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More reality opera

It's a trend: first the chance of a Fort Worth Opera reality-TV show, now the prospect of an "Opera Idol" on radio. The BBC has announced a new operatic talent search show, with Kiri te Kanawa as head judge.

Mercifully, this competition appears to be looking for real, actual, honest-to-goodness opera singers rather than the pop-opera crossover blather featured on "Popstar to Operastar," currently playing on Britain's ITV. (You can't watch the videos on their website if you're not in the UK, but I don't think any of us is missing much.) "Britain's Got Talent" and Paul Potts have a lot to answer for.
(read more after the jump)

It's interesting that this kind of crossover is such standard reality-show talent-search fare that a number of people have mentioned to me how much they hate it that Susan Boyle, the latest talent-search star from "Britain's Got Talent," is making a travesty of opera. Susan Boyle doesn't sing opera. There are no classical tracks, pseudo or otherwise, on her runaway bestseller of a recording (unless you count "Amazing Grace" and "Silent Night" as classical music). I'm kind of intrigued that there's such a widespread perception that bad opera is inevitably a component of middle-aged talent-search stardom: it may be born of an idea that opera, misunderstood and even bowdlerized though it be, still confers some kind of street cred as a sign of putative quality.

British television has already done a lot more with reality TV and classical music, for good and for ill, than American television, with shows like "Maestro" (generally on the good side, surprisingly, at least in terms of helping viewers understand what a conductor actually does and how hard it is) and the annual Classical Brit Awards, which seem to rouse ire every year due to a heavy admixture of the glitz, or schlock, factor. (Katherine Jenkins, anybody? Yikes.)

By Anne Midgette  |  January 27, 2010; 9:40 AM ET
Categories:  news , opera  
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Comments

The British series Operatunity was very good too- I believe almost the entire series is (illegally) on youtube. The judges, all of whom were professionals attached to ENO, treated everyone with respect and were excellent at demonstrating to a television audience what differentiates an opera singer without being condescending.

As much as Paul Potts make the enamel on my teeth peel, at least he sang real operatic music (does he anymore? or has he switched to Wh'er you walk territory?). Unlike the vile, vile, Il Divo who sing Toni Braxton songs but in Italian with a strings backing. That is surely Satan's Soundtrack.

Kiri will be an interesting judge... she's not beyond an immaculately timed splintering put-down.

Posted by: ianw2 | January 27, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"rather than the pop-opera crossover blather featured on "Popstar to Operastar," currently playing on Britain's ITV. (You can't watch the videos on their website if you're not in the UK, but I don't think any of us is missing much.)"

You can however watch the episodes on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80BrZi3ue7M&feature=channel). It is rather poor quality... the video and the content. Good for a laugh perhaps. The most interesting things you learn are that Jenkins still doesn't mind being introduced as an opera singer so she can continue to say she never claimed she was and Meat Loaf also goes by Meat.

Only 154 days until Jenkins turns 30 and she can finally begin her opera career with Domingo... how foolish all those other singers have been to sing in an opera before 30.

Posted by: prokaryote | January 27, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Villazon responds to criticism of Popstar to Operastar:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/7078389/Popstar-to-Operastar-is-only-a-television-show-Rupert.html

Posted by: ianw2 | January 28, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

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