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