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A public protest at Katherine Jenkins

The Welsh tabloid pleaser appeared early this morning on BBC Television’s faltering Breakfast show and was introduced, inaccurately, as ‘the opera singer’. A real opera singer, Donal Byrne, watched her appearance and wrote the following letter of protest.

Dear Breakfast,

A question for Katherine Jenkins -

Dear Katherine, those of us who depend on the moniker of “opera-singer” for our livelihood and who have enormous respect for all that word entails in terms of study, practice and the effort required to achieve, normally show enough reserve to hold off using that title to describe ourselves, until we have sung at least one complete operatic role in a full opera at a recognised opera house and are doing so on a regular basis. Ignoring your own publicity hype or your aspirations for the future, could you please tell me what makes you think you are qualified to use the title ?

Thanks in advance,

D. J. Byrne

P.S. Love the dresses!

If you’d like to add further comments, we’ll send the complete bag to the appropriate authority at the BBC. It’s an editorial lapse on their part.

UPDATE: Elsewhere, Ms Jenkins has been discovering her inner Mormon.

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  1. Here’s what I said about La Jenkins in a piece I wrote for Opera Now attacking ‘Popstar to Operastar’:

    ‘All our popstars are learning a new skill,’ trills Jenkins, as if building an opera voice (the great Bel Canto teachers used to reckon on six years) might be only marginally harder than assembling an IKEA bookcase. Not that she would know. Though billed on the programme’s website as an ‘opera pro’, her own career has in fact been built on the microphones without which neither she nor any of the show’s contestants would be audible. And there’s the rub. ‘I have to stand on stage and make myself heard over the force ten gale of an orchestra by three thousand people on the other side,’ Simon Keenlyside informed a bemused Queen on receiving his CBE after she asked him what he did for a living. Had there been time he might also have mentioned that this was whilst performing a role after an intense rehearsal period of up to eight weeks. I once asked an executive at Universal whether he envisaged Jenkins performing on an opera stage. ‘I think she’d be a bloody disaster,’ he replied.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      Katherine has a nice, but average pop voice. If she had chosen Top40 pop, dance or Hip Hop, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I’m not saying she can’t sing, she can, but she simply is not what she claims to be, period. I sing arias in recitals and I would not claim to be an opera singer. I have been in musicals, yes, but fully staged opera, no. At least I am honest. Andrea Bocelli has been in an opera. Russell Watson has been in 2 musicals, War of the Worlds and Kristina, so at least he’s half way there. KJ hasn’t even sung in an opera chorus so why does she do this? It is demeaning and insulting to all those talented underpaid opera singers out there!!!

  2. Dear Donal,

    If you ever wish to bring opera to a wider audience than it currently enjoys, perhaps you shouldn’t further marginalise the general public by taking a measured pop at Katherine Jenkins. Ms Jenkins is most commonly known for singing operatic numbers, so to dispute her being labelled as an ‘opera singer’ is at best pedantic and at worst snobbery and elitism of the highest order.

    If the masses see and hear Ms Jenkins and are inspired to look into opera in more detail, surely that can only be a good thing? Your comments, sadly, will likely only reinforce the misguided common opinion that opera is ‘too posh’ for general consumption.

    Paul – tenor in an operatic society (and yes, we sometimes sing popular songs from musicals, please feel free to look down your nose at us for trying to appeal to a wider audience)

    • Ian kaye says:

      I think there is snobbery and elitism amongst opera viewers/listeners and many seats in the major uk opera houses are incredibly expensive (although you can buy seats for £12 at English national Opera and £8 at Royal Opera House).
      I just don’t think you’re right about taking a “pop” at Ms. Jenkins. She is not an opera singer plain and simple. She’s a cross-over singer who uses a microphone and she’s very pretty and good luck to her and I hope she’s making a fortune. After all, someone’s got to do what she does to fill the niche in the market.
      Opera is not too posh for common consumption (remember those cheap tickets) but there’s no evidence that Ms Jenkins’ warblings have any effect in encouraging the masses to listen to more opera; it merely encourages the masses to listen to more of Ms. Jenkins; at least I think that’s the idea. I can’t imagine Ms Jenkins or indeed her record label give a flying f**** about cross-pollination; do you seriously imagine that her singing “O mio babbino caro” is going to get listeners to rush out and buy Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi?
      As an amateur singer I wish you well in your singing and many more years of enjoyment.

      • “I think there is snobbery and elitism amongst opera viewers/listeners”

        Not forgetting the inverted variety which decrees that anyone who likes opera and, worse still, has the audacity to defend their choice with facts, must be a snob.

        If you want to find real musical snobbery, try praising Abba in the company of a hard rock fan.

