Are Jackie Evancho And Amira Willighagen Opera Singers?

Are Jackie Evancho And Amira Willighagen
Opera Singers?

Jackie Evancho rose to stardom some years ago. Where you in awe? I was not. On the contrary. I cringed. It was so contrived and non organic. Small girls should not sing this kind of repertory. They have nothing in their precious little bodies to suport an operatic expression.

It is even worse than if I would attempt singing the role of Isolde with full blown orchestra. And I’m certainly NOT made for Wagners dramatic repertory! But at least I have technical skills and well developed muscles to take care of my voice. And my breath control is just fine. Hence, I could undertake an aria, with piano, and still be true to my instrument.

Recently Amira Willighagen is the new child opera singer. Hey, did I say opera? Really!? Listen to this bright eyed, cute little girl.

Yes, I’m on a rant here. No shadow on the girls. I’m after the grownups creating this phenomena. Not only can’t Amira sing a phrase properly, but also she has no idea what she is singing about. And of course her italian is all over the place. I’m not saying she can’t sing. Of course she has talent! I’m just saying she’s not an opera singer.


There Is A Bigger Context

Jackie Evancho + Wagner

Me as Isolde? Eh, I don’t think so!

When I say “she has no idea what she is singing about” I’m into a bigger context than only understanding the words. I’m talking about culture, history and life experience. The experience of a woman, of a composer, of a librettist. And a lusting girl wanting to convince dad, the cute boy she just met is the one to marry!

Well, I’m not the only one appalled. Several article writers online are upset. Here is one written by Dr. Glenn Winters. And another one. Yet one more.

Since we think it is a bad thing and openly admit to our opinions, we get called envious, haters, bitter, purists, ignorant etc.

We Care, Deeply!

My opinion is the complete opposite. We do care, deeply. About the girls, the music, the art form in itself and the audience that has no fair chance to get to know opera in its full, transformational glory. Real opera, sung WITHOUT MICROPHONES!

I have yet another aspect of this that I will cover in another post. It touches upon what the western african musical tradition has to do with opera and why it is close to an insult to have children make believe perform in front of such large audiences.

Until then, write your opinion below, in a polite manner of course! :-)

(The sequel to this post can be found here)

Categories: Singers & Singing, Singers Business Blog


  • Suzanne Flink

    I totally agree! Years ago I taught 10 – 12 year-olds singing in Upplands Väsby Musikklasser. I worked with young voices on a high musical level, but always teaching them to use their voices like the children’s voices they were, though with careful breath control, good posture and using the head voice. No belting allowed! Children should sing as much as possible. But never never try to sound like grown ups. It will always lead to trouble, sooner or later!

    • Stella Scott

      I pretended opera when I was a kid. As you say, I did it with my kid voice. Eventually there will be a grown up voice there. What’s the hurry? This is all in the old circus/amusement park tradition, like the birded lady, the snake man, the grown voice kid. Thanks for commenting Suzanne!
      Stella Scott recently posted…How To Erase Your Poverty MindsetMy Profile

      • William Thomas

        Stella…Stella… negative. It might just be possible she will get more training and learn Italian and eventually become an adult that sounds like an adult. Being so negative only makes me wonder why. There are obviously many people that found her enjoyable and want to hear more. Maybe it is not perfect, I can’t say as positively as you can. But those that care about talent might just pay attention to her development. Maybe she will become something special. You do not need to spread negativity.

        • Claudio

          Right on, I prefer to hear this wonderful kid than some old fat lady in a music hall full of snobs!

          • LeAnn Jones

            So you think all opera singers are fat old ladies? You couldn’t be more wrong. Ever seen Renee Fleming? Anna Netrebko? Danielle di Niese? Elina Garanca? Marina Domashenko? Frederica von Stade? Elisabeth Schwartzkokpf? They’re all not only legitimate opera singers with wonderful operatic voices, but they’re all gorgeous. Besides, in opera it’s the voice that counts. If you have to listen to a voice coming out of a gorgeous person, then I pity you for the narrow minded, shallow person you are.

        • Janet James

          Your comment is very typical of people who know nothing about singing and vocal technique. Stella is NOT being negative. She is expressing concern that a talented little girl’s voice might be ruined by singing music that is age and skill level inappropriate for her. There is a reason that opera is sung by adults. Only a fully trained adult voice is capable of standing up to the rigors of singing opera. It’s very difficult music to sing and requires a voice that has been trained for it. Are you aware, for instance, that opera singers must learn to project their voices out over a large orchestra in a large theater without benefit of amplification? They also must sing in operas that last two to four hours in length. Also, as Stella intimated, not all roles written for a particular voice category can be sung by the same singer. Remember she said that her voice wouldn’t be appropriate for a role written by Wagner? There are a very few small operatic roles written for children, but these take into consideration a child’s delicate voice and limited range. The role of the young girl in Gianni Schicchi, who sings O mio babbino caro, is not one of those roles. you may find it enjoyable to listen to Amira, but I can assure that those of us (voice teachers and trained singers) who know something about singing, cringe the same way that Stella did when she heard Amira. We cringe because we know that singing opera before one is trained and ready for it can badly damage and in some cases ruin a voice. You are exactly who Stella was talking about when she mentioned that those of us who express fear for these kids’ voices are labeled haters, jealous, etc. Frankly, I’m tired of being called these names by people who have no knowledge of music. You’d think they might realize that voice teachers and trained singers know a bit more about singing and vocal technique than they do. Also, if you think that the recording execs and agents for these little kids care whether or not the children’s voices are well cared for so that they will last, think again. They are interested in making money RIGHT NOW and they don’t care a whole lot about the children’s futures. Stella is not spreading negativity. She is trying to make people realize that little children shouldn’t be on talent shows like this and they shouldn’t be singing opera. By the way, there are no well trained aspiring opera singers on these TV talent shows. Their teachers and parents wouldn’t allow it.

          • Stella Scott

            Thank you Janet for taking the time to give a knowledgeable view on this topic. :-)

            Charlotte Church is an eloquent example of how little concerns there is in the industry towards these small children. Since she has gone through it all, I think we can trust she is telling the truth of the matter with an in-depth inside perspective.
            Stella Scott recently posted…How To Keep Your Voice Young And Healty My Profile

        • Andrea Plamondon

          I think Jackie Evancho has one of the prettiest tones I have ever heard, but I do not (yet) find her to be a dramatic diva like Maria Callas, who was not known as much for the beauty of her voice as for her drama and power. I also understand what the professionals here are trying to convey…
          In the Spanish language they make a distinction between a voice that requires a microphone, and one that does not. This is what true opera is about. You are able to sing in front of an orchestra without a mike or you are truly not a professional opera singer. This is not to say that I think audiences should not enjoy the talents of other types of cross over singers and sopranos, but calling them opera singers is truly an insult to the tradition, training, skill and ‘natural’ physicality required to sing opera in the way it was meant to be sung, (without a microphone).
          In the United States we have lost respect for training, tradition, and skill in many fields, and have at the same time become enamored of child stars and other such idols in the entertainment world, and even in the political.
          Today, I am glad there are opportunities for different kinds of singers, and that classical cross over singers are bringing operatic repertoire to a larger audience. At the same time, I find myself saddened by the lack of respect that exists among much of the populace for the talent that is inherent in the human race; talent one might find in their own back yard, if they only took the time to look…

      • miguel

        hi stella…i do not know anything about opera and Mr.Ben, staying true to what he said, that people like me easily get amused and be blown away by the seemingly impossible feat that a 9 year old child could easily do. And yes, i was awe stricken, not because she sings in an operatic manner or Amira being an opera singer or the technicalities involved on how opera should be sung, felt, or sung correctly in the language that an aria is written. I was amazed because of the level of virtuosity that Amira has able to pull off. A normal child at that age as far as i know usually just play and fool around, watch tv, play computer games and fret most of the time. And that, i think makes this kind of “high brow” musical performance phenomenal, which millions of justine beiber, myley cyrus, rhianna and and other illuminati pop singers fans are not accustomed to listening in a day to day basis. Don’t get me wrong, stella, I belong bracket of those with zero knowledge in opera. Kidding aside, My stand on this is whether Jackie or Amira is a “true” opera singer or not, what is important is the innate nature of these two exceptional individual to influence and make a difference in some others lives; and that need not need any technicalities to what is true and not. My only concern is piranhas in the music industry are now so busy promoting and thinking on how they could maximize Amira’s full profitability potential and exploit her stellar the fullest extent, at any cost. I just saw a video where she sang on a benefit concert after which she has to go and record an album in U.K. where she looks so tired and exhausted. As the multimedia mogul Simon Cowell said; “strike while the iron is hot” $$$ “CATCHING” $$$. anyways, just spread all the love in the world and everything will be alright! …time to learn opera!! first aria; “Con te partirò”..good luck tome!..hahaha!

      • evelyn blake

        It sounds to me like you are threatened and jealous by competition. It’s quite pathetic when it involves little girls, who by the way, are more talented than you, I have heard you sing and I prefer Amira by a long shot. She may not bellow out the Italian language correctly, but she has never had singing lessons. Despite being self taught, she is beyond magnificent. Amria is to singing, as Einstein is to physics. In other words, her talent is genius. Furthermore,no one has forced her to sing. It is obvious that she loves it. Moreover, her parents are very concerned and cautious about the consequences of over working their daughter. Whether Amira becomes another Maria Callas is yet to be seen but it doesn’t matter. She has already proven to herself and the world that she is magnificent. She does not care what you think and neither does anyone that matters.

        • LeAnn Jones

          What a nasty venomous person you are. This post by Stella was not intended to be a forum for haters like you to vent their nastiness. You’re just the kind of person she was talking about who says that anyone who expresses concern for these little kids who sing opera is a hater and jealous. No we’re NOT! We just don’t want to see a child’s voice ruined by singing music that is way beyond their age and skill level. Opera is beyond their age and skill level. Singing like this can badly damage or even ruin a child’s voice. So what if nobody is forcing Amira to sing. What should be happening is that concerned vocal professionals should be telling Amira and her parents about the dangers of having a child sing music that could ruin a child’s fragile voice. One vocal professional said it best: These children are writing checks that their bodies can’t cash. Grow up, stop blasting Stella (and by the way, Stella’s voice is not the topic here), learn something about singing and vocal technique, and maybe you’ll understand why we’re concerned about these little “opera” kids.

