Her family gave her a special surprise as she finished her tour, with a giant banner reading: Mummy you did it! She posted a picture of the colourful artwork on Instagram:

    The singer will continue her live tour in February through until March for eight additional dates in Australia and New Zealand, where it will finally come to an end in Auckland.

    Adeles 2016 tour, in support of her third album, 25, marked the first time she had toured in four years.

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    Singer earned $170m in the last year according to Forbes, more than twice as much as Adele, while 2015s highest earner Katy Perry drops down to fifth place

    Taylor Swift has topped Forbes magazines list of the highest-earning female solo artists in music, with more than twice the income of the second-placed artist, Adele. The US business magazine estimated Swift earned $170m (137m) between 1 June 2015 and 1 June 2016, compared to Adeles $80.5m.

    Forbes notes that most of Swifts earnings came from her 1989 world tour, which sold more than $250m worth of tickets, while Adele is unusual in that the bulk of her revenue came from album sales. Adeles most recent album, 25 which was released in November 2015 became the fastest selling album of all time in the UK, selling 800,307 copies in its first week. In the US, it became the first album to sell more than 3m copies in a week, with 3.38m sales within seven days of release, and was the best selling album of 2015.

    While Beyonc seems low on the list, in fifth place, with $54m, she is likely to be higher next year, when sales from her Formation world tour are taken into account.

    Touring is the biggest generator of income for artists these days, and its noticeable that last years highest earner, Katy Perry, has slipped to sixth place. In 2015, her Prismatic world tour sent her to the top by generating $135m. This year, without that cash machine, she earned $41m.

    The bottom four of the top 10, however, did not have to crisscross the world to make money. Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Shania Twain and Celine Dion all took on lucrative residencies in Las Vegas, where casino owners shell out huge sums for marquee acts to draw in gamblers.

    Forbes said the figures were calculated using information from Pollstar, which tracks tour revenues, Nielsen, which measures music sales, Recording Industry Association of America, as well as interviews with those involved in the inner workings of business.

    The full top 10:

    1. Taylor Swift $170m
    2. Adele $80.5m
    3. Madonna $76.5m
    4. Rihanna $75m
    5. Beyonc $54m
    6. Katy Perry $41m
    7. Jennifer Lopez $39.5m
    8. Britney Spears $30.5m
    9. Shania Twain $27.5m
    10. Celine Dion $27m

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    Singer talks about her dislike for going on the road and her battle with depression in Vanity Fair interview

    The singer Adele has revealed she would be happy if she never had to tour again, in an interview that also covered her long battle with depression and what she described as her very dark side.

    The multi-Grammy Award winning songwriter said she would continue to make music, but was content to lose out on lucrative live tours and never to appear on stage again.

    She told Vanity Fair magazine: Id still like to make records, but Id be fine if I never heard [the applause] again. Im on tour simply to see everyone whos been so supportive. I dont care about money.

    The 10-time Grammy winning musician, whose hits include Someone Like You and Rolling in the Deep, is nearing the end of a 10-month tour with her album, 25.

    Adele told the magazine that the death of her grandfather when she was a child sparked her depression and that she had undergone therapy to tackle the illness.

    The 28-year-old, born Adele Adkins in Tottenham, north London, also spoke of having postnatal depression after the birth of her son, Angelo, four.

    She is quoted in the December issue as saying: I have a very dark side. Im very available to depression. I can slip in and out of it quite easily.

    It started when my grandad died, when I was about 10, and while I never had a suicidal thought, I have been in therapy, lots.

    But I havent had that feeling since I had my son and snapped out of my postpartum depression, she added. I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me.

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    Singer claims she turned down the slot, saying: I cant dance or anything like that. The NFL and Pepsi deny making her an offer

    The NFL have denied making an official offer to Adele to perform the Super Bowl halftime show.

    The Hello singer claimed she turned down an offer to play the slot in 2017 during a gig at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night (13 August). She told the crowd: First of all, Im not doing the Super Bowl. I mean, come on, that show is not about music. And I dont really I cant dance or anything like that. They were very kind, they did ask me, but I said no.