  3. “snobbery and elitism of the highest order”

    Nothing if not predictable.

    Is there any evidence that the masses are being inspired to look into opera in more detail? More likely to happen if a genuine opera singer received the sort of promotion that KJ enjoys.

    Nuclear physicist

    (actually, physics teacher)

  4. Marcus Davison says:

    Bradley Wiggins (La Jenkins’ contemporary, within a couple of months), as quoted in last Sunday’s Observer:

    “It’s nice to be recognised for achieving something in life, because so much of British culture is built on people being famous for not achieving anything”.


    • Bless him for saying that!

    • It would surprise me if that statement were not even more applicable to American culture.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      Exactly, that why we have such an abundance of trash TV like TOWIE, X Factor, Come Dine With Me, BGT, and Poop Star to Opera Star. Joe Public like the idea you can be rich and famous for doing sod all and be the next Cheryl Cole/ Kim Kardashian/ Kerry Katona etc.

  5. wurtfangler says:


    By extension then, someone who pops up on TV and displays their ‘keepie uppies’ skills should be described as a professional football player, giving the impression to all that they are capable of playing at Old Trafford?

    Or, would you trust your car to someone who called themselves a mechanic, because from time time they changed a spark plug? I don’t think so.

    I worked in a classical CD shop for many years, when the likes of Bocelli and Russell Watson were all the rage. The idea that they bring ‘the masses’ to opera is absolute tosh. All their fans want is more of the same. They DO NOT hear Nessun Dorma and then decide to listen to the complete works of Puccini. They want and expect their opera in easy, bite size chunks, without having to think about character, text, interpretation or drama.

    To suggest that the likes of madame Jenkins are a gateway to opera is like suggesting that McDonalds is a gateway to haute cuisine. McDonalds is fine,;there is nothing wrong with McDonalds; some of my best meals have been in McDonalds (OK, maybe not) – but that does not mean that it deserves to be placed alongside the best that Mark Hix or Raymond Blanc have to offer.

    And what is the problem with musicians wanting the best? Why SHOULD we all be aiming for mediocrity?

    Conductor (meaning I do actually conduct, not that I wave my arms around to CDs)

    • If this were Facebook, Wurtfangler, your comment would get a whopping big “Like” from me!

    • Well said.

      “All their fans want is more of the same.”

      Suspected as much.

    • @wurtfangler Agreed about popera not bringing the general public to opera, and I would extend the analogy to hearing the “Prayer”, “Ave Maria” or the “Angel” done in pop style not exactly leading the listener to go and pick up or buy a Bible. This might happen in a few cases but probably this would only strike a chord with the already converted. Quite frankly, the sanctimonious kitsch of the recent Mormon concert would put me off religion, but thankfully I am not dependent on such outside stimuli.

  6. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    I must be living under a rock because this is first time I actually took the time to listen to her. May I assume that she is singing in French throughout? I did catch a few words in spite of her pan-european diction. Her breath control is most unusual, I have never heard a singer of opera who at times breathes between every word; most phrases though are at least one bar long, lovely. Her descent into chest voice certainly must be an adventure in that dress. I am hoping to buy her new CD of Schubert lieder forthwith: Die schoene Mullerin (La belle sole Meuniere, sans doute).

    • Ha, ha, “pan-european” might be a good term to describe flattened out diction, but umlauts still exist in Germany, I am told. The “tu’s” were very anglais.
      KJ’s gowns despite some of the precarious bustlines, are on the whole, more attractive and better filled in than some of Fleming’s experiments in that direction.

      • richard carlisle says:


        Visual credit compliments very well deserved; what about the high B flats?

        And does she need lessons?

        • @richard carlisle You again! “And does she need lessons?”
          Apparently she doesn’t need lessons in how to exploit crossover and make loads of money. For that “genre” any kind of slap up voice production or diction is acceptable as long as one looks the part. From what I read, KJ did not graduate the RCM in singing but got a teacher’s certificate. WIth that kind of sloppy (and even ugly at times) production, she would not get into the first year of any top music school. There are no high Bb’s in this particular clip and even if she chirped a few every now and then, the point is integrating high notes and low into the overall line which in the Mormon concert was a disaster.

          • Victoria Clarke says:

            Is it true that she was admitted to the Royal Academy by mistake as their was another applicant, a cellist called Katherine Jenkinson in her year and they got a bit confused?

        • Victoria Clarke says:

          Katherine very much does need lessons, firstly to improve her technique, breathing and support, which would fix her slack tuning and allow her to sing unamplified, secondly to improve her diction, and her languages. This cracked, maybe an opera role would not be out of the question. But she is making lots of money doing what she’s doing, so as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      • Personally I have always liked umlauts. They can be very tasty, especially with extra cheese and bacon.