      • sacide

        you need an audience as a singer and obviously these girls have audience. They might know the meanings of what they sing, maybe translated at least, and it doesn’t change the fact that they have angelic voices That may be some adults would dream of having but despite of all the understanding and education they can’t reach that level. I am sure their performances will grow more with education and than I can’t imagine the point when they become at your age 😉 I am suram with money as well they can provide the best composers, vocal teachers, just relax and watch their amazing God given talent.

        • cabbagejuice

          If you want to hear angelic voices, you can listen to the Vienna Boys’ Choir. There are plenty of little singing birds all over the world. The problem is putting them out in the public prematurely. They do not need an audience until they are developed and have the stamina to withstand the pressures of frequent performances.
          cabbagejuice recently posted…Eucharistic SymphonyMy Profile

  • ben

    Your concerns are duly noted but you need not worry…..Apparently, most people do not know what true operatic singing is. That’s why they assume that if a young girl sings an aria by Puccini, she must be an “opera singer.” Since the audiences of programs like AGT are not sophisticated about technique nor classical and operatic singing in general, they become impressed by the novelty of a young person singing what many would call, “high-brow” music.

    However, if they are paying attention, they soon discover that there is such a thing called “classical” singing which includes many operatic arias, sans the technique of a true opera singer. That’s where Miss Evancho makes her entrance. Her voice naturally sounds like an adult’s—that’s part of her gift—and it is beautiful to many listeners. Also, her inherent ability to understand music is demonstrated by her genius in phrasing.

    The young Amira may be another story. Young singers are now coming out of the woodwork attempting to emulate Jackie Evancho. But there is no real harm in that. Instead of offering negative criticism, let us wish her success and fulfillment in her future endeavors, for true talent wins out eventually and a young person who truly loves to sing and is good at it, can probably realize a lasting hobby if not a lifetime vocation.

    • Stella Scott

      Thank you for sharing your views ben. I don’t hear a voice naturally sounding like an adult with young Ms Evancho. I hear mimicking a sound.

      But my concern is on grander scale, not only the vocal development of young girls. The current approach is so shallow. As a society we need depth, and sublimation of emotion. There is a lot of crisis going on that tiny girls shoulders have to take. It is a huge responsibility to stand in front of thousands of people and live utp to THEIR projection and hopes of a miracle.

      I see cultural expressions as a kind of catharsis. A way to uplift you and give you strength. But also help to flush out the garbage. To act like a dustbin or a sewer in a sense. A society without art will not survive but choke from it’s own disposals!

      My next post will touch more on this dilemma.
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    • Karen

      Thank you Ben for not speaking as if we “I” that don’t know about Opera are Idiots. This young girl, whether she is imitating or singing, sounds great to me!!

      • ben

        Karen, you are quite welcome. :) I also love the voices of non-operatic singers like Jackie and Amira, whether they choose to sing arias, or, more contemporary music. My favorite is Jackie Evancho. Her voice is pleasing to me.
        Because beauty is in the ear of the beholder, we could be celebrating and carefully nurturing (as Stella suggests) the wealth of talent around us instead of arguing about it.

    • Dolf

      I am no expert on the topic. I noted your comments but feel its fair to say, Amira is just a gifted pretty little girl. She never said she was an opera singer and she admitted she listened to songs and then downloaded and sang the song she did, without any assistance from anyone, which in my opinion makes it even more remarkable. I think what is important and should be to you as knowledgeable about opera is that a kid wanted to sing that song. She needs all the support she deserves. Thanks

      • Stella Scott

        Of course Amira has talent Dolf, she’s just not an opera singer. Opera singer is a profession just like lawyer, nurse or mathematician. A kid good at math could have a future as a mathematician, but everybody knows that means further education at university level. Weird for some, but opera demands the same = years of education, at university level!
        Stella Scott recently posted…Carmen Doesn’t Have To Be That SeriousMy Profile

        • Ron Miller

          I find it somewhat insulting to the intelligence of amateurs here to keep repeating that “Amira is not an opera singer.” I believe that absolutely none of us ever believed that she, or Miss Evancho, are capable of starring in Carmen, sans microphone, over a full-volume orchestra.
          What we do believe is that their singing includes short operatic arias that are ethereal in their beauty. We must trust in their parents to prevent exploitation and in their teams of paid professionals to prevent injury to their tender young vocal cords.
          Human brains are hard-wired to respond with the evocation of profound emotion to the angelic singing of these two young ladies — i.e., we literally love to listen to them. As long as no harm is done to them, why are you compelled to continuously cast your pall over them with the irrelevant assertion that they’re not “opera singers?”

  • Ehkzu

    re: “contrived and non organic”

    Strictly speaking, all singing at the professional level is “contrived”–particularly operatic singing. It takes opera singers decades of contrivance–so to speak–to perfect their art, and the result (which I appreciate) sounds nothing like a “natural” untrained voice.

    I’ve seen clips of Beverly Sills singing coloratura arias at Jackie Evancho’s age. She sounded pretty darn “contrived” as well.

    The same goes for other vocal disciplines. Bulgarian traditional singing. Tuvan throat singing. American Jazz.

    Art IS contrivance.

    Of course that doesn’t mean that some people’s art doesn’t strike most knowledgeable people as inauthentic. In Hawaiian Pidgin they’ll say “Tryin’, brah?” And honestly, Amira Willeghagen’s singing strikes me that way. As if her sense of the music is extrinsic rather than intrinsic.

    However, I know nothing about her or her family, and others seem to greatly enjoy her singing. I worry about her belting–otolaryngologists get plenty of business from girls trying to sing Annie’s eponymous role–but otherwise I’m happy to leave her to her fans, and if she ever becomes artistically interesting I’ll revist her work.

    You do care, but I believe your concerns for these girls’ well-being are misplaced. Today millions of children–boys and girls–lead lives of starvation, of unrelenting, backbreaking labor and worse, in societies where a girl Jackie’s age would already be an unwilling mother with more on the way, unable to leave her house unless she’s shrouded head to toe. Not to mention the millions of girls subjected to the horror of FGM by their own mothers. Even here in America many thousands of little girls lead awful lives, yet if they go to the police they just get revictimized. These are the ones whose “precious little bodies” you should certainly worry about.

    However, at the same time, over the time our species has been on Earth (about a quarter of a million years), most children–boys and girls–have worked full work days from an earlier age than Jackie Evancho was when she “turned pro” at age 10.

    So by the standards of the human race overall, Jackie has a very light workload–four concerts a month on average, with very little practice in between. Especially since it’s by her own desire, as she has made clear in many interviews. The notion that children shouldn’t work at all is an overreaction to the real abuses of child labor in America and Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    re: “small girls should not sing this kind of repertory”

    I would not hire Jackie to sing Brunnhilde in a Ring Cycle production. Nor would I want her to sing, say, certain arias from Salomé. But then I don’t think she would either. But she has never said she’s an opera singer, nor have her parents, nor her label, Sony. When asked she tells interviewers that she’s a classical crossover singer, not an opera singer.

    Singing a role in an opera production differs vastly from singing an aria from an opera in concert. Opera singers typically assume these are one and the same, but that’s absurd on the face of it. In an opera, each aria should be sung in character, and should serve to advance the storyline, the characterization of the particular role, and the atmospherics of the production as well.

    But in concert–and particularly in a classical crossover concert, as opposed to a gala in which only opera arias are perfomed, the aria becomes a song–a song that has to stand alone. Instead of the singer being required to sing in character and advance the plot, the singer needs to extract the emotional universals from the aria and focus on those.

    Thus when Jackie performs “Nessun Dorma,” not only does she not need to convince us that she’s Prince Calaf inexplicably jonesing for a psychopathic serial killer princess–she needs to instead focus the listener on the emotional universals of the song–of powerful longing to overcome any and all obstacles to achieve some goal.

    That’s an emotion Jackie Evancho does understand–and probably understands better than most adults in fact, given the trajectory of her career so far.

    And while “O mio babbino caro” is about romantic love, to modern ears it sounds anything but lusty. In concert form it’s just a pretty tune that seems to be about tender affection. Reading more into it than that is what’s inappropriate.

    But ultimately it’s irrelevant what the singer understands. What matters is what the singer makes the listener understand. Years ago at the university I attended a chemistry class got a guest lecturer. The students were polled afterwards, and all agreed that it was the best chemistry lecture they’d ever heard, and that the lecturer must be an eminent chemist. In fact he was a professional actor who knew nada about chemistry. But he was able to communicate ideas about chemistry to the students better than the real chemistry professor could.

    But in the final analysis, what anyone understands varies greatly from person to person. A child who grew up in Sarajevo during the war there, when snipers were picking off your loved ones one by one, may know far more about life than a middle aged adult whose life has been more protected.

    Americans dislike the word “genius.” It feels undemocratic to us. But statistically, about 1/2% of Americans are geniuses–usually in some specialized area. Jackie Evancho seems like a bright but not exceptionally bright person in most areas. But people who know more about music than me–on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University–have identified Jackie Evancho as a genuine genius in the area of musical interpretation.

    If so, what comprises providing a good upbringing for her is going to differ radically from what comprises the same for someone of average abilities. She is highly articulate about her life choices and the compromises required by those choices–and accepts those compromises.

    And those who have followed her career for the past three or four years have seen that her parents have striven mightily to ensure that when Jackie is in her 30’s she’ll feel that her parents did right by her. They make sure that she does nothing to endanger her instrument–and that she stays grounded. Acting like a diva is strictly off limits.

    If you look into her life and art (not as an opera singer but as a classical crossover singer) more closely, you might find a lot to appreciate.

    • Stella Scott

      Hello Ehkzu!

