Britain’s Got Opera!

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Britain and opera.

In 1990. I still lived in the UK and a friend from America was visiting. I remember him being amazed because the most popular song at the time – it was in the charts, played on the radio and was a favourite on pub jukeboxes – was Nessun Dorma performed by Luciano Pavarotti.

‘Only in England’ he would say ‘could the most popular song be an aria from a Puccini opera’.

But was this a unique, one-time thing? No. Fast forward to 2007 and the televised auditions for Britain’s Got Talent. Even if you haven’t seen the show, you’re probably familiar with the format because it was also franchised in the USA as America’s Got Talent.

If you’ve seen either version, you’ll know that some of the worst acts ever seen on TV take part in the auditions. And when a shy, dumpy little Welshman ambled onto the stage, expectations were low. You can see the clip below.

That scruffy little Welshman, a phone salesman by day, became a huge and respected star. Did you see in the video the reactions of the audience? People were wiping tears from their eyes. Even the judges were amazed, one saying that she was covered in goosepimples.

But, while taking nothing away from Paul’s voice, some asked was this because of Britain’s unaccountable love for opera or was it because Paul was singing such a popular aria? The latter, some suspected.

But let’s fast forward again, this time to 2012. This time, it was two people who entered the stage during the auditions for Britain’s Got Talent. The girl, Charlotte was nice-looking and casually dressed, and aged sixteen. The boy however, Jonathan, looked a mess.

At seventeen years old, Jonathan had long hair, a scruffy Jimi Hendrix t-shirt (and he seems like a lovely guy so apologies to Jonathan) and he was, well, fat. Not a bit overweight. Not ‘sturdy’.

See what happened below —


But did you hear the comments made by Simon Cowell? That Jonathan should ditch Charlotte? See what he had to say at the semi-final.

Just a few weeks after the series had finished, Britain was treated to the Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace. All Britain’s favourites performed including Alfie Boe. But although he is not a rock or pop singer, he is one of Britain’s top performers. Alfie is an opera singer.

See his performance below – with a twist at the end.

I love that and so did the crowd, including those in the royal box. (It doesn’t hurt that Alfie is easy on the eye and from the North of England 🙂 )

You remember how shy Jonathan was when we first met him at the auditions? Just two years later he was singing at the Last Night of the Proms. The Proms are an annual series of classical concerts culminating in a good-natured, raucous finale. See that shy teenager …

As a finale, let’s go back to where we started. See the video below of el maestro, Pavarotti, performing Nessun Dorma.


Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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