      • To be fair, Ms. Fleming is 25 years older, after all, and is much more a French couture kind of diva. I suspect she would find most of Ms. Jenkins’ gowns generic and derivative.

        I am astounded, after listening to some of this concert, that Jenkins can exhibit the wide vibrato of a 50+ year old woman while the 54-year-old Fleming, fashion inferiority aside, does not.

  7. The main problem (IMHO) is that the two sides are in conflict about how to increase the audience for classical music. Those that are “in” wish to raise the level of the public to appreciate the good. Those that are “not in”, wish to dumb down. Unfortunately the “not ins” include the record labels and a lot of broadcast media, always willing to make some money from the great unwashed.

    Sits back and puts on his Red Adair flame-retardant suit.

    • Ahem (clears throat). Speaking on behalf of the Holy Operatic Grandiosely Washable Aspirant Society of Hipsters (HOGWASH), I wish to say that we resemble that remark. Furthermore I…(aside)…whaddya mean I’m sacked? I…oh well, back to the CD shop.

  8. What someone calls a performer is not the question. What should really be addressed is the vast audience that think that Katherine Jenkins can sing, and that how she performs famous arias is how they really go. We need to teach audiences to recognise rubbish when they see and hear it. But alas even “proper” performers are sometimes greeted with ovations when they have given mediocre performances, just because audiences don’t listen, and believe hype. It was heartening on Sunday to see the huge number of comments criticising Lesley Garrett for her awful performance of the National Anthem in Paris. At least cycle fans would appear not to be deaf!

  9. I’m no fan of Katherine Jenkins, but the complaint here should definitely be directed at the poor researching of the BBC, not Ms Jenkins – I didn’t see the piece this morning, but whenever I’ve heard her interviwed in the past she does not describe herself as an opera singer, and depairs at the record company marketing departments who insist on labelling her as such.

    • Ah but Sarah, she’s guilty by omission. She may not introduce herself as an opera singer but she does not object when others do and is quite happy to be introduced as such.

      • Exactly, you’ve hit the nail on the head!

        • Victoria Clarke says:

          I’m sure that Liz Rosenberg who acts as Katherine’s publicist has no problem in selling her as an opera singer. That’s a publicists job, to take advantage of the mass media and portray their client in a positive manner. KJ is not just guilty by omission, but by hiring PR to actually portray her as something she is clearly not.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      I heard a few bits via a specialist at the BVA concerning Lesley’s voice problems back in 2006. She obviously has developed physiological vocal problems which have taken her off of the opera stage, but as a celeb I’m sure she has no problems accepting engagements like this. I have some of her CD’s from the nineties, and I’m sure she used to have a much better voice than this!! What a shame. One thinks Julie Andrews.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      You know of course though, if they hadn’t picked Lesley to do this, it would have been K J. Who is the lesser of two evils!?

  10. @ Paul. You couldn’t be further off the mark. I’ve written and researched this subject at some length. Donal is entirely right in squashing La Jenkins’s claims to be an opera singer. She isn’t one. The claim that the likes of Jenkins, Potts, Bocelli and the other fakes who butcher our beloved art form will lead the public into checking out the real McCoy is utter balderdash. I was told by a Universal executive that Pavarotti’s hugely successful rendition of Nessun Dorma for the 1990 World Cup didn’t lead to any increase in sales of the boxed set of ‘Turandot.’

    The accusation of snobbery at those who would criticise La Jenkins is a cheap and low one. Personally I love many forms of music. Though I was an operatic soloist for 15 years I now sing almost exclusively Jewish and Italian folk music. I have around 300 reggae records. But I won’t accept fakery and bullshit. Those who attack the woman for posing as something she isn’t are right to do so.

  11. Wanderer says:

    Tragic misconception.

    People don’t come to classical music by being passively “exposed” to it.

    They come to it because they are actively LOOKING.

    But Panem et Circenses for the masses, yes, it’s always been like that, it’s showbiz.

    I remember some funny SciFi movie decades ago, where aliens come to a post-human apocalyptic earth and find in the ruins MickeyMouse cartoons and then start to wonder what a cute and funny species homo sapiens actually was…

    That’s a perfect metaphor for someone looking for classical music and coming across the likes Katherine Jenkins.

  12. richard carlisle says:

    To be fair, her pitch control was not the usual familiar unlistenable disaster– other faults notwithstanding.

  13. Helena H says:

    I always had a feeling that KJ is lacking a ‘actress ‘ component in herself to be an opera singer but let her call herself to be an opera singer, no great damage to opera or opera singers

    • “no great damage to opera or opera singers”

      Really? See JSM, below.