      I certainly appreciate your lengthy argumentation, though my reply won’t be up to par. :-)

      This blog has a theme that includes opera. It does not include the suffering of children in the world. What I do on that account and what I know about it is not going to show up here. It’s part of another discussion taking place somewhere else.

      I happen to share my daily life with someone whom survived the war at Balkan and lived three years as a refugee. In other words, I have stories close at hand about the encounter with snipers, killed relatives, robbed youth and flight for your life of which I have no experience myself. My humbleness in front of those stories have no words.

      About the contrived singing.
      I do agree that art is contrived and I’m not at all saying opera is “natural”. It’s more a sensation I get in my body. Many trained, grown up singers and instrumentalists, regardless of genre give me an awkward tension in my body too.

      I use this talent of mine when I teach. In a swedish translation we would call it “communicating vessels” or in psychological terms “projective identification”. Which means I feel what is going on in the other person, but it is not actually mine. I can be right or I can be wrong, but it has served me extremely well when helping my students become comfortable with their own instruments, voice or other.

      And about romance and classical singing.
      In my opinion there is a lot of sex oozing in opera and art song. If anyone finds my way of looking at that as inappropriate, that is fine with me.

      Have a blessed day! :-)
      Stella Scott recently posted…Multiple streams of income for Opera SingersMy Profile

      • Ehkzu

        re: “In my opinion there is a lot of sex oozing in opera and art song.”

        Well, sure–to an adult who’s knowledgeable about the genre involved. But even with something as overtly erotic as Salomé’s Dance of the Seven Veils from Strauss’s eponymous opera, if I played just the music for a million American teens without giving them any context, virtually none would see the sexiness in it. Ditto Carmen’s passionate declaration of Libido Uber Alles. Or the Venusberg music from Tannhauser.

        Because the music isn’t innately sexy. Not to the average contemporary American. Not in comparison to Rihanna’s or Ke$ha’s latest party song. We who love classical music live in a rarefied environment far removed from that of most people. Comparative sales figures show this starkly.

        So when we see Jackie Evancho singing “O mio babbino caro” we may infer salacious overtones if we’re familiar with Gianni Schichi. Otherwise it’s just a tender-sounding ditty.

        And we must distinguish between what a song from an opera means when it’s sung inside the opera and what it means when it’s sung by itself, out of its story’s context.

        The affect of the singer matters too. When Julia Migenes sings her role in Carmen, in the film by Franco Rossi, she’s incandescent. Even an opera hater would see how sexy both she and her role are. But if a “park & bark”-type singer just stands there and belts out the same songs….night and day.

        When Jackie Evancho sings loves songs–she does a few–she doesn’t try to imitate the moves and sounds of an adult singing such love songs. Instead she speaks to the aspect of love–the agape, in Christian terms–that she does understand and know. We as adult listeners can add our own understandings to the experience, of course. But we should distinguish between what she’s sending and what we’re receiving.

        This extends to attire/hair/makeup. I saw Jackie Evancho perform a few months ago, accompanied by my politically and socially conservative devout Mormon spouse, and while she noted how Jackie Evancho is growing up, she felt that Jackie’s attire and behavior were wholly age-appropriate.
        Ehkzu recently posted…What should teenage singers wear?My Profile

          • cabbagejuice

            Hi Stella, I just stumbled on your blog and as a voice teacher myself I became interested in the child diva phenomenon.
            In the beginning, there were certain things that did not feel right, knowing how they go in a studio, although I was prepared to credit “prodigy” if it applied.
            Are these kids exceptions to the rules, or do they in a backhanded manner, prove them? Putting aside the uncorrected technical flaws that don’t necessarily cause damage immediately but as bad habits have a way of working into the voice, I still could not put my finger on what was not right. That is, until discovering “Lovers” done by Kathleen Battle and another video sung by Jackie Evancho that compares the two. It would be like putting tracing paper on a drawing and copying detailed nuances, phrasing and actual notes!
            Then, the floodgates: “Dark Waltz” done by Westenra, “Summer Knows” by Streisand, recently “La Vie en Rose” with a peculiar semblance to Dion and going all the way back to Phantom of the Opera done at the age of 8!
            People have said by way of defense, Jackie acknowledged to Sarah Brightman “how much she learned from her”. They didn’t note the arm gestures that were also lifted from her vids.
            Once I heard a recording of Aled Jones by chance singing
            “Pie Jesu” and it was so much like Evancho that I thought it was her. Only, Jones preceded her singing this by about 20 years!
            There is a remarkable similarity to Church not only in the repertoire chosen like Christmas carols but titles of records that use the word “dream”.
            Amira capped it all by admitting that she learned opera from watching youtube videos! Recently 7 year old Angelina Jordan showed how well kids can imitate by doing Billie Holiday and Fly Me to the Moon that even has hints of Sinatra.
            What has bugged me about Jackie fans (who swoop down on any site that happens to mention her), they are not willing to admit that her interpretations (if can be called such when they are copied from existing ones) don’t come from anywhere except her genius, or even the angels.
            They also excuse her flaws by saying it is classical crossover which doesn’t require according to them: good breathing, diction and absence of facial tension like a jaw waggle.
            Jackie’s fans are particularly goofy, elderly men as a rule who write volumes about her everyday on blogs having to do with her, make pilgrimages to her concerts and of course coming down like hawks on any hint of criticism.
            In the past, teenyboppers used to collect pictures of their favorite Beatle and go nuts over Elvis but now the situation has been reversed! Old guys are fixated on kids young enough to be their grandchildren. This alone would make me as a parent of the kids feel VERY creepy.

          • Johnathan Comer

            Ah. There she is. The woman whose fanaticism and vitriol has caused even some of her cohorts to back away from her. Constantly harping about anything and everything Jackie. This might surprise you but Jackie does have younger fans and female ones as well. Internationally as well nationally she has even more that are clammering to see her perform. She is a success and will continue to be a success no matter the amount of vitriol spewed forth by you about everything, and I do mean everything, from that amazing voice to the beautiful dresses she wears in her concerts, and even those that enjoy her concerts. We realize your hatred for the girl,and I think your cohorts are realizing this too. You see there is nothing that you can do or say to hurt her career. You have been wishing for her demise for going on 4 yrs now. You are just as fanatic about Jackie as her fans except in a bad way. I believe you have written more about your opinion of her than most of her fans. If there is a blog about her,sooner or later you will find your way to it as if you could make a difference about her success. Get a clue. You Can’t.

          • cabbagejuice

            Forgot to mention the intriguing similarities to “Bridge over Troubled Water” done by Church and practically everything that Brightman did including “Nessun Dorma” and “O Mio Babbino Caro”, Michael Feinstein in “Pure Imagination”, Julie Andrews in “When you Wish upon a Star”.

          • AJ

            Not surprised to find you here and not surprised to find you repeating the same stuff regarding Jackie again and again. The response will most likely be the same :-)
            So here goes. Jackie is supposted to record her 3rd PBS special this year and release her 5th album. She has headlined 80+ concerts, sang for dignataries and the Japan Royal family, and duetted with Jose Carreras, Sumi Jo, Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennet, Sarah Brightman, Katherine Jenkins, Vittorio Grigolo, Jumane Smith etc. The names alone bear testimony to the diversity and style of the songs she can sing …. and I can guarantee you that no one cares who she is copying or imitating. She has sold over 3 million albums; all before the age of 14. Most see her as a gifted vocalist with a phenomenly beautiful voice.

        • cabbagejuice

          AJ, if Jackie’s phenomenal voice is self-evident, why does she need the likes of you to scour the internet and defuse critcism? (It’s interesting how if one fan drops out, another comes to take his place.)
          I was just having a conversation with another voice professional whose views are similar to mine.
          Amira’s internet hits so far have passed 20 million. From the last reports of Jackie’s concerts, ticket sales hover less than 60% capacity. Her albums are barely seling now which also gives an indication of her universal appeal.
          The hardcore fans might appreciate and excuse her imitations but the likes of Vie en Rose was a very small proportion to the actual hits on youtube. Not everyone is enthralled as you are.

  • Marty Hansen

    At age 9, Amira has earned a full scholarship to any music college in the world…in 3 minutes.

    Have all these self-proclaimed “experts” done the same? :+)))))))

  • Ron

    Kirsten Flagstad was once nine years old as well, you know… I doubt anyone with any sense thinks that a girl that age, with her tiny lungs and lack of training and worldly experience, is the equivalent of a seasoned operatic soprano. With proper training, though,one day they may be. To be quite honest, I am much more impressed with Amira Willighagen than with Jackie Evancho. Jackie seemed very strained in her rendition of the aria, though she had some training. Amira, with no training at all, has a beautiful, pure voice. She is also a very pretty young girl who will be a stunning, charismatic woman one day. I just hope she gets the proper advice and training and her parents stave off people like Simon Cowell who want to exploit her NOW, before her body matures. It would be a shame to strain that lovely voice.

    • Stella Scott

      Some started to sing at a very young age yes, but most of them end up with something else. Look at Charlotte Church. People called her opera singer at 14, but anyone knows there is zero opera resemblance in what she does today.

      Since so few know anything about opera my impression is that people and the girls themselves do actually think they sing opera. IMHO they don’t, it’s a tune, a melody from an opera, but not opera as an art.
      Stella Scott recently posted…It is not about changing professions!My Profile

    • Bob Bress

      Ron, thank you for your cogent comment. I love Amira’s voice and pray she gets proper training sans exploitation. I hope it’s her desire to continue on a path to become that which I feel is her destiny. To do otherwise would, in my estimation, be to deprive the world of something truly beautiful.

  • Marty Hansen

    In one week, Amira has made more than 3 million people feel deeply.

    And how many by the “experts”?


    Too busy fault-finding?

    Too eager to impose their irrelevant criteria on a child outperforming them?

    Art is about evoking feelings. This 9-year-old instinctively understands that.

    • Rayna

      Yeah, well guess what? 3 million is nothing. Britney Spears has sold 100x more records than her, I guess she’s better then?

      • ibjonnyc

        Nope but it certainly proves that she is more popular. And since 95% of the world’s population have what is called”pop” voices this makes sense.

