Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds
I am happy to see Mr. Carreras is doing well.
Gimme a break! He is an opera singer and she is not suppoed to be one. So how shall the twain meet?
Gimme, and everyone, a break! He retired from opera twenty years ago. Plus I was not aware that, in addition to all the other unwritten rules pertaining to opera, that opera singers were forbidden to associate with anyone outside of opera.
Jose Carreras is much more than just an opera singer. He is a great human being who has much in common with Jackie. Both started young after being influenced by a movie. Both are humanitarians, giving freely of their time and energy in support of worthy causes. And they both love to sing.
At the bank?
I find it fascinating that Jackie Evancho is constantly being chosen from the current crop of young talented sopranos to perform with world class artists. She seems to always be in demand. That alone speaks volumes for her abilities. According to our industry grapevine, since the Cirque du Soleil performance, the offers just keep pouring in. She has chosen wisely to appear with Jose Carreras.
What “young crop of sopranos” do you mean, @Holywells? Should we expect her to debut in Vienna soon? The “industry grapevine.” Ha!
With regard to Mr. Carreras, it was just a matter of time. He has carved a nice and quite lucrative crossover career, has he not? Well, good on him. If Jenkins, Church, Watson, Boe and Brightman have done it, certainly Evancho is next at bat. Or, perhaps at the pitch?
Is Domingo next for this very busy 12 year old? This is rather entertaining — for now.
Please be so kind as to take a moment of your time and explain to me, and my colleagues, the total breadth of your personal knowledge regarding the “industry grapevine” that I made reference to. We eagerly await your reply Miss Janey.
No. You made very clear claims and I requested information.
What “young crop of sopranos” did you mean when you wrote “Jackie Evancho is constantly being chosen from the current crop of young talented sopranos to perform with world class artists”? From whom is Ms. Evancho taking away work or being chosen?
I understood your very clear inference. Now, I ask you to support it with details.
While you are at it, please support the following: ” According to our industry grapevine, since the Cirque du Soleil performance, the offers just keep pouring in.” Who is “our” and what is this “industry grapevine”?
I await your details.
I have little doubt Ms. Evancho is receiving many job offers. Her most recent performance was impressive. I have significant doubt that any of her fans know any of the details. I also have significant doubt that any of these offers would be of interest to classical musicians, as implied. Perhaps you will prove me wrong.
When will people realize that ‘being in demand’ has nothing to do with ‘ability’? (See Rieu, K. Jenkins, etc.) Junk food and drugs are ‘in demand’, but I’m not sure how good they are for us.
Your statement is normal for a Jackie basher. Meaning it is completely asinine.
‘Being in demand’ has nothing to do with ‘ability’, (See Rieu, K. Jenkins, etc.)??? So by your reasoning ‘ability’ is best proven by the complete lack of ‘being in demand’. Therefore by your thought process you believe you are the king of ‘ability’.
You jump to, junk food and drugs, were the ‘in demand’ is then not compared to ‘ability’ but to your thoughts on how good they are for us. And as shown your thoughts on anything are without merit.
Do not embarrass yourself any further with an attempt to reply.
Dear Mr/Ms/Mrs Knightly, pot – kettle? I couldn’t possibly counter your convoluted, illogical ‘argument’. Just keep loving Jackie …..and perhaps sign up for a course in logic.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Sumi Jo, and now the legendary José Carreras have acknowledged Jackie is worthy of top-tier performer status.
Jackie Evancho is proving once again her talent shines so far above her critics that those who still voice opposition to her amazing gift of voice and stagecraft are now pitied for their profound ignorance.
So Dmitry should actually push for JE to sing with him at the Bolshoi. And sure, Sumi Jo went along with everything out of love and admiration, implied here to recognize the girl as being on her own level and not appearing in the Petersburg kitch concert to promote herself. Carreras is not giving his career another timely shot of adrenaline either. Gee, you people are naive!
maybe they have acknowledged Jackie, but the fact they they have performed with her does not mean in and of itself that they have acknowledged her. if one of their agents decides that they should perform together, or is given a lucrative offer in order to have them perform together, it will happen regardless of their opinions of one another.
In the case of Sumi Jo and Dmitry, the why they agreed to perform is immaterial. Before the event, Dmitry’s feeling about prodigies, including Jackie, was very well known.
But what does matter, is his and Sumi Jo’s opinions of Jackie after their first hand experience of performing with her.
“She is small and cute, with a voice that sounds freakishly adult. It lacks anything that might be mistaken for expression or character and occasionally veers off the note, but it’s a variety act, not an opera audition.”