      Furthermore, people who haven’t heard the real thing are being seriously short changed.

      • HelenaH says:

        KJ will not make someone to go to see a opera nor will she put someone off it. Love for music, opera, drama of it, warmth of human voice expressing emotions is what takes people to the opera. KJ swims in shallow waters while opera singers in deep waters. Let her be what she would like to be.
        BTW I am not KJ fan

        • I suggest you google the idiom “short changed”.

          The point is, people who think that they might like opera judge it by what they hear on TV and radio stations like Classic FM – another serial offender. If they think that KJ is as good as it gets, the reputation of opera is being damaged and people are missing out.

          Describing KJ as an opera singer is not free of consequences.

        • Victoria Clarke says:

          I agree with Barry. The general public will never develop a love for opera as an art form based on the way it is misrepresented in the media, by Kj’s own admissions opera singers are fat ugly old ladies with viking helmets. I feel sorry that Wynn Evans, the Go Compare !! Man has been sucked into this, it was obviously just for the sake of money, but he could have been a legitimate operatic tenor. Instead we add more fuel to the fire, and more misinformation for the public. If this is not damaging to opera, I’d like you to explain to me what is.

          • I don’t follow football but I believe it has certain rules about “bringing the game into disrepute”. I think opera companies need something similar. Wynn Evans is reinforcing every lazy stereotype there is, undermining the work of people who are trying hard to attract new audiences, and I’d be quite happy if he never worked in an opera house again.

            I know that sounds hard, but he’s trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      She is acting at being an opera singer.

  14. Pauline Berenson says:

    Here, here! Kathryn Jenkins is a very pretty singer, but not an ‘opera singer’. She wouldn’t have the technique or stamina to get through a whole role.

  15. As someone who has been a professional opera singer (yes,really!) and now teaches the next generation, it sickens me heartily that there are tens and tens of really phenomenal young classical singers – both students and emerging professionals, who, with a tenth of the marketing and exposure of “La J” could finally make a living and pay off some of the extreme debts they incur in studying all those years to be able to sing professionally. Why spend all that promotional money promoting mediocrity ,when with the same funds, you could be promoting REAL singing talent. Am available for a consultancy role to broker deals with these young singers at NO FEE if anyone influential is reading and able to offer a leg-up to great new opera talent instead.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      The truth is, the public do not want to think, and mediocrity does not challenge them. Real opera is emotional, deep and sometimes harrowing. Let’s just listen to some fun music and be happy!! Lol

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        By the way, I have huge debts from my university training, and I know dozens of classical singers from my uni that have given up and gone back to jobs that pay, like office work, fast food and chambermaiding. Most of them were just as talented if not more than KJ, and none of them were ugly with cow horns.

  16. I don’t know Ms Jenkins or her singing at all, but I would like to say as a general comment to those who play the elitism card that lowering the artistic standards of opera will not help to grow its audiences. It is simply the wrong way to go.

    • Richard Barker says:

      Very well said.

    • It’s not about elitism. Here we go again. As soon as you criticise, you get called the elite. It’s about being truthful about one’s capabilities, and calling yourself something that you are not is not fair to those opera singers who are real opera singers. I’m more of an opera singer than she is because I have been in opera, but I’m not a celebrity for consumption on mega-bucks, as most opera singers!

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        Katherine is probably the most elitist singer you could possibly name. Anyone who like to swan about at high society parties with her wealthy and corrupt friends, wearing her Alexander Mc Queen is certainly more elitist than any opera singer I’ve ever known.

  17. JSM – well said! Do we know each other?

  18. Richard Barker says:

    I have worked in over fifty opera houses in different countries for nearly 40 years, and have met and coached hundreds of opera singers, famous and otherwise. Now who is this lady you’re talking about?

    • Richard Barker says:

      (I should add that I don’t watch British television, it seems from other people’s comments that if i did i might have come across her.)

      • This lady being talked about is considered a ‘right bird’ by some in the U.K. and elsewhere. Mind you, the problem of bringing ‘right birds’ to mind has been highlighted by Peter Sellers

    • Well, she’s a Welsh mezzo-soprano who has sung all over the world as an ‘opera singer’ but never sung in an opera in her life. She’s always in a strappy dress, very low cut, and very paroxide hair. She was originally a school teacher, and if you look on YouTube, you will find her in many countries singing, finishing with “I am now going to sing in Welsh!” Perhaps I should start advertising myself as a plumber – which of course I’m not!! She happens to sing and dress in a way that the majority of people like – ie celebrity culture. She has been on American tv and not just British tv. In fact she’s rarely on British tv unless it’s for some Royal occasion, but everywhere else, and on American tv (I think it’s American) as a dancer!! There was news that she was going to go and live in America. Hope this fills you in!! You won’t have coached her as she’s not an opera singer, she’s a singer who happens to sing some opera – Nessun Dorma as well!!.