        • Rayna

          “In one week, Amira has made more than 3 million people feel deeply.”

          Yes, you also have Britney fans that claim to be “deeply moved” by her.

          • ibjonnyc

            Perhaps they are “moved” by her. Never cared much for Britney myself nor any other Disney star. However,for what ever reason she is now starring in Las Vegas and raking in $1/2 mil plus a show Despite the well know fact that more than half of the performance is lip-synced.

  • Erica

    I totally disagree with you. I am not a professional I’m just saying that girl has a fantastic voice. Maybe needs some Italian lessons, but don’t take away from her the fact that she has a great voice. Sounds like you are envious actually. IMHO

          • ibjonnyc

            She merely made a statement that she believes the girl has a fantastic voice and can maybe benefit from lessons in the Italian language and points ou the envy which is obvious. Your reaction is the only irrational part.

          • Rayna

            “hey guess what, i’m going to just say that something is correct – that must mean it’s actually correct!”

          • ibjonnyc

            She makes a statement that she believes the girls has a fantastic voice.Because she thinks this it is incorrect? Because the girl would benefit from Italian language lessons this is also incorrect? Your hubris is very apparent.

          • ibjonnyc

            .There was no point to your statement other than because someone believes that someone has a fantastic voice they are wrong because you disagree and that the hubris you exhibit is tremendous.

  • Peter Ormel

    I would very much agree with Marty, Dale and Erica. Admitedly, I am not a professional, but greatly enjoyed listening to Amira singing. I am not sure if Amira does, or does not, speak Italian properly, bet, then again, neither do I so I would not know the diference anyhow. Amira blew me away and I can only say: well done!!

  • Matilda Sjödell

    I don’t have enough knowledge to make any comments on her ability as a singer or even the heritage of opera. What concerns me is something more to do with why she sings. Her dream is great audiences with people cheering her on. Now I have no problems with big dreams, in fact I believe they are essential. What makes me worried though is how important success, as in other people’s appreciation, is to her already.

    I believe that whatever we do, we should do out of the passion and love of doing it. NOT out of the passion for the respons from whoever might be listening. What happens to this young girl if there suddenly is noone cheering her? What happens to enjoyment, inspiration and love of singing?

    The pressure to deliver, when all you think about is how it will be received, will stifle the creativity, stifle her growth as a singer and most of all it will stifle her growth as a human being. All of us should always feel there is room for mistakes, but if focus is shifted from passion and fun, to being able to deliver and to succeed in other people’s eyes, then I believe that is killing that room for mistakes.

    I see this in my students and I see this hunt for outer appreciation everywhere. It is, I believe, a disease in our western society and I hope we can help the children away from it, not encourage it!

    Thank you for a great post Stella.
    Matilda Sjödell recently posted…Healthy food 21 – Roasted duckMy Profile

    • Stella Scott

      Matilda! That is just about exactly what I’m writing about for my next post on this issue! I so agree with you about the pressure. I even hint about it in the post and answering comments above, few seem to notice that it is not about kids singing per se, but what it does to opera and as I’m covering in my coming article, to the girls. It is a huge responsibility to stand up to the expectations of so many. THANK YOU for seeing beyond what seem only to be about voice!!
      Stella Scott recently posted…How balanced is your life?My Profile

    • Karen

      – Right On. The fault finders are everywhere!! I’m a classic rock n roll and country girl. But I sure enjoyed listening to this young girl, yes I was amazed because she is young and I thought particularly talented. BUT after reading the posts from the EXPERTS I guess she is just another no talent!!~REALLY – I hope she realizes her hopes for her life – If it s Opera I wish her the best, cause seems like the snakes there are as vicious as everywhere else!!

  • Max Amos

    Stella,Stella, Stella

    What is wrong with you and the other so called “experts”.

    This is a beautiful little girl singing a beautiful song to the best of her ability.

    Please celebrate the fact that she is promoting opera to the masses and enjoying
    the experience.

    • Stella Scott

      Oh Max, Max, Max, after almost 35 years on stage, professionally, I have no problems calling myself an expert. Wouldn’t you call someone driving a cab for 35 years an expert at taxi driving? I would, hands down.

      Did you attend any opera since you encountered Amira? Buy a record with a seasoned artis? Book a ticket to a recital with a grown up, educated, classical musician? Granted she is cute, but promoting opera? I’m not convinced yet. Let hope so. Let’s absolutely hope so! :-)
      Stella Scott recently posted…How To Erase Your Poverty MindsetMy Profile

      • Don McKee (also LeginBuddha)

        @Stella Scott – Opera has long regarded the world of music as an hierarchy of music types with their own genre virtually enthroned at the top. This valuation is rejected by the considerable majority of the world’s music lovers. The years of rigorous training required for opera singers results in an outcome (product) which, for many, is more objectionable than it is an exemplar of music. Opera disdains the notion of subjectivity in music tastes as a pesky equalizer among the genres. Opera is no worse or better than a lot of other forms of music. I do understand that it might frustrate you that these two young singers have introduce more people to a couple of arias than all current professional opera singers have done in this time frame.

        I have seen too many comments from those who deem their concern for the welfare of Jackie Evancho and Amira Willighagen be taken ahead of those of the parents and others involved in their care and training. In the overall context, opera is not doing okay in the marketplace and it will have to change, both its criteria and its ability to promote itself. I personally believe that opera as we know it is inevitably and inexorably on the wane. I just read an article about the great opera houses in Italy closing down among other problems, and this where 50% of their funding comes from the government dole! In our time of cultural globalization, Opera, increasingly, cannot support itself based on its merits as an art form. I take no satisfaction in this except to the extent that it is a case of the price of hubris.

          • Moe

            Rayna: I hear and understand what you have said here. I find it a little harsh but that’s of no consequence. Perhaps Jackie Evancho and Amira Willighagen will never be opera singers in the end. But perhaps one of them will and the start they got on the talent shows is what started the ball rolling. Sadly there are too many people whose latent talent has remained hidden because they never had the opportunity afforded to Jackie and Amira. We should encourage more young people to reach above their heads. More than a few will succeed. And in the end we will be richer for it.

  • Erica

    Stella, one of the things you said earlier was that Opera singers do not use microphones. You are so wrong. In a theatre where the acoustics are built for opera singers they don’t need microphones, but some still use one hidden in a discreet place. So unless you’ve looked under all their skirts, you don’t know. The other thing is this young lady is singing in a place where the acoustics are NOT built for opera singers and therefore a microphone would need to be used.
    You don’t know it all, expert or not. There is always something to learn. Doing something for 30 years doesn’t make one an expert. I hope this girl doesn’t read all your dribble because you are the kind of person that would discourage her from continuing and THAT would be a tragedy!

    • Rayna

      Opera singers ARE able to produce optimum resonance that allows them to project over an orchestra in an opera house. Clearly Jackie can not do the same without pretty much eating the mic. I think THAT was the meaningful distinction that Stella was trying to make.

      “The other thing is this young lady is singing in a place where the acoustics are NOT built for opera singers and therefore a microphone would need to be used.”

      Uh, opera singers sing in places that aren’t opera houses too. The differences is the mic is a couple of feet away from their mouths, whereas Jackie’s is planted directly in front of her face.

    • Rayna

      also WTF @ this:

      “In a theatre where the acoustics are built for opera singers they don’t need microphones, but some still use one hidden in a discreet place. So unless you’ve looked under all their skirts, you don’t know.”

      Yes, they do this so we can hear their vaginal noises when they sing. wtf. if you’re able to project your voice down into the space between your legs, you don’t need a mic. lmao.

  • Norma Kean

    Stella. What is wrong with you? Do you see these wonderful children as a threat? I love classical music but there is nothing natural about an opera singers voice. I do not like voices which sound contrived. I do not like Jackie Evancho’s voice fo r that very fact. She sound so contrived. Give me Amira any day.

  • Robert Anderson

    I have never been to an opera nor have I knowledge, lengthy or otherwise, what is required of an artist in the minds of other “professional” artists or critics. From some of my reading here, it would seem that these requirements must pass muster against a precise latitude of maturity and longitude of training.

    To my ill-trained ear, listening to 3 minutes from Amira Willighagen fundamentally changed me. I crossed a threshold into an area of music which for me had been uncharted and unknown.

    The video was being shown to me as a passing curiosity, but I found myself weeping instead.

    Dismissing Amira Willighagen is ugly to me at best, an example of depressing monotone whose steady, professional meter saps the vitality of wonder I found in the young singer.

    This is made reprehensible when it comes from any “professional” for whom little Amira may have delighted in admiring or looked to as an example of a life to which she may aspire.

    To a cynic who might ask if I were “so changed” by this performance that I bought a record by a “mature professional” or sought to attend an opera as a result, the answer would be “yes.”

    Because of Amira Willighagen, I was led in short order to Diana Damrau, whose exquisite voice is another revelation. I find that she will be in New York next year, and there is no doubt I’ll be seated in her presence as she performs.

    Amira, I will hope you do not see this page. If you should, my deep gratitude is extended to you for opening my eyes, my ears, and my heart.

    • Stella Scott

      I’m very happy for you Robert, that you found your way to opera through Amira! And very happy for her too. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to influence someone as deeply as she did you.

      There is nothing wrong with Amira, she is just not an opera singer, yet. What disturbed me is how the industry is presenting these children. But that seems to be a point of view to be overlooked.

      Anyone interested can read my next post where I talk about pressure and responsibility put on very small shoulders. Believe me or not, I’m on her side. :-)
      Stella Scott recently posted…Will Amira Willighagen Stand The Pressure?My Profile

      • Lynette

        I just saw this video yesterday on Facebook and when I expressed my concerns (I’m a classical singer and voice instructor), I too, was called a “hater”, “jealous”, “arrogant”, and told to “f**ck off”, and “get over yourself”.

        I’m a teacher who cares very deeply for my art, for my students, and for the future of both. Yes, I care deeply about these young children who are being exploited and whose voices could be permanently damaged if their elders don’t wake up and address the needs of their children over the desire for instant success and stardom.