    However, both the NFL and the halftime show sponsor Pepsi have denied an official offer was ever tabled. In a joint statement, they said: The NFL and Pepsi are big fans of Adele. We have had conversations with several artists about the Pepsi Super Bowl halftime show. However, we have not at this point extended a formal offer to Adele or anyone else. We are focused on putting together a fantastic show for Houston and we look forward to revealing that in good time.

    Adele has a reputation for turning down big shows, and it was seen as a major coup when she agreed to headline Glastonbury this year. Were she to perform at the Super Bowl she would join a long list of stars who have previously played including Bruce Springsteen, Beyonc and Katy Perry.

    • The 2017 Super Bowl takes place at Houstons NRG Stadium on 5 February 2017.

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    (CNN)Okay, VMAs, let’s get in formation.

    MTV announced the nominees for this year’s Video Music Awards on Tuesday, and two of music’s most popular female artists lead the list.
      Beyonc tops all nominees with a career-best 11 nominations, while Adele is close behind with eight nominations. Queen Bey’s much talked about “Formation” video, and Adele’s “Hello” — viewed more than 1.6 billion times on YouTube — are nominated for the biggest prize of the event, Video of the Year.
      Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and Kanye West’s “Famous,” are also nominated for Video of the Year.
      Traditionally, the VMAs are more about the spectacle — and downright insanity of the show — than who takes home the MTV Moonman trophy. (Just ask Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift.) With West in the mix, this year should be no exception.
      West, The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Bryson Tiller and Drake will battle it out for Best Male Video. Sia, Ariana Grande and Rihanna are nominated in the Best Female Video category, along with Adele and Beyonc.
      Newcomers including Bryson Tiller, Desiigner, Zara Larsson, Lukas Graham and DNCE, are up for the Best New Artist award.
      The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards air live from New York City’s Madison Square Garden on August 28.

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      (CNN)A UK hospice worker’s rendition of the Adele hit “Make You Feel My Love” is going viral online. But the performance may have struck its strongest chord with the audience who heard it in person.

      The video, shot July 22, shows St. Helena Hospice nurses’ assistant Emma Young giving an impromptu performance to patients.
        “I sing whenever I can. Every time I’m on shift, if it gets quiet then I try to sing a few songs on the piano,” said Young. “It really helps to make patients and families smile and creates such a nice atmosphere.”
        The hospice, located in Colchester, England, cares for those living with life-limiting illnesses, and Young said that music plays a significant role in their care.
        Scientific research supports her approach. A meta-analysis of 400 studies in the journal Trends in Cognitive Science showed music has anti-anxiety properties, which can help people deal with chronic or terminal illness.
        “It’s very uplifting and it really brightened up my afternoon. She plays beautifully and sings beautifully,” said St. Helena Hospice patient Sharon Jack.


        “It made me feel so welcome and at home. My husband, daughter and friend were here as well and it really made me feel so settled,” Jack added.
        Young’s simple video — it’s just her sitting at a piano, singing softly — had more than 58,000 views on Facebook by Monday afternoon. Comments from around the world praised Young for sharing her talent with patients.
        “I didn’t expect it at all and it hasn’t really sunk in yet that the video has gone viral,” she told CNN via email. “Lots of my friends and family have been messaging me saying, ‘Don’t forget about us when you’re famous!’ It’s amazing how many people have viewed the video.”
        When asked why she chose the Adele ballad — which was written by Bob Dylan — Young’s reasoning was simple: “I’m a huge fan of Adele and absolutely love her music. The words in the song are really powerful and are very meaningful to patients and families so I know it really touches people when I sing the song.”
        For Young, who performs at open mics in her spare time, it was that response from patients and staff that means the most.
        “The hospice really is a lovely organization to work for, and I feel privileged to work there and care for patients in one of the most important times of their lives,” she said.

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