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        I’m expecting her to be on the New Years honours list, for services to classical music.

  19. I will accept KJ as an opera singer when they start engaging untalented pretty-boy players into Premier League soccer teams…

  20. What a pity KJ can’t be prosecuted under the ‘Trades Description Act’

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      The music industry should be subject to a ‘ trades descriptions’ act of some kind, with the amount of deception that is being marketed by miming live acts, autotune, overdubs, ghost vocalists and session musicians, it has become almost impossible for the record buying public to discern who or what performed or produced the sound you are hearing.

  21. Alexander says:

    She’s exactly like a grown-up Jackie Evancho. But then of course Jackie’s voice will be ruined long before she gets to this age.

  22. I don’t have any problem with musicians doing what they feel like doing. To each their own, if you want to listen to bad singing then that’s your right. Everyone has the right to bad taste. What does bother me is the misuse of terms with absolute definitions, and the disregard of verifiable facts.

    A sample sentence that includes terms with an absolute definition, and verifiable facts:
    Katherine Jenkins is not an opera singer, and cannot do what an opera singer does.

    This is not a value judgment, it is a statement of reality. If people want to spend their money on Katherine Jenkins instead of on my favorite opera singer, that is their right. However, it is dishonest for her to market herself as an opera singer, because she isn’t one. It is also unfair to real opera singers, because it spreads misinformation about their craft, and people should have correct information so they can make informed decisions.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      I think that to be honest, most people actually dislike opera. The Classic FM crowd just like the idea of being somewhat intellectual, if not educated. Katherine has made millions via Piers Morgan pandering to the puerile attempts of the masses to appear cultured. In fact, many of the popular artists even up to and including Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj are far more culturally relevant than Ms. Jenkins, who is shameless in leeching off of a legitimate art form, and giving nothing back of value to culture whatsoever.

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        Oh, jolly whatto, did you see Katherine Jenkins singing for the Queen? It was absolutely divine, Henry. Let’s go to the Polo!

  23. Randolph Magri-Overend says:

    If Ms Jenkins was unable to fill a dress with bumps in the proper places, she would not appear on TV as regularly and be called an opera singer. Which only goes to prove Sigmund Freud was right after all!

    • Sigmund Freud? Who for? For the object of the discussion or for the other side? What about Adele and her appearances on TV? Case of Deborah Voigt?

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        Adele unfortunately is another over hyped individual with extremely poor vocal technique. No professional singer should require vocal cord operations at any time in their career, least of all at the age of 23. Adele’s voice is a time bomb, and her immature comments about not wanting to pay tax were very hypocritical seeing as she used the NHS.

    • Yes, I agree. She actually looked somewhat slutty for the National Anthem at the Queen’s Jubilee at the Derby in a field on a freezing cold day. BUT the plebs all loved it, and it’s not about snobbery. Opera singers spend years and lots of money (for little return until the celebrity culture crept into classical music) on refining their craft and art, and keeping their voices in good shape so they can actually sing an opera – or operatic arias without a microphone in an opera house or concert hall. I am writing this as I watch Barenboim conduct the Proms and all those Israeli and Palestinians playing Beethoven in his East-West Divan Orchestra. Real music making – and yes with singers tomorrow night – and no celebrity culture. Performing the music in as best a way they can after hours and hours of training and rehearsals – and also the case for most singers in the real classical world as opposed to celebrities like KJ – for the right reasons, and be proud that they can also earn a living out of something they really love doing – interpreting music, not showing off a frock!

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        But I guess the soloists won’t be getting £ 250, 000 and column inches in the Daily Maul for their effort will they! Lol

  24. This issue, which comes up time and time again with the usual “leave them alone, they’re nice/popular, you’re an elitist snob etc” arguments could be laid to rest if someone with more money than sense would cast them in a fully staged, unamplified opera production, broadcast at the same time for all to see and hear on TV.

    I’d be astonished, however, if they agreed to do it.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      What about Philip Green? He obviously has more money than sense and as he invited Katherine to his 60th birthday party, they are obviously very good buddies indeed. What do you think would be a suitable role for her? She claims to fancy playing Cherubino, but I don’t think she has realised that Cherubino is a boy and she will have to strap her boobs down.

      • Tosca.

        Numerous opportunities for her singing AND ACTING abilities to shine ;)

        • Victoria Clarke says:

          Hmmm, the only aria I sing from Tosca is Vissi d’arte, and as that has the high Bb I’ll expect it to be transposed down a third, and in English like her lamentable One Fine Day. The shepard boy it is then. Lol. Ehem.

