Opera's Children... and the Almost-forgotten Genre

Jackie Evancho photo - Courtesy of newcastleplayhouse.com
Jackie Evancho photo - Courtesy of newcastleplayhouse.com

Opera's Popularity

Many people know about the musical genre, opera. However, I've noticed that opera isn't a very popular genre, especially not to childen. Children nowadays go more for the light pop, Disney, Justin Bieber sound. As a young child, I realised that I liked opera but I never shared that with anyone because it wasn't 'cool'.

I've never forgotten the basic lyrics of "La Donna e Mobile" or "Habanera" and years later as I'm in college minoring in music, I'm able to recall those tunes and the lyrics and actually express my love for opera. I was trained to sing classically although I'm not a singer per se. I'm a pianist but I definitely have a thing for opera. You should know, however, that I'm in to almost every style of music.

What is Opera?

For those who don't know, an opera is actually a drama that is sung. Modern-day musicals actually originate from operas. The most known songs in the opera genre are called arias - songs sung by a solo voice as opposed to a chorus.

The late Luciano Pavarotti - The tenor of tenors!
The late Luciano Pavarotti - The tenor of tenors!

Opera's Kids

I was amazed when I discovered just last year that there are many young children out there who are very much into opera. In fact, these children defy their ages with breath taking performances and remarkable showcases of their well-trained vocal ability.

In this Hub, I've highlighted a few child opera singers, both well-known and not-so-well-known. I only wish to expose their talents - so to say - and not so much to give biographical information on them. I hope you enjoy the Hub nevertheless.

Charlotte Church

The first opera child star I came to 'know' was Charlotte Church. Though now 24 years of age, Charlotte quickly became an opera singing sensation when she appeared as a guest on 'The Big Talent Show' around the age of 11. She was there to introduce her aunt but she dazzled the audience with a brief taste of her own talents.When I saw the video of her on the show, and that child opened her mouth up to sing, I thought that some other person was backstage singing on her behalf, and that she was simply lipsyncing.

At the age of 14, Charlotte performed an impressive rendition of "Dream a Dream" with 12-year-old Billy Gilman. Billy is not an opera singer but he kept up perfectly well with Charlotte in this recording. I have posted the video below. Charlotte's childhood voice continues to surprise me. It was well-rounded, strong and pitch perfect.

Although Billy Gilman is not an opera singer, as I have mentioned, he's worthy of being featured as well. Billy Gilman was also a talented child singer. Currently, he does a lot of charity performances. Billy had a comforting, also very rounded, voice and as I said, he sang "Dream a Dream" very well with Charlotte.

Jackie Evancho

Some of you may have seen 10-year-old Jackie Evancho on the talent search show, America's Got Talent. My reaction when hearing Jackie sing was similar to my reaction when I heard Charlotte sing. She defied my expectations. I saw a cute little girl come onto the stage and then she opened her mouth and this powerful, womanly voice came out. I was shocked, to say the least.

Jackie has a CD that is currently unavailable on Amazon (as of September 1, 2010) but you can sign up to be alerted via e-mail when the CD becomes available.

Without further delay, I present Jackie Evancho, performing "O Mio Babbino Caro".

Alex Prior

I was happy to see that not just the young girls were interested in opera, but so were some young boys. I've chosen child prodigy Alex Prior to represent the opera boys out there. Alex's charm and confident leaks through his powerful tenor voice. Alex sings with such conviction - I think that's what impressed me the most.

He was born in 1992, and is currently a composer, director and conductor. The video I have chosen to show was his tribute to actress Meryl Streep. He was 12-year-old at the time and already described as 'Little Pavarotti' - which is a truly honourable nickname.

Not-Well-Known Opera Kids

The final two opera children I chose are very popular on youtube but not known very well on television or on a national level. Ekaterina Shelehova impressed me with her professional opera style. Ekaterina has many videos on youtube so it was hard to select one but finally, I chose her rendition of My Fair Lady's "Think of Me" - recorded when she was 12 years old. Ekaterina has her own website and I've given the link where audio downloads are available.

Leslie Marie Bernabe won my vote by singing one of my favourite opera styled songs - made famous by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman - "Time to Say Goodbye." Not only did she sing one of my favourite songs in this style, but she sang it well. She has a soothing and slightly raspy voice, uses good breathing control, intonation and lovely dynamics.

Leslie does have an album avaliable on Amazon, but sadly it's not in the opera style. Still I've featured it in the Amazon Capsule.

I'm sure there are many more opera children out there and though l may not write another Hub once I find them, I hope I've sparked your interest in these wonderful children, maybe even in this classic genre or at least exposed you to something new.

If opera is not your cup of tea, there's no surprise there and will not be taken with offence. :D

Thanks for reading!

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Comments 29 comments

allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 6 years ago from North Carolina

I was wondering what I could write about Jackie Evancho. You've let me in on other people to investigate as well. Thank you so much for this

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

I was a voice major in college and know how hard it can be to learn to sing in other languages, to learn a variety of repertoire, and to develop and keep your vocal instument in tip top shape.

This little girl, Jackie Evancho, is absolutely amazing. She has naturally what it takes most singers years to develop.

Thanks for a great hub

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Hello, guru. If you do write about Jackie, let me know. I'll love to read more about her myself.

Alekhouse, I tip my hat to you for being a voice major in college. I'm a piano minor so I'm always around the voice majors and I see how much work and constant practicing they have to do. Jackie really is amazing. She really surprised me.

Thank you both for commenting!

