Out here in S.E. Asia, we just got a British documentary about how a Welsh amateur opera singer saved Season One of “Britain’s Got Talent” from going right down the dumper. After a LONG parade of ABYSMAL acts, this scruffy guy called Potts shambled on and gave a stellar reading of “Nessun Dorma”. And from having been on the brink of murder, the crowd went MAD!
Potts went on to win, but ALMOST got pipped by a cute li’l six-year-old girl who sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. There wasn’t a dry seat in the house.
And now, curiously, history appears to be about to repeat itself. Here, we’re not far behind The States with “America’s Got Talent”. In season three of which, a FOUR-year-old cutie – with an UNCANNILY steady set of pipes – is up against ANOTHER amateur opera singer, who ALSO opened with Puccini’s masterpiece. A fat guy, this time.
Of course, opera “experts” pour scorn on BOTH these boys, claiming that whilst appearing BRILLIANT when ranged against bad impersonators, tumblers, “novelty” acts, adagio dancers – and people whose “talent” DEFIES description – by operatic standards, they’re both CRAP (but then, they said THAT of Mario Lanza).
The thing is, I’m no expert – but I saw both these chaps and misted up during BOTH their performances.
My standpoint is this: whilst a reasonable technical standard is obviously essential, once you have that, it’s all down to PASSION. I don’t care HOW technically brilliant one of these guys is – opera’s always about PASSION. THAT’S what people react to – and it’s THEY who buy the records.
When Giuseppe Verdi died in 1901, TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND ordinary people lined the funeral route in Milano. And unbidden, unrehearsed, they began singing the Hebrew Slaves Chorus from “Nabucco”.