Anyone remember who said that 19 months ago?
Yep, that’s what Carreras wants, a duet partner without expression or character who is off note. Because Janey and Cabbagejuice both know Carreras is a poseur.
How pathetic you people are.
@Stevemaury Please enlighten me as to what sin I committed to deserve such an attack? Never having met me, I wonder how you feel the right to personally characterize me so negatively? I have said nothing against Ms. Evancho. I have defended the child in recent threads. So please do explain the vitriol, and, I should say, apologize for it. It was uncalled-for and does not represent “your” singer well. I would venture she would be appalled.
“My” singer? I think not. She is her singer.
No attack. Merely my understanding of your opinion. Or did you not say this:
“Carreras is not giving his career another timely shot of adrenaline either. Gee, you people are naive!”
I absolutely did not say that. Those are not my words and that is not the manner in which I speak.
““Carreras is not giving his career another timely shot of adrenaline either. Gee, you people are naive!””
It was cabbagejuice who said that!
One of the few times I agree with Janey. She does generally have constructive things to say about ms evancho lately. Steve, play nice!
I don’t think she chose him, rather the tenor doesn’t have such a long roster of bonafide sopranos who will appear with him these days. If he won’t sing opera, or maybe a garbled quasi-operatic version of West Side Story, then the two can meet somewhere in the middle.
You got only one point right, he asked, and she was honored to accept. But after that everything else you said was garbage as always. You and those like you once upon a time angered me, but that was long ago, now feel nothing but pity for you. How terribly sad it must be to be you.
Jackie Evancho is a star in her own right. Despite the admission to the contrary from Jackie herself, some still see her as a budding Opera star. No matter. The fact Jackie is performing once again alongside the elite in their musical profession proves once again just how amazingly special this little girl really is to so many people who truly love a beautiful, ethereal, transcendent voice.
If you ever have the chance to see Jackie Perform in person you will see women, men, and even children with tears in their eyes when experiencing “The Jackie Effect”. Such surreal talent and emotion emanating from such a young girl has a profound result on her audience. Attending a performance forces you to leave any jaundiced view at home and allows you to witness first-hand exactly why Jackie Evancho enraptures so many.
Jackie Evancho is at the beginning of a very long and distinguished career. The explosion of interest and sales are also just beginning. Those who dislike her music will just have to learn to endure. The fan-base is growing day by day, and these are fans Jackie will have for the rest of her life.
Or will she be the next Charlotte Church?
Even wearing my ‘singing teacher hat’ that comment is not fair or reasonable. Miss Evancho’s technique is not at all like the technique Charlotte Church used at a similar age. Jacqui’s technique still allows her to float her high note like a treble.
My initial comment (very tongue in cheek) was isn’t he a bit old for her!! However, I’m sure he’ll be a gentleman and the duet will be a success.
I must say I was a sceptic until I analysed how she was singing. The way she produces her voice, especially the top notes, makes her sound like an exceptional child and not a wannabee adult. This makes a huge difference.
@Joanna Debenham – Thank you for your insight. Very appreciated, as usual. I am but a lowly opera fan, not a teacher, but even to my ears, Ms. Evancho’s high notes have always been her most beautiful. My concern has been her low notes (which come with a pronounced jaw wobble) and her very tight work schedule, which clearly includes much travel and numerous full concerts per month. I believe you are correct that she is an exceptional child, and I have long thought she has the talent to have a long and wonderful career. I simply hope the work today does not destroy at least some of the possibilities for tomorrow.
For example, below, although I suspect she has performed this better elsewhere.
Hi Johanna, maybe you missed a comment of mine directed to you, sandwiched now between about 270 posts in the other thread. The JE experience is somewhat different when not distracted by the visuals.
“Johanna, I agree with what you saying here the only caveat being that the tones, in particular, the high ones are well supported. Otherwise with such a heavy performing schedule, I think you know what happens. BOTW was far better than anything done at the Petersburg concert for instance. The problem there was the middle register and that’s where overcompensation with the jaw comes into play. Any training I had was starting with and strengthening the center of the voice before slowly going to the extremes. This I tried to explain to some fiercely protective fans and got the expected tomatoes in my face.”
I don’t think the high tones are supported any more than the lower ones that still evidence a vibrato. The musky quality everyone loves would probably disappear if she opened up and actually pronounced the words so an unprejudiced listener could understand them. Continuing to perform like this only compounds the problems.
