fri 10/07/2020

BBC joins opera talent hunt | reviews, news & interviews

BBC joins opera talent hunt

BBC joins opera talent hunt

Opera is the new zeitgeist as BBC seeks to popularise it without selling out

The BBC launched today its own popular opera talent hunt (details below), while ITV's Popstar to Operastar has suffered heavy critical attack and disappointing public ratings. The BBC's Commissioning Editor for Music and Events, Jan Younghusband, added a private comment to our review of the ITV show here, pointing out: "My big struggle is how we bring this great entertainment [opera] to TV in a meaningful way without wrecking it."

The BBC's Passion for Opera plans in brief:

  • Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Rolando Villazón and Danielle de Niese present specially commissioned films for BBC TWO and FOUR revealing the life and art of an opera singer from a performer’s perspective (What Makes a Great Soprano, What Makes a Great Tenor and Diva Diaries)
  • BBC Radio 2 search for a new opera star in January with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa who will perform on stage with the soprano at BBC Proms in the Park in September (The Radio 2 Kiri Prize)
  • Stephen Fry and Rick Stein present programmes on BBC TWO and BBC FOUR about their personal operatic passions – Wagner and food fuelled the creative spirits involved in Italian opera (Stephen Fry on Wagner and Rick Stein - Food of the Italian Opera)
  • Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera presents a three-part series for BBC FOUR tracing the history of Italian opera (Opera Italia!)
  • Plácido Domingo in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra from the Royal Opera House. Graham Vick’s production of Verdi’s Othello with the Birmingham Opera Company and Glyndebourne’s new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, directed by Jonathan Kent.
  • New film on BBC TWO traces the work of acclaimed opera director Graham Vick on two of his most ground-breaking productions yet – Aida and Othello.

What do you think? Please comment below.

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I really haven't been a fan of Popstar to Operastar mainly because of the way it is presenting opera to the public. I know it's going to be hard to make Opera "trendy", but it's better to keep in place its integrity surely?

Indeed. But Tony Pappano's three BBC TV docs on Italian opera will restore that. And I have to say that though I couldn't face the show, I did see two minutes posted elsewhere of Danielle de Niese singing Mozart's 'Alleluia' on the programme (with some weird segue to popo), and thought what a great communicator she was, a good ambassadress for opera to the world at large. Helps that she looks gorgeous, but she does ooze musicality.

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