Please Don’t

I know there are people out there in the wide world who love this kind of thing. I know some of them — they like what they like, and I respect that. I like some of these singers, and I even like a John Denver song or two. But this is a mistake on so many levels. Call me a purist, but I just don’t want to here opera singers doing pop music UNLESS they can sing in the appropriate vocal style, like these opera greats Eileen Farrell…

or Thomas Quasthoff…

Now those are two very good artists doing something completely different with their operatically trained voices. There are others out there — I’ve heard Dawn Upshaw do some nice Sondheim songs, for example — and that is what I would actually call “cross-over” work, where you are indeed crossing over into new territory. Singing some simple country song like it’s Verdi isn’t quite crossing over, it’s just dropping one genre onto another.

(I make exceptions for Rene Pape, Denyce Graves and Patricia Racette. But cheez, the others look as if they’re just phoning it in.)

On the other hand, John Denver probably would have loved this.

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3 Responses to Please Don’t

  1. ellroon says:

    Thank you for that insight. My husband has several Christmas CDs by famous opera names… and they are usually disasters. Folk songs or Christmas songs are sung by people without training so to hear them as if they are operas ruins their appeal. Kinda like showing up for a pizza party in a tux….

  2. Marcellina says:

    Right. Or, filet mignon and expensive wine at the baseball park.

  3. RebeccaNYC says:

    I actually don’t mind the John Denver songs being sung in this way…they’re classic songs…what really kills me is when Opera singers try to sing something like Jazz in an operatic style. Every opera singer who thinks they can sing jazz needs to watch that Thomas Quasthoff clip. YOW!! He’s fantastic.

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