        I am in complete agreement with you.

        • Stella Scott

          Thank you so much for coming here and leaving a different perspective on my post. At times I feel kind of under attack. :-)

          I much appreciate having your perspective Lynette, as a singer and teacher with years of experience in our trade.
          Stella Scott recently posted…My Secret Place OnlineMy Profile

  • Rodney

    what a sad thing that you have to pound on any child much less jackie or amira to make yourself feel more important. Amira 9 you dillweed, can’t you just enjoy it for what it is??? why you stiff shirts have to pull this crap I’ll never know. P.S. i listened to your you tube video……not impressed!

  • blankman

    I keep coming back to this and all I can say is that, with luck, you have ten percent of the talent that this kid does. And your post makes it clear.

    As the saying goes:

    Those that can do, do. Those that can’t, teach.

    • Rayna

      wow @ the condescension.

      Hey guess what fanboy? Good thing Jackie’s doing neither – I can’t imagine her teaching anyone else when you can pretty much hear her larynx protruding down into her gut.

      • ibjonnyc

        She is doing neither? She has produced 5 CD’s in 4 yrs. Going to have a 6th this yr. She has 2 PBS specials and getting ready to do a 3rd this yr. She has performed at 100’s of concerts all over the world and for world leaders as well and just finished up her latest tour on the 18th. That is pretty much the definition of a “doer” in a nutshell.

        • Rayna

          When will your fav Jackie be able to sing a simple middle note without tension bursting out of her throat with fans like you? Hint: the answer rhymes with lever.

          • Rayna

            lol @ you calling me irrational when everything you say is an unsubstantiated conjecture.

          • ibjonnyc

            I listened to Stella too. Very strong voice as all opera singers have. But your opinion is just that. I prefer a more beautiful and intimate voice. Sarah is a legend in the classical world and almost single handedly created the CC genre. And she does have an extremely powerful voice.You can dispute that as well .I am just typing what I have observed and heard in person. Those high notes are sublime.

          • Rayna

            again, you might PREFER jackie, but by the objective standards, Stella’s voice is better. in every way. More agility, control, and resonance in every register, can maintain optimal tonality throughout her range, better diction, phrasing, you name it.

          • ibjonnyc

            .There was no point to your statement other than because someone believes that someone has a fantastic voice they are wrong because you disagree and that the hubris you exhibit is tremendous.

          • ibjonnyc

            Might prefer? Without question I do prefer Jackie. Much more beautiful,more intimate, perfect-pitch and her ability to make me part of the experience of the piece she performs She is truly an artist. And I will reiterate that I thank the stars she has chosen C/C over opera.

          • ibjonnyc

            Jackie has performed along side Sumi Jo on the stage in St. Petersburg in front of thousands and held her own. I doubt if Stella would present that much more of a challenge.And likening Jackie to kermit is finally speaking volumes to me about your lvl of maturity. Perhaps the TheraFlu has clouded my perception and i didn’t realize I was conversing with a child. I feel so weak.

        • ibjonnyc

          My ears are perfect. I get a full physical every year Nov. I merely stated that Jackie is a “doer” and your reaction is to attack Jackie. Irrationality seems to be a part of your personality.

          • Rayna

            lol @ you calling me irrational when everything you say is an unsubstantiated conjecture.

          • Rayna

            and lol @ you using record sales to “prove” me wrong. since you obviously weren’t following the conversation, i was responding to blackman’s:

            “you have ten percent of the talent that this kid does. And your post makes it clear.”

            which is clearly wrong. I just listened to Stella, and she can sing orbits the size of Jupiter around Jackie. Jackie was lucky she sang with Sarah Brightman, because you she would be eaten alive on stage with Stella, vocally speaking. But that’s what you get when you compare a classically-trained opera singer Jackie the Kermit impersonator.

  • mangstadt

    I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to Amira sing this aria since I came across it by chance less than a week ago. I reached it via Jackie Evancho, who I listened to also by chance last week. I’m not too sure where Jackie’s voice will be in a few years. As it is, it’s already starting to sound too ‘matronly’ to my ear as I listen to different songs. She may not be on the best possible track if she wants to have a voice when she grows up. As for Amira, she has a beautiful voice, in spite of her mock Italian and regardless of her age. If she were 19, 29 or 39 her voice would still be a gift. The best suggestion I can make is that she be mentored by someone who really knows how to sing and to teach, so that she takes it easy, doesn’t overstrain her voice and, especially, doesn’t sing the wrong things. The name of Emma Kirkby comes to mind. She specialises in ancient music and has done beautiful renderings of the music of Claudio Monteverdi, among many others. A long-term recording contract could be signed whereby the record company would pay for master classes and eventually Amira could start recording at the age of 16, for instance. A good starting point could be the role of Laureta in Gianni Schichi, but there are so many other possibilities–Mozart, Rossini, things that are not too harsh on the voice of a young singer. The business of recording popular arias and songs to make a fast buck is something I think should be avoided. I never buy that type of records anyway but of course I’m not like most people.

    • Stella Scott

      Baroque music is an excellent suggestion mangstadt! It is less strenuous and lends itself to staying more within the bodys capacity, at that age. The “big” repertoire will still be there when Amira matures. If singing is what she wants to pursue.

      Personally I think Lauretta is on the heavy side even for a 16 year old. Today houses are bigger and tuning is constantly pushed upwards, compared with when it was written.
      Stella Scott recently posted…It is not about changing professions!My Profile

  • Diana Briscoe

    Hello Stella Scott!
    How kind of you to share this blog with everyone. You probably shared some light for those who have no idea about opera and opera singing.It Is is very sweet to praise these children’s beautiful gifts that have been given them and it is so wonderful that is touches people so much and I wish these young girls wonderful singing careers! However folks, the product is not available yet.The voice is not developed and it could eventually become operatic or not. So though this is really very sweet, these are not operatic voices or even close.Also, as someone who has taught early childhood music,it is wonderful children explore the voice they have and singing high notes is also natural for a young girl,but this is not the same thing as a true operatic singer or even close. Stella is pointing out the obvious to people who are cultured in Western Music but for some reason people are getting offended and not hearing the message by some of these responses it seems.
    What I really consider bizarre is the audience and judges reaction?! Really ?! Are you really that uncultured about the classical singing voice?! It shows how ignorant people are .Ignorant, yes I said Ignorant.That is truly what went through my mind over and over again. It made me wish people understood the art form of the classical voice better.I mean these people cannot even sit still for a moment to even listen to an aria so how could they sit through an opera? Perhaps a sign of the times?

    • Stella Scott

      Hi Diana!

      Nice to be read as it was written, for once. :-) Unfortunately I think you’re right about how knowledgeable people/the jurys have about opera and classical singing in general. Or should I say classical music? Quite a few find it “boring”. I would rather say it’s demanding. And with a society alway pushing “fast” as the best thing the patience required for both developing as a classical musician, as well as an audience is not nurtured.
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    • mangstadt

      At least one of the members of the jury, Dan, did know how to behave. Gordon, however, acted like a clown (with all due respect for clowns :)) and Chantal came a close second in that category. I insist that somebody who knows about singing should mentor this girl. In an interview prior to her performance she talks about how she would enjoy the fans and all the applause. That is understandable, you can tell from the way she carries herself that she is a candid, confident child, and that is a good starting point. But the gift she has needs to be cared for so that it doesn’t get spoiled. I have listened to this video at least 35 times over the last 10 days, in spite of her poor Italian and in spite of the judges. I also listened to the only version of Gianni Schichi that I have on CD, with Renata Tebaldi in the role of Laureta, a box of 15 CDs with operas by Puccini that cost me a mere 23 euros (and I later found if for 14 euros). It would be nice to be able to watch an edit of the performance on its own, without the alternative views of the judges, audience and family in the wings.

  • Steve Curylo

    Stella, Thank You for defending children in this manner. Agreed that they should PLAY with the music, as that is what children are supposed to do, Play. Of course, that said, they should also be gently guided into learning about basic opera, if only hearing some of the children’s music from Boheme, Carmen, and Werther, among others, I’m sure. My six-year-old grandson recognizes Verdi and Mozart operas because I play them at home (he lives with me, his mom/my daughter, and my wife.) I have a poster of the 1886 Boldini portrait of Verdi on my bedroom door, and my grandson sees it and exclaims “Verdi!” “Yes, my boy!” I reply with enthusiasm.

    • Stella Scott

      Sound like a very sweet relationship with you grandson Steve. :-) Yes – Let them play, let kids keep innocence and joy with music. Soon enough we will all grow up to take on those challenges.
      Many thanks for taking the time to comment here!

      The post where I defend children can be found by clicking the link below.
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  • Jean K. Min

    But think about the tones of free publicity this dying art from is receiving from young audience who otherwise would not give a damn about Opera. Which is a great blessing to opera as an art form and music business, isn’t it? I even looked up a translation of ‘O mio babbino caro’ simply to understand the lyrics. Having said that, I am somewhat worried about those prodigies taxing their voice chords too early in their age. But then again, nobody pushed them to do so: they seem to be genuinely enjoying their talents.

    • Stella Scott

      Well Jean, I’m not so sure opera is a dying artform. Time will tell. It is changing though and I think that is a good thing. Too many stories preserving very old-fashioned views about women for instance.

      The glory of death, suffering and sacrifice is also something than could be exchanged. Keep the music and write new librettos! (The story of an opera is called a libretto, for those nog knowing :-) ) Thats one way of invigorating opera.

      About the girls, my worries for them can be found when you follow the link below. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment too! :-)
      Stella Scott recently posted…Will Amira Willighagen Stand The Pressure?My Profile

  • bryan irving

    Personally, I think Amira is touched by genius. If you can’t hear the expression her inner self through the music you must have ears of cloth. After hearing her I listened to every great soprano sing that song and three were magnificent, but I returned to hers because it was connected and natural. Music is nothing about meaning, it is the sound of inner revelation. Without knowing the meaning of a single word you can be transported to a transcendental place.

