7th February, 2014 / 11.00am - 4.00pm
8th November, 2021
Operatic singing occupies a precarious position in contemporary culture, with the inaccessibility of operatic singing identified as one of the primary factors that discourages new audiences.
One attempt to blur these perceived boundaries is the practice of recontextualising the operatic voice – often problematically called ‘crossover’ – in the contexts of other musical genres and traditions. Developed from a 19th-century practice of blurring ‘high’ and ‘low’ art (e.g. Dame Nellie Melba performing folk songs in her recitals), this recontextualising has become ubiquitous today, but all too often this practice often feels more like musical tourism than stylistic consolidation.
This presentation will consider the complex relationship between operatic and popular singing styles in crossover vocal practices, arguing that there are several key features of the operatic style that need to be better understood in relation to other singing traditions if we are ever going to untangle the socio-cultural issues of motivation, class, and identity in audience engagement with operatic crossover singing.