K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California

Opera's Kids... and the Almost-forgotten Genre, I had almost forgotten! ;`}

Very interesting article, and I enjoyed the videos very much. thank you for sharing this with us. I just love tinners, don't know why, I just do. Well done!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Haha, very funny, K9. I'm happy to share this article and the videos with you all. It was dear to my heart- so to speak - so I wanted to share it. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks!

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

What a lovely hub, Kimberly, and what talented young singers. Thank you for showcasing them. If opera is not a person's cup of tea, then they are missing out on one of the most wonderful forms of musical expression. You may have converted many of them with this beautiful hub.

I saw Jackie Evancho on TV and she has the amazing lyrical quality of a mature opera artiste. More power to her.

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Thanks Dr. BJ. I especially love your comment about people who do not like Opera. Well said! I sure hope I 'converted' some readers.

Wendy Krick profile image

Wendy Krick 6 years ago from Maryland

These children are so very Talleyrand. Thank you for sharing.

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Hi Wendy. It looks like you typed on a mobile device like I'm using right now. They tend to complete words incorrectly for you - like Talleyrand. I had to look up the word and finally came to the conclusion that it was a typo. Haha. Don't you love typos? Anyway, the children ARE very talented; I agree. Thank you for commenting.

marvalousnj profile image

marvalousnj 6 years ago from Central Jersey USA

I always enjoy reading about talented children. They outweigh the negative and should the highlighted. Opera is special mainly because of the discipline it demands.

Good hub Kaltopsyd & thanks for sharing.

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

You are so right, Marvalous. Our comment is much appreciated.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba

I am envious of the power of these kids voices.

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Me too, LeanMan, me too! :D

akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Now that's totally amazing - Jackie is unreal! It is wonderful to know that there are talented kids like that and then there are kids like me who become so overwhelmed by stage fright that she could not even do the bellow shakes on the accordion - or remember her piece on the piano! I think it is all about confidence though because my son Pat from an early age just played. That was just it - he just played for the pure love of it and did well. These kids are just like him - so talented that it just has to come out! That is the best kind of music maker!

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Hello, Ms. Audrey. Some children just 'got it.' It always amazes me, especially since I've had the honour to work with a few prodigies - when I was part of a music program years ago. Jackie really is amazing. I love her confidence in her singing and it's obvious that she FEELS the music too.

Your son inherited your talents but I guess he was just one of those kids that 'got it' - the passion and the comfort in it. It's great that you had a little music genius of your own! :D

Morgan F profile image

Morgan F 6 years ago from USA

These kids are amazing. Jackie Evancho was amazing! I heard her for the first time on America's got Talent the other night and I was completely blown away. It's amazing the talent that some people are born with.

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

It really is amazing, Morgan - how some children are just born with it. I never saw Jackie on TV... only on YouTube. Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting.

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Opera are just awesome, and the child is amazing really, Maita

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

I agree with both statements, Maita! Thank for commenting!

ACSutliff profile image

ACSutliff 6 years ago

Wow KAlto, aren't they amazing!?

Thank you so much for this peek into your musical tastes. I also love music, and I am so amazed with these kids! You have truly turned me on to opera, missy! I am especially happy to say that the way you wrote this hub made me keep on reading and click on each video (which is something I sometimes don't do just because of time). You write about opera very well!

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Wow, AC. Thanks for the high praise. I didn't think I did such a good job with this Hub. :) I've glad to have you as an opera convert. hehe. Thanks for commenting!

Zannie10 profile image

Zannie10 6 years ago

It is great that you wrote about Opera, a wonderful type of music! And it's great you mentioned very talanted children as well! I remember when I was younger, I always listened to Charlotte Church, she is very talanted indeed. I will be sure to listen to the music of the others you have mentioned as well :)

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Hi Zannie! I haven't seen you in a while! Thanks for stopping by. Charlotte Church is wonderful. Your comment is much appreciated.

mucha 6 years ago

another amazing opera child - Patrícia Jane?ková, 12 years old,Slovak,swho apears in Talentmania. check her videos :)

unce upon a time in the west


time to say goodbay


O mio babbino caro


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Oh my goodness! She's a beautiful singer. Such a precious voice. Thank you, mucha. Now I have more little opera singers to enjoy. :)

kitty 5 years ago

It's an interesting article, but I think it gives the wrong impression of what opera is. These children are all very talented, but they are not opera singers even though they do have beautiful voices and potential to become opera singers if they train for it and if this is what they want which isn't really clear for all of them.

One thing you forgot to mention when you talked about what opera is the lack of amplification. Singing an aria with a microphone is not the same as singing a role in an opera in an unamplified opera theater.

Still, these children are very talented.

Of people really interested in opera, they should check out Met HD broadcasts many of which are shown on PBS or go to a local opera theater. One can even watch an opera for free: PBS for example has a complete broadcast of Rigoletto movie made for Italian tv available on their website.

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 5 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Hello, kitty. I am aware of what 'real' opera is. I am a musician myself with background in vocals, and a friend who is currently an aspiring prima donna. This article was simply pointing out kids who are interested in the operatic style.

Thank you.

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Goldustmypaws 5 years ago

Oh my gosh! There is this little girl on YouTube, she is 7 years old. She is completely AMAZING, only child I have ever heard sing like her at that age is Jackie Evancho. You really must check her out at victoriasingstoyou. Personally, I could not believe what I was hearing.

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 5 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

haha, yes she is amazing. She's older than 7 now though, and still amazing! :)

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