Kids can float high tones without training but this doesn’t mean they should be thrust into the public arena. No one is going to convince me that 100 ft. in the air, strapped into a harness, probably sitting down, that JE was properly supporting the high notes. This is really risky especially at her stage. But as I said before everything is supposed to defy commonsense and even gravity.
Does that comment sound clever to you? If it does it is unfair of me to take advantage of you, but I don’t care. If you would like to make a bet as to what Jackie’s statis will be at let’s say age 21, I will be happy to give you odds. BUT be easy on yourself, because I WILL collect on the bet.
I will gladly take the same bet against her. I’ve already collected on bets I’ve made regarding Dessay, Villazon, and Kaufmann, all the same bet: that the performer will acquire vocal nodes less than five years into an operatic career.
You will be waiting a very long time indeed, for Jackie to start an operatic career.
Nothing wrong with this:-
Remember Offenbach wasn’t opera for a long time and neither were Porgy & Bess nor West Side Story.
Just be glad that there are those who treasure sweet, unaffected and beautiful singing without the obsessive need to label or pigeon-hole it. For the intransigent, think of the scores of ‘great’ 18th and 19th century composers of baroque and classical music who today are mere footnotes in obscure books of musicological history.
Offenbach was not an opera, true, but he did write the successful Tales of Hoffman and the rest of what are considered operettas. Similarly, Gershwin mainly wrote for musical theatre but did compose one work that first appeared on Broadway and later accepted as opera. Although Bernstein did want to write an American Opera, West Side Story is firmly in the musical theatre category.
Back to the topic, Carreras hooking up to Evancho is to me a gross mismatch. Unlike Bocelli he never really clenched it in the crossover field. Sharing the stage with a garbled version of the O Mio Babbino in Petersburg was bad enough but fortunately there were other better distractions for this kitchy event.
As for the link you provided, sure there is “nothing wrong” with a recording of a song if you already know the words or if they are not important. I couldn’t understand about 80% of them.
Stanley, of course there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with it. If you like sweet, then it’s for you. Lots of singers in the ‘folk’ era had beautiful voices (do you remember Joan Baez?), but there was no thought of them becoming opera singers. If Jose wants to supplement his pension singing undemanding tunes with a child, good luck to him. I heard Domingo singing in ‘Traviata’ from the Met on Saturday. Absolutely amazing! But then he could always act (see ‘Othello’) and not just sing.
Not to “supplement a pension”, but rather a tenor’s ego – pathetic in both cases however.
Listen to Carreras’s gorgeous voice in the mid 70′s. before he destroyed his lovely lyric Tenor by singing roles far to heavy for his Voice. At that time he had the most beautiful , expressive Timbre in the world. Sad
I agree 100% with your evaluation of his early voice but Leukemia didn’t help either, Drew.
Robert Redford explains here why he asked for her to audition to play his daughter in his new motion picture “The Company You Keep” (he saw her singing Puccini):
In my opinion, Jackie Evancho does a far better job singing the few operatic arias she performs than any of the greatest opera singers in history that I have heard on recordings singing popular songs. Adelina Patti, Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Rosa Ponselle, Pavoratti, Geraldine Farrar, Kiri Te Kanawa, Domingo, and many, many more cannot sing a popular song with any sense of naturalness. Opera singers are trained to force their sound; popular singers are not. A popular singer with a superior voice (and Miss Evancho certainly has that), can sing both types of song.
Yes, we’ll sign her up for Covent Garden today!
Perhaps we should allow Ms. Evancho to mature before we pronounce her the greatest?
Do you intend to claim that Ms. Evancho sounds as if she’s singing “pop” music? I have heard her sing opera arias, soundtrack and theatre pieces. Certainly not “pop”, and all are sung with the same pseudo-classical sound typical of “crossover”.
Compare Ms. Evancho’s “pop” singing style to the style of Ms. von Otter, Upshaw or Fleming on a traditional or non-classical song. I believe you will find much less of a “classical” sound from the latter women than from the former.
I will provide you a head start
I’m sure you’re acquainted with the expression “Horses for courses,” Janey.
You wouldn’t ask a Mozart or Rossini soprano to attempt Brunhilde, would you?
@Stanley Cohen – Simply responding to Jaan Salk. He suggested Ms.. Evancho could sing opera arias better than any opera singer in history while also singing “popular music” better than any classical singer who attempted it. I merely believe that numerous classical singers sing and have sung traditional artsongs/musical theatre in the appropriate non-classical style, and far more effectively than Ms. Evancho’s unaltered crossover style. Although, I have seen no evidence that Ms. Evancho has any desire to become a “pop” singer, so I doubt this bothers her.