          • “her lamentable One Fine Day”

            Haven’t had that pleasure. I think I’ll save it for another fine day.

  25. Randolph Magri-Overend says:

    Talking about the blind leading the blind, which you weren’t……they cast Andrea Bocelli in a staged ‘La Boheme’ years ago and televised it. Being blind, one wonders how Bocelli managed to follow the conductor’s beat. In fact who was following whom? To my knowledge the exercise hasn’t happened again.

    • At least he would be able to get through an opera vocally, but sadly not production-wise because of his disability. I have been in Boheme and unless he stood still and everyone else moved, I can’t imagine how it happened when you cannot see the conductor but can’t actually see your fellow singers on stage and, dare I say, use eye contact.

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        I like Andrea. He comes over as a very honest and humble man. I think it would be nice to see more people with disabilities in the media, even though they do not fit in with the mass media celebrity culture. Andrea has a lovely voice, admittedly more pop than opera, and it’s great to see such a lovely and brave man doing so well. I have worked in disabled theatre, and believe me, there is some great talent out there if people are given the chance to shine. Andrea is a fantastic role model for blind people everywhere.

  26. richard carlisle says:

    @ CJ

    ANOTHER CLUTTERED RESPONSE!!?? I sense a swelled head since winning the PP (persistence/perseverance) award just because you contributed 400 out of 500 comments in the Evancho Russia thread… but getting to serious: how did JK ever get her pitch under control this time– lip-synching? excessive rehearsal? coaching by you?

    BTW, my grandchildren may in time comment on KJ’s bust topography when she reaches Ms. Fleming’s age.

    • @richard carlisle You seem to have predictable taste in singers. Who are in the majority here, admirers of KJ or those who actually have their ears on straight?

    • She did not “get her pitch under control” and certainly not her aged-sounding vibrato. I shudder to think what that vibrato will sound like in 5 years, at an age when true opera singers are in their prime.

      When Ms. Jenkins announced loudly and proudly that the reason she could not get hired in an opera was because she was too beautiful, and then wondered why opera singers had to be ugly, she lost any tolerance or appreciation I may have possessed for her. The fact that she called herself both an opera star and an opera expert on Popstar to Opera Star sealed my opinion.

      I hasten to add, Ms. Jenkins’ CD sales, so oft-quoted here, were years prior. Her most recent releases have failed spectacularly. She is a celebrity in the UK and now to a lesser extent in the United States, for her looks, supposed humble personality and the idea that she has a good voice and is special. I note that few in the US care to buy a sample of her voice on a CD, while the UK have seemingly “been there, done that.” But in a culture of celebrity, it matters not whether her career remains successful, only that she appears successful and provides good gossip fodder.

      I would not compare Ms. Evancho to Ms. Jenkins. Ms. Evancho’s voice has far more potential, and unlike the adult in the equation, she appears truly humble and respectful.

      I say again, however, that I would rather classical music media wrote about the positive work being done by real opera singers than this woman. I have, of course, undermined my own statement by commenting here.

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        Ms. Evancho would do well, with her parents support, and a good voice coach to disappear from the lime light for a good ten years. This would allow her to grow up and make her own way rather than being sold out by Cowell and co as a novelty act. She could actually re establish herself as an adult rather than being a nine days wonder and burned out at 14 like Charlotte Church.

  27. Renee Fleming was not always in her 50s. I saw her in America when she was in her 30s. But Renee can sing and a consumate artist, and very humble when you hear her being interviewed and the hard start she had in life.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      Ms. Fleming still looks very good, so does Lesley Garret, Kiri and other singers in their fifties and sixties. Even Susan Boyle scrubs up well, which gives no value to Katherine arrogant comments that people are jealous of her beauty.

  28. richard carlisle says:


    My taste in singers is a KJ youtube on mute with Renee Fleming on a CD — same aria — and then trying to attain a reasonably close lip-synch… try to top that!

    Just now watching the opening ceremonies– a dream-like once in a lifetime spectacle!!


  29. A brilliant performance, superb. I have never enjoyed opera so much.

  30. Victoria Clarke says:

    This woman actually makes me feel quite ill, and of course very disappointed with the current tabloid celebrity culture. I know KJ isn’t very good, so do you, but the general public have been miseducated by the mass media and the likes of Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell into believing that people like her possess genuine talent. I graduated with my Music BA in 2007, and have just taken my fellowship performance diploma. I want to carry on training in opera, but I can’t really afford it as I have to care for my disabled mother. For this I get £ 50 per week, I do some busking and spend any money I get on lessons and masterclasses. I would like to do a course at the ENO, but who knows? By the time I save the money and get accepted I’ll probably be too old. KJ has at least £ 20 m and I see her doing very little but resting on her laurels, knowing full well she is a sham, but laughing at Joe Public for buying into it.

