Aretha Franklin Plans Operatic Return To Studio

Queen of Soul hopes to include Puccini's 'Nessun Dorma,' which stunned 1998 Grammy crowd, on LP of arias.

With Webster's defining "diva" as an "operatic prima donna," soon-to-be-honored VH1 Diva Aretha Franklin is planning to get that "opera" part taken care of.

The Queen of Soul recently told Reuters that in addition to another R&B album, she's "planning to do a solo aria album" that she hopes will feature her rendition of Turandot's "Nessun Dorma," citing her appreciation for the work of its composer, Giacomo Puccini.

At the 1998 Grammy Awards ceremony, Franklin brought the audience to its feet (and stole the show) with "Nessun Dorma" when she filled in at the last minute for Luciano Pavarotti, who was unable to perform due to illness.

The 59-year-old legend's last in-studio recording was 1998's A Rose Is Still a Rose, which spawned a hit with the Lauryn Hill-produced title track (RealAudio excerpt). Franklin's label, Arista, said they had no knowledge of any definitive recording plans, and the end of the year would be the earliest an Aretha Franklin album conceivably could drop.

Franklin will be seen on the small screen next month when she becomes the latest "VH1 Divas" honoree, with tribute paid by Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott and more. "VH1 Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin - A Benefit Concert for VH1 Save the Music Foundation" airs live from New York's Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday, April 10 at 9 p.m. ET on VH1. (Sonicnet's parent company, Viacom, also owns VH1.)

Those who tune in to the show should be ready for anything, as Franklin told Reuters, "I am spontaneous sometimes."

As for the "diva" tag, she said, "I have a lot of fun with that. I know there are legitimate divas and it's a tremendous honor, but we still have a lot of fun with it."