Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds
The Welsh warbler says she clings to her original fantasy of being a great Carmen. Click on her fan q&a video at 3:37.
I’d also like to see her play Carmen. Live, on a stage, with our Russell as Don José.
Suspect I’m in for a long wait.
No, you won’t be. She’s scheduled to sing it next year with our Russell as DJ and Jackie Evancho as Michaela. Amira Watzername is Frasquita. HD Broadcast to boot.
Her first dream might be to be an adequate bloody singer! Carmen comes later – much later!
Yes, if she were prepared to do the training, and spend a few years working in the chorus……
At what? Tennis? Squash? Tiddlywinks? And would she care who might win?
The phrase “in your dreams” does indeed seem especially apposite in this context, not least because she’s suggesed it herself.
The Three Tenors could at least all sing. Said Welsh Warbler (did Messiaen ever portray such a creature?), on the other hand, would surely be far better advised to team up with her compatriot to form a duo called “The Unsopranos” than to continue to harbour aspirations towards appearing in a rôle such as Carmen on an operatic stage.
Mention of Carmen and the sheer bizarrerie of all this reminds me of a commentary that I once read on the second of Sorabji’s 1922 Trois Pastiches for piano, on the famous Habanera from Carmen (and doubtless written with Busoni’s performance of his own then recent Carmen Fantasy to the forefront of his memory), to the effect that the composer had made it sound as though Carmen had wandered out of the cigarette factory into the marijuana field…
‘The three tenors could at least sing’ – slight understatement perhaps!
Of course – and transparently and intentionally so!
Maybe someone should simply call her bluff and offer her the role.
Love to see the excuses she’d squirm out with then.
“Sorry, can’t do it next Wednesday. I’ve got a hair appointment.”
But at least then, it’d shut her up and she’d stop pretending to be an opera singer.
I’m afraid that she might actually take the role. She is obviously arrogant and thinks very highly of her own vocal abilities…to say nothing of thinking highly of her own looks. She has stated that she thinks her looks are her great advantage. She also says that all opera singers are fat and ugly, so she’s too beautiful for opera. At least being offered the role might stop her from prattling on about how her great beauty prevents her from getting opera roles. Of course we can all look on the bright side of this. If she were offered the role and actually took it, we could all go hear this very comic interpretation of Carmen. Let’s all be sure to wear long raincoats, rainhats, and rainboots. The tomatoes are sure to be flying in the theater at all of the performances.
I like to think that Mr. Lebrecht posted this interview and quote to stimulate discussion, instead of the (mostly) petty potshots associated with the most stereotypically elitist aspects of classical music. As another commenter put it, this person is stating a “dream,” which might set her up for cheap one-liners, but I would also like to think that there are more people out there who would have productive things to say (naiveté on my part, I know).
In addition, please spare us any talk of “critical standards” or the harsh realities of the music industry; if you really care about such things, you’ll offer insights into what makes a good Carmen, rather than picking on an easy target.
Your sanctimonious comments overlook the fact that she’s brought this on herself. As Steve Silverman said, it is in allowing herself to be promoted as an opera singer that she has earned the scorn of those who care deeply about that particular art form. Crossover singers who refrain from making or allowing ridiculous claims or denigrating opera singers are generally left alone in this blog.
She shouldn’t pretend to be something she’s not, and then complain when comparisons are made. If I pretended to be a professional footballer, comparisons would me made. Elitism has nothing to do with it.
Andrew, please don’t confuse elitism with snobbery. We Classical musicians have to maintain extremely high levels of performance such like high level sports men and women. To do that we need to be elitist, i.e. the best of the best. It’s funny how no one refers to sports men and women as elitist… Anyway, Sadly Catherine’s singing it’s not up there with the elite. The sooner people understand the difference between snobbery and elitism the better.
Peter, also don’t confuse being elite with being elitist – which you do unequivocally above! Here’s a view from an educator, who is not a musician, but understands the concepts deeply. http://dougbelshaw.com/blog/2011/07/28/on-the-important-difference-between-elite-and-elitist/
A “good Carmen” can sing ALL of the acts of the opera. While it’s quite possible for many mezzos- especially young ones- to sing the first two acts, the card number in Act 3 and the last scene in Act 4 is where singers trip and fall. Ms Jenkins has neither the vocal nor acting ability to handle such a role. I’d love to sing Carmen also, but my desires don’t merit an article, nor should they.
Andrew. Very touching – but nonsense! She set herself up for this. It’s nothing to do with being elitist; it is about the fact that singing a major operatic role requires extraordinary abilities as well as dedication. There are many things that go into making a good Carmen and Ms Jenkins has none of them. What is there productive to say about a singer who fails to recognize she just doesn’t have what it takes to be a bona fide opera singer. The woman is musically deluded.
But has she ever said she is an opera singer?
She never corrects anyone who says that she is an opera singer. She doesn’t even correct people who introduce her as Dame Katherine Jenkins. This is an honor she has never achieved either. She has babbled on for years about how she will one day sing a role in an opera. This tells me that she considers herself to be able to compete with the real opera singers. If she’d just take Sarah Brightman’s attitude and like Brightman admit that she’s no opera singer all of the controversy would go away.
So, Spen, provided she doesn’t think she is an opera singer, it’s okay for her to want to sing Carmen – is that it? Hmmm….
Of course that’s ok. I want to sing Rossini’s Armida but I’m a 21 year old male, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting/dreaming it. She probably won’t do it anyway. And if she does there are probably people who will enjoy it. I probably won’t, but I don’t like Carmen anyway.
I was just wondering if she claims to be an opera singer, because some people say she does.
Come on! We love it really! Gives us such an opportunity to parade our self-righteous indignation!
But it’s not really about “us”, is it? I should think most readers of this blog prefer to listen to singers who actually sing in operas.
This is about casual or occasional listeners who who are being short changed because they think they are getting the real thing, and KJ’s shortcomings have already been identified, with examples, in earlier blogs.
Ask people who don’t normally listen to classical at all to name a handful of opera singers. You might be surprised at the names that come up. This is fine for the likes of KJ, but unfair on listeners who are taken in and on opera singers who are being overlooked.
Best comment yet, Alison. Thank you for putting it so well.
There are a lot better and a lot worse singers out there than Kate. If people enjoy hearing her then good luck to them.
Ah, but does she have to thighs to roll cigars…..and sing at the same time?
She’s more suited to being a car mechanic.
I expect Katherine values the words of Edward O. Wilson — “Without a hint of irony I can say I have been blessed with brilliant enemies ….I owe them a great debt, because they redoubled my energies and drove me in new directions.” Stand by for some surprises and delights!!
D.M.King I expect she also values the example of her namesake Florence Foster Jenkins, a woman of great energy who took opera in directions no one before her had ever envisaged.
Author, novelist, broadcaster, cultural commentator.
Follow him on FB: Facebook and on Twitter @NLebrecht
More Lebrecht @ normanlebrecht.com
Enter your email address:
April 17, 2014 1 Comment
April 16, 2014 8 Comments
April 15, 2014 5 Comments
April 15, 2014 4 Comments
April 14, 2014 28 Comments
April 14, 2014 3 Comments
April 14, 2014 6 Comments
April 14, 2014 Leave a Comment
April 13, 2014 13 Comments
April 13, 2014 4 Comments
an ArtsJournal blog