  • Noël

    I’m appreciative of Amira bringing a fresh interest back to opera. I’m also thankful that voice teachers have taken an interest in young Amira, so that she can develop her talent. In your posted video she states plainly that she is self taught by watching YouTube videos. She is beautiful!

      • ben

        Your honest opinion is welcome to me. But if you believe that your comments will be offensive to some, I understand.

        Although I like Miss Evancho’s voice, I respect other opinions and tastes.
        We all hear something unique to our own ears when we listen to a singer, I suppose.

        May your heart and soul always be filled with good music!


    i generally do not like opera, but this little girl’s voice and rendition moved me to tears.
    this was one of the most beautiful songs. i have heard. this is phenomenal!

    how can any kid listen to a piece of music like this, with all of its complexities and richness and create this beauty?

    get over your snob attitude! I would not pay to go see Opera at la scala, but i would pay to see her.

    we hAve witnessed the emergence of on of the great singers of this century!



  • Jim McGuire

    I don’t really like operas. I don’t understand most of the ‘story’. I like music and the classical stuff that people sing as opera. Paul Potts, Jackie Charlotte and Amira etc are tunes that float through my head as I ski down a slope and that tune gives a rhythm to my skiing. I feel like a dancer on snow –so thanks to these little girls and a few older ‘professionals’ for giving song to my old bones as I waddle down the slope at 70 (age not speed)

  • Frans

    I’m curious about the opinions of the participants in this thread on the performance by Amira of Ave Maria. For me it was the most moving music experience in my life. Especialy the last part is unprecedented for me in it’s beauty and pureness.

    Like in most discussions about art I see here two kinds of reactions. The first is about how looking or listening to the art does influence you, how it affects your feeling. Argueing about that aspect of art is wasting time and in general it leads to nothing positive. Sharing your feelings is nice, but be wise and have respect. The experts feelings are as valuable as those of other people.
    The second kind of reactions is about technique. That’s where the experts can bring something extra to the dialog.
    But when those two aspects of art are mixed up, it usually starts to get unpleasant. And that’s not helping to enjoy art.

      • Frans

        I`m still not sure which problem you try to solve by posing the question.
        Who is claiming that Jackie and Amira are opera singers? And if so, why do you bother?
        I know very little about Jackie, but Amira says she just liked opera “liedjes” (Dutch word for small songs) a lot and has fun to reproduce them. Her dream is to become later a singer. So she doesn`t claim she already is a singer, let alone an opera singer. She has little pretensions about what she does.
        She did not have any singing lessons before her audition but growed up in a family where music has a special place. But her parents are not pushing her to do this. On the contrary, they gave their consent at last because Amira so eagerly wanted it. And yet they are in the roller-coaster because of almost 20.000.000 hits on Youtube and a lot of media attention, which nobody had expected. But the biggest concern of her parents now is how to preserve a normal life for her as a child.
        Maybe Holland is different in that aspect from the US, but when young children are becoming famous in a short time there`s always a threat. Let`s hope that Amira and Jackie can cope with it.

        • Rayna

          “Who is claiming that Jackie and Amira are opera singers?”

          Uh, their marketing teams? Ignorant adults that don’t know any better? (as evidenced by the sheer vitriol directed towards the blogger in this comment section)

          • Rayna

            Wow, you’re still trying aren’t you? Fact is, the public PERCEIVES of her as an opera singer. Take a seat already.

          • ibjonnyc

            You claimed that it is their marketing teams. I merely corrected you and stated a fact that Jackie has always been marketed as CC by her team.Your hatred seems to be blinding you to a simple and correct statement.

          • Rayna

            Wow, you’re really going there aren’t you. The fact of the matter is that Jackie was MOST famous during AND directly after AGT. THERE, she was marketed as opera. Obviously that makes an impact, and after THAT, no one on her marketing team dispelled the opera thing. They didn’t perpetuate it, but they didn’t DENY it.

            Since you’ve shows your inability to read any form of implication: now do you understand?

          • Rayna

            Also, I don’t “hate” her. I don’t know her personally, so I have no opinion on how she is as a person. I DO dislike her singing because it’s technically flawed.

          • ibjonnyc

            Nearly every post after AGT, on every sight every poster and every concert clearly states that Jackie is CC. She has only been marketed as opera by AGT not her marketing team She sang one condensed version of an opera aria on that show and that was in CC style not opera. She has an operatic voice and perhaps that was part of the confusion but Jackie has always been CC. It is those in the opera world that keep perpetuating this misnomer such as the author of this piece.

          • Rayna

            “She has an operatic voice and perhaps that was part of the confusion but Jackie has always been CC.”

            completely moot – people PERCEIVE of her as a “child opera singer.” Read what I wrote above, a little more slowly this time.

          • ibjonnyc

            I read the post again and it is still as inane as the first time. Perhaps my response was unclear. Jackie’s team doe’s not market her as opera and they never have. Her self -produced CD before AGT was CC. That is what they market. Her fans know this. The people that buy her CD’s and ticket’s to her concerts know this. I’m sure if the marketing team could figure some way to dispel this opera taint on her reputation then she would become even more popular.The only ones that seem to insist that she remain in conversation as opera is opera critics. I really don’t know the reason they insist on continuing to include her in their conversations except that maybe it generates some much needed publicity for opera. That is the only explanation I can surmise. If that is the case then I can understand them wanting to ride her back for a little notoriety. In any case it has not nor will it effect her career what-so-ever. The only thing affecting it is the stigma of those not in the know that she is an opera singer and that is a detriment to her career without question.

          • Rayna

            ^ nope, people still think she’s opera. Google “opera” and “jackie evancho” together and you get 6x more hits than “classical crossover” and “jackie evancho.” everything else you write is irrelevant as usual.

          • ibjonnyc

            That is…hhahaha ..that is so cute:) Let’s see you googled Jackie Evancho and opera together and you got those results? Hahahahahaha Did you try pop opera, popera or Classic/crossover as well. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA That is just sssoooooo funny. Dammit now my head hurts

  • William Randall

    Please get off it. Neither are opera singers, but both sing Arias extremely well. Both are in the Classical Crossover domain, but possibly both can someday be opera singers when they are old enough to perform. Both are beautiful girls and both sing like angels. Things I do not like are, 1 trying to imply they are not good enough to be opera singers when in fact, they are not old enough and 2. Comparing them. Each is talented in her own right and that is good enough. Love them both!

  • Porsena

    Interesting reading but I do not get your point.

    As a non American I only was aware of Amira, as such my comments are only concerning her.

    She is a child, she has sung on television. She is a child with an amazing voice. What she is, is a child with an amazing voice and the potential to be a “great” singer.
    Do you deny any of these statement?

    If she becomes an opera singer so be it, but right now I think we should merely applaud a little girl with an exceptional voice.

    Most of your other comments are not relevant.

    • Rayna

      “As a non American I only was aware of Amira…”

      wow, so special! do you want a cookie?

      “If she becomes an opera singer so be it, but right now I think we should merely applaud a little girl with an exceptional voice.”

      yeah, thinking and having discussions about singing is tiring and beyond my understanding! we should stop and everyone should shut up! /sarcasm

        • Rayna

          i love (not really) how you’re stalking every single one of my comments to say idiotic, substance-less things

          • ibjonnyc

            Just returning tit for tat. Everything I have typed is relevant and substantial to everything you have typed. I am enjoying it. do you wish to deny me this small pleasure?

          • ibjonnyc

            I’m going to blame it on the flu. Don’t care much for TV. So I am spending most of my time keeping warm under the covers,listening to Jackie’s CDs and playing on my computer. Sorry. My head hurts I feel woozy when I rise and I ache everywhere. Thank Al Gore for the internet otherwise I would really be miserable.

  • fegalo

    Dear Stella,
    Since I am no expert concerning singing, I cannot say anything about what children bodily can and should sing, though I well believe you are right with your critique. So hopefully Amira now gets a proper and responsible guidance during the next years to develop her talent harmoniously, which I believe is huge.

    I disagree, though, with your implications about a person’s age and life experience as a prerequisite for artistic quality or expression. In fact I find that there have been many artists that were able to grasp and express feelings long before they could intellectually understand what it is all about what they are doing. A few famous examples are Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer in drawing and painting, Mozart in composing or nowadays Annes Sophie Mutter or Hillary Hahn. For instance, I never thought Hillary at the age of approximately 16 possibly being be able to give an appropriate rendition of the „Chaconne“ of J.S.Bach, because this to me is a cry to God by a mature mourning man, but I think she was, at least in a fashion that went far beyond what you would exspect. It seems to me that it is an inborn gift, a trait of one’s personality rather than the mere result of life experience. We grownups may be stunned, we might even be turned off by something that looks like mere imitation (especially when a child sings about considering suicide for reasons of love) but we also have learned to talk long before fully understanding what words mean.

    Concerning the two young ladies, in my ears Amira seems to have this gift, Jackie much less.


      • fegalo

        Stella, thanks for linking that other post of yours. I read it with interest. It is really a very individual matter of how to handle a prodigy, and in the case of Amira, from what I could see of her on youtube, she seems to be an exceptionally self-confident and strong character on the one hand, but she seems greedy for applause too.

        Yehudi Menuhin made it from a prodigy to a world star, like Anne Sophie Mutter did, but Dimitris Sgouros, who also started out in a spectacular fashion, if not more so (I remember a concert of him in Munich in the early 80s when he was 14 or so), didn’t become one. Was he badly managed as a child or may it just be that his talent has a different quality, in the way that he is just an awful virtuoso but lacks the „soul“ to really touch people’s heart by music as other pianists do, even if they are not as virtuosic as he is?

        Well, I don’t know, but whoever is a child superstar need not necessarily have the potential to be a adult superstar, no matter how responsible and careful his education might be.

        Have a good day too and a successful 2014!