    • Victoria:

      This is exactly the sort of situation I had in mind when I objected to Helena H’s comment, above, that KJ does “no great damage to opera or opera singers”.

      Her thin skinned supporters with their knee jerk accusations of “elitism” should be challenged robustly at every opportunity.

  31. Victoria Clarke says:

    A quick scan of Youtube reveals very heated discussions regarding Ms. Jenkins, the very valid arguments from the educated opera fans, and the rabid snipes of the Jenkins fans accusing them of ‘ elitism’. Which is ironic seeing as Kj accepted £ 1 m to open the Harrods sale, spends thousands getting her hair and her boobs done, frequently pops up for the Queen at Royal galas, banks her millions offshore to avoid tax, and cosies up to Harry and Wills. Not elitist? Most opera singers I know have barely got a pot to piss in and work part time as waiters or cleaners because they love singing, but it isn’t high paid or regular work. How the hell is this elitist?

    • Brava! Indeed, the majority of opera singers are working class and working hard, while Jenkins, from a very young age, has been surrounded by assistants.

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        Makes you wonder how much she says is true. Have you had the misfortune of reading her auto biography or any of her interviews? She told Good Housekeeping that she was a trained singing teacher, which I don’t think is true at all. Does anyone know what her actual credentials are?

  32. Blame the messenger not Katherine but it is probably about time for Katherine to start correcting people so that she can avoid the bad vibes. I love opera and see at least 2 operas a month but also enjoy regular voices so have two of her DVD’s and her sining is fine. By no means Joyce Di Donato but we cannot all be Operalia Winners. Unfortunately she uses amplification so until she actually sings without it, nobody can tell whether she has the voice of an opera singer or not. Maybe it is time for her to actually say I will never be an opera singer or prove that she can sing with amplification. She certainly does not deserve the verbal abuse.

    • Richard Carlisle says:

      @ Liz

      Her most significant deficiency is pitch control… listen to her performance for the Queen and suffer through her miserable pitch errors … amplification doesn’t correct but exacerbates the problem.

  33. harold braun says:

    Bravo Mr.Byrne for finding the right words for such bullshit!

  34. Maybe be need an equivalent of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale).

    How about CAMRO? Main duty would be to inform the public, not patronise them, and hopefully they would steer themselves away from you-know-who.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      A society like you speak of would be a great idea, especially if it could break through some of the stereotypes, (Go Compare!!, Fat women with Viking helmets!!!), to show people that opera is still culturally relevant. Maybe start with some opera staged in modern dress, or operas staged for children like Fantastic Mr Fox, or Wild Things. Jerry Springer could have been a good start, but because of it’s controversial material and profanity served to alienate audiences even more. This needs some careful thought. If you do form ‘CAMRO’, you can count on me for support.

      • “This needs some careful thought.”

        It does – could backfire badly. Needs a few big hitters behind it, but not the ROH or R3. That would look like elitist bullying and make things worse. I would also expect fierce opposition from the likes of Classic FM (which does a good job overall, IMO).

        An opera company with less social baggage might work – Opera North for instance.

    • You’re really asking for trouble, aren’t you?

      Can you imagine the venom from the tabloids, not to mention the opposition from the huge vested interests involved?

      Good luck with that!

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        So a bit of tabloid venom scares you? I’m sure legitimate media such as Gramophone or Steve Silverman of the Telegraph would be happy to promote the idea, even if it did, upset a few KJ fans, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
        Go get em boys!!

        • It doesn’t scare me as such, but you must admit that, sadly, the word “opera” is a red rag to a bull in some circles. It isn’t hard to imagine “Opera toffs bully working class singer who done good”.

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the idea, but you have to anticipate the likely response, and the facts as discussed here won’t count for much, I’m afraid.

          • Victoria Clarke says:

            I am working class and I am not ashamed of my background. I have invested money, time and effort in my education without having a leg up from anyone. I am certainly not elitist, I despise elitism, and I am a socialist. What I object to is those who rake in millions of pounds doing something they can barely do, or are unqualified to do. Thank god KJ isn’t a brain surgeon. There would be a lot of dead people!
            Wage capping seems a good, and fair idea.

          • Victoria – I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. Perhaps I didn’t make it clear. My comment about “toffs” etc was a sarcastic attempt to predict the worst possible tabloid response which, I’m sure you’ll agree, likes to assume that everyone connected with real opera is an elitist toff. I don’t think they seriously believe it, but bringing out the worst in everyone sells newspapers. Moreover, “working class singer” was supposed to be their hero, KJ, whom they would see as being bullied by a toff opera establishment.