Are you not a fan of von Otter’s non-classical forays?
Generally I have little interest in non-classical forays – they are simply opportunities explored by the artists’ management to maximise income. H
aving sung with the Philharmonia Chorus with Anne-Sophie as Margareta in Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust, I have too high a regard for her abilities to comment on what her management team choose to do.
Anne-Sophie was Margareta, not I, Janey…
One can question whether prodigies are displaying innate talent for music or a heightened ability to imitate, or maybe a mix of both,. Learning always implies some degree of imitation, and even requires it, especially in the early stages.
The judges say this 10 year old has an amazing voice (albeit forced) but I think it’s more an intended impression of Whitney Houston.
If you listened to the 8-year-old Carreras singing ‘La Donna e Mobile’ on a department store’s record-yourself facility, you’d understand that for the very few it is a God-given gift. Training and coaching merely refine the instrument and the brain that controls it.
“Jaan Salk… suggested Ms.. Evancho could sing opera arias better than any opera singer in history while also singing ‘popular music’ better than any classical singer who attempted it.”
Actually, Mr/Ms Salk said nothing of the sort. This is what s/he said:
“Jackie Evancho does a far better job singing the few operatic arias she performs than any of the greatest opera singers in history that I have heard on recordings singing popular songs.”
In other words, Jackie does a better job on operatic arias than opera singers do on popular songs. That’s all. Mr/Ms Salk does NOT say Jackie does a better job than opera singers on operatic arias. S/he just implies non-operatic singers may be more flexible & can sing a wider variety of music.
Actually, I’d disagree, at least in some cases. Renée Fleming, e.g., does a very nice job here on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, singing in a much lower register than her usual operatic soprano. This one is without the interview:
Thank you for actually reading and understanding what I wrote. I have no doubt that some opera singers sing popular, Broadway type songs quite well.
Regarding the readers who suggest Miss Evancho should not perform at her young age, but instead get further training, I refer to a legendary child prodigy pianist of the late 19th century – Josef Hofmann. He toured North America at the age of 11, creating a sensation quite comparable to Jackie Evancho in the present day. The Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children forced him to stop. When he returned to concertizing at the age of 18 (after studying with Anton Rubinstein), he always bemoaned the fact that he NEVER recovered his natural lack of fear in front of large audiences that he had as a child. Even though he became one of the supreme giants in his field (influencing Artur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, and Glenn Gould when they heard him when they were children), he ultimately was compromised by alcohol.
Awareness of audiences is one thing, jaan, but a young singer has the added burden of creating every note that they sing – unlike a pianist, for whom the notes already exist.
I may misunderstand your point, but it seems you are saying that no notes were ever written for “O mio babbino caro”, “nessun dorma”, “Somewhere” (from West Side Story), etc., etc., etc.
I believe you are mistaken
I think we may safely put it down to your misunderstanding my point, jaan, since I had hoped to convey the idea that a pianist already has the ‘notes’ available inside the piano whereas a singer needs to create them every time they wish to have them heard. I was not referring to the geniuses who wrote the notation of the arias you cite.
I do not know if you have ever played a piano, but top concert pianists have hundreds, if not a thousand, ways to strike a particular note. A note, for the piano, may be written, but the sound is totally created by the pianist. If pianists did not create individual sounds from the written notes, all pianists would sound the same. And we all know that is not the case.
With due reference to Norman’s most recent admonitions regarding scurrilous and defamatory posts, jaan, this is becoming more and more ridiculous since we both know that the skill of a competent pianist relies on their touch.
@homosapiens – Ah, with apologies. Yes, I did misunderstand what Mr. Salk said. I still do stand by the majority of my comment. I do not believe Ms. Evancho sings in anything like a “pop” voice, but there are many opera singers who do, and well.
I am quite fond of many things Ms. Fleming sings, but do not find that Hallelujah particularly convincing. She does far better in musical theatre and jazz. In general, I find Anne Sophie von Otter and Dawn Upshaw more consistent with regard to American classic pop and art song. Ms. Fleming has a distinct way with jazz.
This Halleluiah is nothing to rejoice over – ugh!
“…do not find that Hallelujah particularly convincing” a gross understatement in my view.
The point about singing comfortably in one’s range and not artificially pushed up or down, that’s where the substance or even of truth of the voice lies. Funny, Fleming could not understand that and does here a fake smoky contralto.
