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Desperation time: Downton Abbey hires a classical tenor

You will have read by now that the blundering period series of bewildering popularity has recruited Dame Kiri to boost its flagging spirits.

A sharp-eyed reader further informs us that the series has also roped in the British tenor Julian Ovenden, a Decca artist who has appeared twice at the Proms and is married to the operatic soprano, Kate Royal.

Julian, a musical theatre specialist who has sung in Sondheim and Rodgers and Hammerstein shows, describes himself as ‘a stage and screen actor’ – not, though he is classically trained, a professional singer (one in the family is probably enough). In Downton he will play – what else? – a British aristocrat.


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  1. Oh dear… Downton is REALLY getting silly now… seasons 1 and 2 were great and then 3 appeared to be written by nutters. I’m quite sure that if it weren’t for Dame Maggie, it would have lost all its viewers!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Why all the Downton bashing? If you don’t like it, don’t watch it!

  3. I’m not quite sure what point this posting is making. A programme that you don’t like, and presumably don’t watch, has hired an actor who describes himself as an actor, not a classical singer, and he’s playing a spoken role, not a singing one. Presumably you comment on every hiring of Sue Perkins with the same zeal?

  4. I very much enjoy Downton Abbey. It is the most popular show on PBS here in the states, a top 20 show, beating many overly-hyped major network and cable programs, with some of the youngest demographics for the network. It trends regularly on social media. It may be one of the biggest reasons why Congress won’t be able to touch PBS in this next budget cutting cycle (if they ever get around to doing their jobs). Unlike so many other programs on television, it is intelligent, witty, unique and complex.

    I am very much looking forward to Dame Kiri and to the next season of the show. I hope it will not be the last.

  5. Julian played Andrew Foyle (Michael Kitchen’s son) in FOYLE’S WAR, so it’s not as if he is ONLY a tenor (!). He’s also, like, acted in TV shows. I didn’t know he was married to Kate Royal but there are many such couples.

  6. Although I bashed Downton Abbey in my rebuttal to Prof. Bottici’s “Opera is dead” article, I would jump at the chance to guest star (then again, I’m not making any illusions that one art form is better than another)! This popular series has many parallels to the operatic genre – pretty sets, costumes and visceral human emotions. Good luck to Mr. Ovendon, and may Dame Kiri drag him over the proverbial coals!

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