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Popstar to Operastar

February 2, 2010

rolando.jpegThe British TV show, Popstar to Operastar, has been taking a lot of heat from critics who think that the series is inane and demeaning. The critics are not wrong. The show is really just good old fashioned gladiator stuff: put a bunch of pop singers in the ring with Mozart and Puccini and see who wins. It's really a fait accompli though the panel of judges - which includes the celebrated Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon (pictured) act as if the stakes are high.

But as dumb as Popstar to Operastar might be, it performs a serious function: In showing that you cannot train a pop singer to pull off an opera aria in a few weeks, the program demonstrates that learning to be an opera singer is extremely hard work and requires a large amount of time and talent. It also might get people who don't normally pay attention to opera to get out and see a few productions or maybe listen to some recordings by great singers.

I would be curious to see the ITV network do a reality series which operates in the opposite direction: I wonder if a bunch of trained opera singers could pull off fronting a rock band convincingly with only a few weeks of coaching? My guess is that the journey from "Operastar to Popstar" might be easier to manage than the other way around. But I don't suppose that it would make such compelling viewing.

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