What do you do when people are screaming and yelling about how great it is for a kid (age 9) to sing —
(a) a opera aria
(b) that has nothing to do with a subject that could concern a child
(c) is written for a male, a strong, powerful tenor
(d) and requires vocal power and more emotional depth than a child has
The judges on this program, of course, didn’t say, “Honey, you have a beautiful, sweet voice, and you are a lovely lyrical singer, but this material is wrong for you, especially since it causes you to distort your mouth, overdrop your jaw, and go flat on some of the pitches. You need to sing songs that are appropriate for a child.”
And, if you want to, you can find Beverly Sills singing opera arias as a child and, guess what? She sings them the way a child should sing them: effortlessly and easily in her child’s undistorted, unaffected voice. They were just high vocalizes for a kid who could live up there and there’s nothing wrong, really, in that.
No, they gave this sweet child a standing ovation. Kind of like applauding the “rubber man” at the circus sideshow — applause for amazement at what’s in front of your eyes.
In fact, if you look for versions of “Nessun Dorma” which is what I was doing, you can find all kinds of amazing things on YouTube that are downright scary bad but that have audiences screaming their approval. Michael Bolton, Sarah Brightman (in Las Vegas), on and on. Luciano, who made this aria a world famous tune, sang the piece the way it was intended to be sung. The others? It runs the gamut. All the people who write comments on YouTube and are in the audiences of these videos seem to be very happy.
This is indicative of the lack of musical and vocal education available to the general public. People like what they like and that’s that. It makes me wonder, then, why there is music education at all and what impact it has, if any, on the world at large. This takes us back to the problem with musical categories and the styles as individual aspects of the music marketplace. Saying they are all the same is a kind of ignorance. If you don’t know there are differences, if you don’t hear them, or recognize them if you are listening to them, you won’t sing them, or know not to sing them. Then, you get the kind of situation on the above YouTube clip. Figure that several adults, maybe more, music “experts” who work on the show, had to hear this kid and let her sing this way, and nobody objected? Nobody said, “NO!”??????
I don’t have any solutions. Just an observation that left me wondering.