Archives for April 23, 2009

Popera – the new generation of classical music

Katherine Jenkins, soprano

Katherine Jenkins, soprano

By: Sarah Fahey, guest blogger

Classical music is all around us; in films, TV commercials and even in sporting events – who can forget Luciano Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma at the 1990 World Cup – and yet there still exists this belief that Classical music is only for members of the upper echelons of society or, that opera is all about large Wagnerian women wearing Viking helmets.

So how do you make this type of music more appealing to a wider audience?

Perhaps the answer lies in the ever increasingly popular style known as Classical Crossover or Popera.


Classical Crossover artists attempt to bridge the gap between the classical and popular genres of music by performing classical and operatic hits but giving them a more modern feel and vice versa.

Many of the artists that perform this style of music are in their 20s-30s and classically trained, giving the style of music a younger, sexier image but without compromising on the quality of the sound they produce.

Yet whilst most artists are well received by audiences and enjoy a certain level of success, there still seems to be some resistance in fully embracing this style of music. There is no doubt that artists like Il Divo, Russell Watson and Katherine Jenkins have enjoyed global success and have been instrumental in bringing this style of music to a wider audience, yet are said by purists in the classical world to “dumb down” the music.

Il Divo

Il Divo

This suggests that whilst they would like classical music to be more accepted, they still wish to maintain a sense of elitism.

Opera companies try to entice younger audiences by offering reduced rate tickets to their productions, but if you are unfamiliar with an opera you may not feel you have a connection with the music and so may be reluctant to try it and see.

Crossover artists, in their concerts, will often explain the story behind a classical piece they are going to perform so that even if you are unfamiliar with it, you will be able to connect to the music through the story.

By including popular songs in their repertoire they also offer an assortment of styles reaching a broader audience without alienating a particular age group or class of people.
So does classical crossover bridge the gap between the two genres, or is singing a popular song in a foreign language with full orchestral, or playing a classical piece with a techno beat backing a bridge too far – the debate continues.

Sarah Fahey was born in London, England. She has a B.A. English, Philosophy and History from Open University in the UK. She enjoys travelling, reading, theatre, opera and all genres of music.

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