opera singers

opera singers
   Singers catch the public’s imagination, a phenomenon which is exploited by those marketing them, and singers’ photographs often feature on promotional material. Owing to the proliferation of mass media during the late twentieth century, singers in particular amongst musicians have benefited from access to a greatly increased audience. For the big names, this has meant international fame and fortunes. The Three Tenors (Carreras, Domingo and Pavarotti) are probably the best known classical singers in the world following the publicity generated by their 1990 concert linked to the football World Cup. Classically trained singers move in various directions (musicals, early or contemporary music), although the mainstream career path is opera, oratorio or recital work. The idea of the diva or prima donna, often taken to mean a tempera-mental but brilliant female opera star, continues and certain singers are given the respect of royalty. Maria Callas is seen by many as a legendary figure, and her recordings are still released and promoted posthumously. Similarly revered are Kirsten Flagstad, Birgit Nilsson, Joan Sutherland and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, along with younger names Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle and Kiri Te Kanawa, who became a household name in Britain following her appearance at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. The success during the 1980s of boy treble Aled Jones, famous for ‘Walking in the Air’ from the animated film of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, preceded that of treble Anthony Way in the 1990s with music featured in the television adaptation of Joanna Trollope’s The Choir. Both productions attracted interest from a new audience for this principally sacred repertoire.
   The ‘crossover’ phenomenon had an impact on singers from the 1980s onward, examples being Malcolm McLaren’s use of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly, and Montserrat Caballe’s collaboration with rock group Queen on the single ‘Barcelona’. Soprano Lesley Garrett, a star of English National Opera, was involved in several ventures aimed at popularizing operatic repertoire including a CD, Diva, A Soprano at the Movies (featuring classical vocal repertoire used in films), and her own television programme. Baritone Bryn Terfel’s career took off during the 1990s, including a CD of Rogers and Hammerstein songs amongst more traditional operatic and recital work. He has a strong following who travel overseas to hear him, and like many singers he has his own website.
   See also: opera
   Further reading
    Matheopoulos, H. (1998) Diva: The New Generation, London: Little, Brown & Co.
   ANDREA MARTIN

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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