When you said Fleming’s “fake smoky contralto,” did you mean Hallelujah, Touch the Hand of Love or both? I gather you believe that she’s “forcing” her voice down into an uncomfortable range?
IIRC, she began singing blues & jazz, & didn’t decide to become an opera singer till her late teens. Did she sing this kind of music, in anything like this manner, during her early teens? Would you have felt then that she was forcing her voice down?
There’s a story, possibly apocryphal, about Caruso. The baritone singer suddenly became ill, so Caruso went out & sang his part. Supposedly he did very well, singing the part as well as the regular singer. Was he forcing his voice down?
Surely there are gifted singers who can sing up & down their registers. Most are limited in their facher, but not all. Nor are they necessarily forcing their voices.
Personally, I don’t find RF’s voice”fake” at all; her voice is almost always beautiful, regardless of the manner & content of her singing: opera, lieder, jazz, blues, pop or whatever. JMHO. Evidently we’ll have to agree to disagree about these things.
Thank you for posting the Touch the Hand of Love vid; very nice collaboration.
Both vids are for me unbearably contrived. There are soprano jazz singers, what is the problem with that? Edith Piaf sang low because that is where her voice was. That was the real thing. This to me is scraping the bottom of the barrel and sounds that way too.
I wasn’t around when Caruso sang a baritone role, so can’t really tell you if he was “forcing his voice”. The rule is however, Tenors can sing baritone at times but shouldn’t make a habit of it. The reverse is pretty near impossible. The same with low and high women’s voices. Caruso was not a light tenor, so I am sure he was more than OK.
Jackie turns 13 on 9 Apr 2013. Happy birthday Jackie.
Here’s part of a pre-concert press conference in Taiwan with José Carreras, Jackie Evancho, and conductor David Giménez. José explains his choice to invite Jackie:
Oops! ‘Should have been this one:
And a nice picture of the two of them:
A nice picture at the end of their concert:
Mr Lebrecht pushes the button and a crowd of contributors squeal.
Mr L has the excuse of wanting to enjoy the spectacle and, in a tangential way, express his wholly justified concern that attention and money that might go to classical music is being siphoned off by what, by any measure, is a second-best experience of great music, Classical Crossover.
But as for cabbagjuice , HomoSapiensLaptopicus, Janey et al, it’s difficult to understand their motivation. Neither party holds out hope they will convince the other. Both parties decline to be civil (consistently at any rate). There is little in the way of constructive analysis and certainly little if any humour in these posts. So where’s the fun or the benefit ? The phrases that come to mind to describe this tediously and predictable exchange are mean-spirited and self-indulgent.
Then why, oh hypocrite (you might ask) have you written this? Because I admire Jackie Evancho for what she is–an extraordinarily gifted child with a delightful personality who makes many, many people happy–and I wish there wasn’t this unwarrantedly negative material on the web to sully first-time Jackie Evancho admirers’ experience .
Those who are with me in these sentiments, consider doing Jackie a favour: think twice about contributing to Mr L’s blog. (And thank you, Mr L, being the gentleman liberal-minded man that you are, for permitting me to publish this appeal.)
Actually, cabbagejuice & I have been civil to each other most of the time lately. She’s made some excellent points, most recently about how tenors can sing baritone once in a while, & sopranos can sing alto, but they shouldn’t do it habitually. The converse would be a strain, though, since it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to sing significantly higher than one’s natural fach.
On the other thread, there’s a nice discussion beginning about Jackie’s Taiwan concert with José Carreras. It was a difficult situation, with intermittently heavy rain in a large (30K) outdoor venue, but they made the most of it. Jackie & the conductor (Carreras’ nephew) were also unfamiliar with each other, so the tempi were sometimes incompatible.
We’re all subject to the ravages of age (or, as Indiana Jones said, “it’s not the years, it’s the mileage!”), but Carreras clearly still loves to sing, & still puts lots of emotional expression into his work. It was an honor for Jackie to sing with him.
A generous and interesting reply, HSL. I commend you for your patience with Ms / Miss / Mrs cabbagejuice. While I have by no means read of all of cjuice’s contributions, the ones I have read are marked by knowledge but marred by arrogance, incivility, rudeness, and overweening self-regard. When I take a ride on Mr L’s train of comments, I find cj a most unpleasant fellow passenger.
No-one asked you to sit beside them. If Norman gave them a ticket, then so be it.
Author, novelist, broadcaster, cultural commentator.
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