            Sorry if I caused any offence. Perhaps satire isn’t my strong point.

          • Victoria Clarke says:

            I think if I’d had the misfortune of meeting her when she was busking on the tube, I’d have grabbed her bucket and run. What a bloody liberty!! Those pitches are for real buskers who need real money, not for multi millionaires who need a cheap publicity stunt. Shame on her, and whoever put her up to it.

      • He has a point.

        KJ, in her opera singer guise, must be soaking up revenue which would otherwise be spent on the real thing. Why no reaction?

        Victoria – you say quite correctly that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but I fear that the publicity would probably go to KJ, not to real opera singers.

        So far as tabloid venom is concerned, I found this interesting:

        I’m still considering the CAMRO thing. Might be worth a letter to Steve Silverman. I find his “Twitter” wallpaper a bit offputting though.

        • Victoria Clarke says:

          Yes, I’ve seen the Saddo blog, he had that UNESCO Mozart award thing on their which Kaff won last year.

  35. Victoria Clarke says:

    Perhaps the best thing Katherine could do now, to redeem herself, would be to use some of her hard earned millions to set up an educational foundation to introduce opera to schools and community colleges in deprived areas. Maybe she could team up with either the ENO baylis programme, or Gareth Malone, there shouldn’t be any problems funding the project because the money could come from her personal funds. Being a former school teacher, and supposed trained voice teacher, I would expect her to have the necessary background and rapport to be able to present this effectively, and maybe direct some local college operatic performances.
    Yes, the Katherine Jenkins Community Opera Benevolent Fund sounds like a great idea. Could someone on the forum actually put this forward to Katherine herself?

    • Richard Carlisle says:

      @ VC

      Victoria, if you are not or haven’t been a celebrity you may not be aware they have a way of accelerating their spending at a rate dramatically excessive of their rate of take…even it they make efforts in the direction of frugality their accountant can occasionally be counted on to skim and leave the performer with surprisingly little in the way of “personal funds”.

      And don’t forget all the needy relatives who come before any form of charity… yes, personal funds I doubt but acting as a spokesperson for an interesting cause of any sort she would jump at I’m sure: the publicity would do her good after all.

      A subtle point about spreading opera to the masses is the “elite” — who contibute great amounts of support along the way — may consider this somewhat diluting in effect (lowering of standards, etc.) and not necessarily in their best interests, but that’s another discussion altogether.

      • Victoria Clarke says:

        No Richard. You have missed the point entirely. KJ does not need to defraud the system to avoid tax, she can spend her money on worthwhile education and enriching British culture instead of fiddling her stamp duty and banking offshore. If she has money to burn, which surely she has, and the teaching expertise she claims to have she could do a lot of good in the promotion of Opera, of which she is a highly publicised expert, and get some worthy PR in at the same time. It would probably cost her about the same as a couple of boob jobs and getting her roots done.

    • Victoria Clarke says:

      People in the so called deprived areas tend not to be exposed to opera because they do not consider it relevant to them. As Katherine has often stated she came from a working class background in Neath, but she came from a church choir background, not opera. It is unlikely that she was even exposed to opera as a youth. Opera needs to be repackaged in a way that makes it palatable, which means losing the stereotypes, and appealing to the X Factor generation. How to do this? Visits from singers, subsidised master classes, opera chorus work, costume and staging workshops? I don’t know, I’m just thinking how this could be done, and who would fund it. I am a member of Soundsense, but they mostly work in improvisation and world music because they take their clients to be working with the musically illiterate. Any ideas people?

  36. Victoria Clarke says:

    Don’t know if I can post this here, but it is very funny!! KJ’s Artist Direct i tunes page has been hacked by someone with a wicked sense of humour. I’m sure she didn’t call her album that…lol,,6236271-15216085,00.html

    Proves what people think of her, guess Universal haven’t noticed this yet!

  37. Victoria Clarke says:
    • Victoria Clarke says:

      Oh dear, the link hasn’t displayed properly here, but basically the title for her album ‘ Believe’ has been changed to ‘ King of a pile of s***.’

  38. Victoria Clarke says:

    Observe the hypocrites indeed.

  39. Victoria Clarke says:

    Where did this ridiculous concept that opera is an upper class reserve come from? If Kaff is working class, so what? So are most opera singers. Hard work and natural talent has nothing to do with what social class someone is born into, so why pretend it has? Admittedly, more money means more to invest in training with the best teachers, but class is, and should be, largely irrelevant.

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