        • Stella Scott

          I much appreciate you taking the time fegalo, to read my full post on the pressure on children and respons-ability. I used to send my students to listen to Leonard Cohen. Not because of his singing, but because he has something to SAY. Hence, agree about different kinds of talent. Virtuoso is not all and sometimes it comes to “nothing”. :)

  • Douglas Bell

    Well these blogs are just so much blah, blah, blah – fake concerns, assumptions based on no first hand knowledge, etc. etc. Jackie Evancho said that she was NOT an opera singer – could we just move on? Jackie has preformed all over the world, for world leaders and with well established other professional singers. She has a gold and a platinum record and a strong fan base. She makes about $200,000 per concert. We can agree that on some level Jackie has some degree of talent – she worked for a great opportunity an AGT – and she has made the best of it. A process from which we all should learn!

  • Koen de Koning

    One major difference between Jackie and Amira you (american) people all seem to miss is the fact that Amira is NOT from the States.
    The writer and nearly all the comments have a very american perspective on this. Child singer on TV-show? “She’s too young, she’s being pushed by ambitious parents, she should be allowed to remain a child, and not be exploited at such a young age…”
    Rest assured, she won’t be pushed into a career. I understand this Jackie has performed numerous times on stage and in front of the president, and that she has already recorded 3 albums selling $millions since she was nine? That’s not going to happen to Amira.

    See, in Holland we have strict rules about exploiting young kids. This is not a Honey Boo Boo. She won’t be allowed to perform more than 3 short times a year or so. She will get her lessons, remain a enthusiastic child, and MAYBE, if she still wants to, become a professional singer.
    Why should anyone forbid a child to sing opera if that child is enjoying that? Ofcourse she has no technique! Ofcourse the language is awful! Saying that a child shouldn’t sing opera because it’s damaging to a potentially powerful adult voice, is a very grownup way of thinking. A child isn’t concerned with preserving her voice for a possible professional career when she’s all grown up. She likes to sing those songs. Period.

    • fegalo

      I agree with you except for the last point: Of course her voice has to be preserved from taking damage by wrong straining! Imagine Amira having grown up and finally wanting to start her career, and then she is told „Sorry, but your career is over, your voice is done for…“ She would ask her parents: „Why did you let this happen?“ and they would say: „But then you wanted it so much, darling.“ You see, it is an obligation for the parents to not run any risks of destroying a possible future career. By the way, Amira seems to be born for the stage, and I believe she is already addicted to it.

      I hope we will hear of her little to nothing for a very long time and then suddenly be confronted with a world class opera singer.

      • Stella Scott

        Agree with you fegalo about the responsibility of parents. Actually responsibilities of grown ups in general when it comes to gifted children. Includes juries and media in general.
        Stella Scott recently posted…I Love Money!My Profile

  • Derek

    Koen: you make me laugh!
    I agree with Stella’s musical analysis, but this has nothing to do with music or child exploitation laws.
    It has to do with commercial interests behind these contests, initiated by Dutch media tycoon John de Mol and franchised in various forms to over 50 countries. Once they identified the commercial success by Jackie Evancho in 2009/2010 they started looking for similar talents in all other countries. How amazing that Amira entered the contest with exactly the same O mio babbino song as Jackie! Not. Goal is to make very healthy profit from these series and if this can be done by using ten year old girls who can mimic opera singers to bring tears to the eyes of the audience they will do so. Amira’s italian pronunciation is very poor. She doesn’t have a clue what’s she singing about (which is not uncommon in the singing business) but she also lacks the ability to pick this up from recorded versions. Winning this ‘contest’ (which also included an 81-year old to see if they could repeat the Susan Boyle effect) means she will be trained (under contract penalties) to continue. If she fails to be a success in opera the Voice/Talent marketing team will try other commercially interesting areas until she is superseded by the next nine-year old cute looking Jacky or Amira and they will lose interest. That’s going to be the end of her career. With a little luck she makes enough money to live a comfortable life in the shadow of her child-prodigy days.
    I do not envy her parents. Hopefully they do not follow their greed but allow the girl to develop her voice. Looking at the planned activities (Las Vegas trip, duets with various kinds of performers) the commercial team is firmly in control, not the parents.

  • Bahman

    I hope this girl sings again. Her voice deeply moved me, like I felt I was flying. I really mean it. Even when I listened to the original opera I couldn’t compare it with this kid. I’m not an expert but it’s very rare that a voice could evoke such emotions in me. I pray for her. :)

  • Don McKee

    Self-righteousness virtually emanates from this ostentatious wind of an article. Perhaps the rarefied atmosphere way up there around Stella Scott’s upturned nose denies her of the oxygen one needs for the clarity and grace of simple humility. And one wonders why opera is increasingly losing its relevance. Opera houses are closing their doors daily, even in Italy for heaven’s sake! Opera simply cannot support itself on its own merits. And, I am tired of hearing about the so called natural singing of opera. Singing which is forced, without the aid of amplification, to fill an opera hall to the back row is anything but natural. Quit picking on little girls and find some way to rescue your troubled genre.

        • Rayna

          Thank YOU for writing this article. Your voice is not alone in its critique of the media turning this otherwise ordinary girls into pseudo-cults of personality and objects of (near) worship. Apparently people can’t fathom that you’re doing this without seeing that you’re not actually attacking the girls themselves.

          If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s ignorance, but moreover, bull-headed ignorance that is perpetuated through the herd mentality. The comments section here are perfect examples that confirm my theory. These people know nothing about voice, vocal pedagogy, or music theory – the relevant FACTS, yet they state their views boldly and merely claim that they’re “professionals,” which they feel absolves them of any criticism.

          (Okay, I tried to post a link to a blog talking about this but the site won’t let me)

          • ibjonnyc

            Thing is people can step off a boat after living on an Island all their life and each one can hear a different genre music and singer and each individual is going to choose which they prefer. Since music is subjective there is no wrong choice to be made.

          • Rayna

            Vocal pedagogy is based on facts – it’s a science that’s been studied for centuries. Stay delusional. By the standards of pedagogy, Jackie’s singing is flawed, You may PREFER her subjectively, but it’s still flawed. I’m hoping this little distinction doesn’t make your head implode on itself, but I’m skeptical.

          • ibjonnyc

            Nothing ordinary about these 2 girls. That should be obvious since they are the reason for this blog being posted. These “people” know what they like and it is not what you like. When hit pieces are published the fans are going to defend their favorites. Criticise all you like. It is never going to endear any others to what you prefer, and as evidenced by the dwindling crowds in the opera houses and the closing of them around the world you and others like you are only succeeding in driving them away. Perhaps that is your intention?

          • Rayna

            Notice how I don’t really care what you like. Jackie’s still not a good vocalist though. So sorry :(

          • Stella Scott

            :-) As far as I can see in this thread most of the commentators, especially the haters are not involved in music, let alone classical dito and take great pride in that fact.

            On top of it, being a professional in this case is a “wrong” and makes us less valid when airing a point of view. I find it fascinating.
            Stella Scott recently posted…The Optimist Creed by Christian D. LarsonMy Profile

          • ibjonnyc

            I guess you have noticed that don’t care for what you like either. Jackie is an excellent vocalist. Sorry.

          • Rayna

            and what i like is relevant how? notice how i’m not an obsessive fanatic of a preteen girl with a barely developed voice trying to sound like she’s going on 40.

          • ibjonnyc

            What you seem to be a fanatic about is a nearly 14 yr old successful singer getting misnomered as an opera singer. Calling her a preteen makes me think you have tried that tactic before which also leads me to believe that you have attacked her fans in a similar manner. That is ok. It is a process that we use to understand the mindset of people that detest despise the success of another individual for some reason and in your case the success of a child.

          • ibjonnyc

            A strange ability I am not familiar with. You can see thru “psychological charades”? Is that an ESP ability or something of that nature? Perhaps something you heard from your favorite crime drama on TV? No matter. You are amusing and helping me to pass some time. That is the only purpose you are serving as far as this is concerned. I hope that doesn’t discourage you from responding. I would have to seek amusement elsewhere.

  • Friday Bridge

    Apart from the scope of the above discussion, someday, someone will hopefully explain to me (in a way that makes really good common sense) why opera should be sung unamplified? Why not just mic everyone up, and have them sing in their most beautiful, most expressive voice, instead of their loudest voice? The technology is there. Nothing more is required. Loud = power, but power and beauty don’t always work well together. Most sopranos become shrill in their upper registers when singing in opera, which really grinds my crowns.

    Opera should consider catching up with the times, and if they did, voices with a myriad of different colorations could participate, instead of just voices that have had MOST of the color drained from them in order to project up to the cheap seats. Yes, there are times for color, and there are times for a pure, clear white sound. However, it seems to me that opera without mics really only matters now if you are expecting a power outage mid-performance.

    So long as opera fancies itself as “the big leagues” where only the best of the best will be allowed to take the stage, there will be problems filling the venues, because the rest of us will sit at home, under our earphones and put up with “second best”. There is a lot of incredible singing talent, using superior technique, but today, it is coupled with a shrill sound. My opinion.

    Today, opera would be well advised to thinks a bit more commercially, and start entertaining for “everyman’s” dollar.

    Sorry if this seems like a diatribe, but I really feel the opera world should get a grip and rejoin the rest of us. Obviously, you should not feel that this is directed at you specifically, but an open question for those who set the rules for opera, just as Ballanchine set the rules for ballet and the “perfect” ballet body type for so many years.

    • Rayna

      “Why not just mic everyone up, and have them sing in their most beautiful, most expressive voice, instead of their loudest voice?”

      Yeah, they do – it’s called Broadway. At least the mic-ed part. Beautiful is subjective. Many people love the bel canto sound. And why do you think variety in this case is bad?

  • Curt Carpenter

    We all hope, I think, that Amira will get careful and expert training IF she decides to continue to sing for us. But in the meantime, I listen to trained masters — Callas, Brightman — sing the three arias Amira performed, and find that the experience, while still beautiful — is of an entirely different quality.

    The insistence that Amira is “not an opera singer” is so obvious as to be insulting to our intelligence. Of course she isn’t — she’s only nine years old! But that should in no way detract from the beauty, skill and sheer presence of her performances.

    To say “I’m after the grownups creating this phenomena” is to make a great many assumptions about those grownups that I suspect you cannot justify and are most certainly unbecoming.

      • Curt Carpenter

        It’s certainly possible that I’m a fool, and that Amira is being shamelessly exploited at every turn by her parents, assorted “handlers,” crass commercial interests etc. etc. etc.. But i’ve neither seen or read about any credible evidence of this.

        What I have seen for myself is Amira’s huge smile after she has performed her O mio babbino caro and her Ave Maria.

        I see honest joy there, not any products of persecution or exploitation.

        She’s nailed two difficult performances, sang well, been on national TV in her home country, won the admiration of several million people… That’s a lot to tell her friends about at school!

        I could, of course, be deluded. But it seems horribly petty to deny this child that joy on the grounds that her Italian is inadequate. Good grief.

        • Rayna

          Guess what? The same thing happened to Hayley Westerna. She was young, cute, and everyone loved her. And then? She grew up. Not so cute to people anymore, and then look where she’s at now.

          • Rayna


            Oh, aren’t you oh-so-clever. I guess you’re going to conveniently forget that she developed nodules in 2004 – which required surgery – and now any one of her near-operatic attempts are laughable? Since you’re so knowledgeable about her career, what’s she doing now? Singing second-rate covers of Enya?

          • ibjonnyc

            Hmm IDK I haven’t heard since her recently sold out show in Hong Kong this past Dec.

          • ibjonnyc

            There is the name-calling again. It really is sad when someone resorts to low-brow tactics. I had wished to give you the benefit of the doubt but then you had to go and remove it.

          • Rayna

            the problems is you’re under the delusion that you’re contributing intelligent comments

          • ibjonnyc

            Perhaps it is a delusion and you are the all knowing one. Forgive my impertinance while I peruse this sight for any intelligent imput you have made. Nope Didn’t think so.

          • ibjonnyc

            Of coarse you do. And it is obvious that you lack the capability of expressing what you see in a civil manner. But I don’t mind. i am enjoying it none the less.

        • Rayna

          that was the point. see i don’t know if you have basic pattern recognition, but i tend to not care when i’m arguing with idiots.

          • ibjonnyc

            Tsk tsk. Another name calling. Your are obviously a veteran of internet chat. It seems prevalent in all types of forums but I expected a little more in this one. I guess there is really nothing that doesn’t resemble a battleground to be found in cyberspace.

        • Stella Scott

          As the owner of this blog I don’t mind you having a heated discussion and coming from complete different points of view. Nevertheless I ask for a polite tone, without name calling, cursing and personal attacks. If this becomes worse I’ll delete responses. Yes this is my home on the web, and I do set the rules.

          Thank you for being here. I appreciate it! :-)
          Stella Scott recently posted…Dr Martin Luther King Spoke As If He Knew.My Profile

        • sjunge

          @Curt Carpenter (and others): I have also seen Amira’s huge smile after her performance of Ave Maria. And that very moment also revealed to me the extreme tension she has in her body when singing. If you notice the huge changes in her facial expression and her body posture the moment the aria ends I think you will also begin to understand that this is very far from being a free voice but – as Stella Scott pointed out – it is a contrived voice. Surely you will also find this with some adult opera singers and it is a sad fact that many professional singers have to deal with a lot of voice problems because their voice is not as free as it ought to be. And in Amira’s case (and others) this is so much more concerning because it is happening to a body which is still growing and developing and more vulnerable to being treated like this than a matured body is. A lot of the comments on this blog reveals a big gap between what professionals and non-professionals hear in a voice. What non-professionals seem to be unaware of is that when you work with voices at a certain level you often also develop a kind of sympathetic hearing meaning that you feel in your own body what the singer you’re listening to is doing with her voice. The untrained person will normally not feel this, but will listen to the voice or it’s sound in a more external way only being aware of his own feelings, not the singer’s body sensations. The kind of reactions the trained person have can be quite extreme. Personally I remember listening to an out-of-tune singer some years ago while driving in my car. I was surprised that after a few minutes I had to choose between turning off the radio or pulling the car aside, open the door and simply throw up! Although I am very far from this strong kind of reaction when I listen to Amira I still DO get some unpleasant body sensations. In they tell me – in addition to what I hear – that this child is abusing her voice to some degree. And this is basically what concerns professionals. It’s not that they are jealous or envy this child. On the contrary: They care!

        • cabbagejuice

          @sjunge What you say is so profound! The professional voice teacher develops an intuitive sense for what is actually happening in the student’s body. Notice I didn’t say singer because even many (but not all) accomplished professionals cannot teach because they lack that ability to cross over and feel what is going on in someone else. Or if they do, cannot recognize and untangle the tensions in order to get a free sound from the student.
          In the early days of my training my teachers would say, that is not a free sound but occasionally it would slip through and they would say that’s it! I didn’t know the difference much less to be able to go back and do it right. Eventually, the hits became more than the misses to the point that unfree, contrived singing is like waving a red flag in front of me.
          Now I am faced with the same thing with my students. They do recognize when it “clicks” but I have to be there to help them make the setup to allow it to happen. This they cannot do by themselves, hence utterly ridiculous to hear that Amira learned opera by listening to youtube and the same goes for Jackie who by all appearances never had a proper teacher either.
          The fans come out with rejoicing anytime the vocal cords are given a clean bill of health. This is not the point at all. Bad habits are notoriously difficult to eradicate later on. This is what they don’t get and can’t predict precisely because they are not professionals and do not have experience with voices over long periods of time.

  • clarke ong

    I prefer Jackie Evancho to the opera I have heard.
    A great voice is a great voice, and the girl has a great voice.
    I hear you on the little girls singing adult stuff, but I don’t think its the end of the world.

    • Derek

      Agree, Clarke. Jackie (and/or her promotion team) made a quick and clever move from opera to musicals. Where operas are focused on the Bel Canto principle, with the voice and body producing the sound, electronic amplification is common practice in musicals. Don is also correct: Market potential in opera isn’t that good. Musicals are a much better choice.
      It would have been wise if the Dutch Voice team had made the same decision for Amira rather than pushing her for a Nessun Dorma performance that is way out of her league. Amira is still at the freak level without a clue about the songs she performs. I find it not a good sign that she apparently practiced many months without her parents offering to support her by looking up the songs on internet and explaining her what she sings. Her little brother plays the violin, which makes it somewhat odd that Amira never got support to do something with music.
      The world loves child prodigies, from Mozart to Michael Jackson to Justin Bieber. Few managed very well, most of them didn’t. I think Jackie Evancho has sufficient qualities to be in the first group. I have doubts about Amira. Her Italian pronunciation is inexistent (omiyo bappino caaro) en also her native language Dutch isn’t at par for a nine year old, so it will be tough for her to conquer the world’s most lucrative music arenas which require fluency in English (or Spanish).

      • clarke ong

        Thanks for responding Derek. For myself, I’ve never seen anybody with Jackies pure, raw musicality at her age.
        I don’t see what the big deal is with her “mimicry” either, as it seems that she is able to do with her limited physical abilities what others can only do after maturity.
        I have absolutely no problem with her manipulating her instrument. I’d say she’s a master at it.
        She has mastered her instrument. That is the definition of a musician.
        As far as being “contrived”? I don’t think there’s a pretentious bone in that girls body.
        She’s no fake.

        • Rayna

          “I don’t see what the big deal is with her “mimicry” either, as it seems that she is able to do with her limited physical abilities what others can only do after maturity.”

          The mimicry consists of compressing her larynx to imitate a rich dark voice, but she ends up sounding like Kermit the Frog on acid. Also, it damages the voice in the long run. I’d say that’s a problem. You know, if she wants to be a singer in the future.

          “I have absolutely no problem with her manipulating her instrument. I’d say she’s a master at it.
          She has mastered her instrument. That is the definition of a musician.”

          She is NOT a master. Clearly she isn’t – there are SO many technical deficiencies in her singing. The only reason why YOU don’t see it is because they choose very undemanding songs for her to sing. Listen to her sing anything out of her comfort zone (that does not include pop music) and she’d fall apart.

          “As far as being “contrived”? I don’t think there’s a pretentious bone in that girls body.
          She’s no fake.”

          How do you know this? Do you know her personally? Because America’s Got Talent is most definitely not an arbiter of authenticity – everything on there is carefully presented and gift-wrapped for your viewing experience. Trust me, they’re not going to show you want they don’t want you to see.

          • clarke ong

            Thank you for your opinion.
            Jackies vocal chords are pristine as of december 2013.
            Kermit the frog on acid doesn’t fill houses.
            Check out the waveform analysis of Jackies voice on youtube (Voice types 1)
            Nessun Dorma isn’t an “undemanding” song.
            How do I know she’s unpretentious? I don’t think I said I know, I think i said I don’t think she does.
            Sumi Jo thinks Jackie is amazing.

          • Rayna

            “Jackies vocal chords are pristine as of december 2013.”


            “Kermit the frog on acid doesn’t fill houses.”

            No, but ke$ha does. I guess she’s a vocal genius too now?

            “Nessun Dorma isn’t an “undemanding” song.”

            she lowered the key by several steps, had bad phrasing, can’t hold the notes… what else?

            “Sumi Jo thinks Jackie is amazing.”


          • ibjonnyc

            Seems that our word is not to be trusted Clark. It is a well known fact that Jackies vocal chords have always been under the very best care of one of the country’s best otolarygologists.Of course Jackie doesn’t sound like Kermit the Frog but it gives you an insight into the mentality of this poster.We know Nessun Dorma is demanding and that is why we appreciated it when Jackie performed it and I look forward when she gets the ok from her doctors and coaches to do so again. it was very beautiful and moving. And of course we have all seen the video of Sumi praising Jackie. but haters are haters. I’m just glad she didn’t choose opera over CC.

          • clarke ong

            She’s entitled to an opinion that differs from mine, I have no problem with that.
            As far as Nessun Dorma goes, all I have as a guide is what appeals to my emotions. I don[‘t care what key she sings it in or her phrasing. What I, and probably MOST people care about is how beautiful a song sounds to them.
            I’ve listened to many versions and Jackies is my favorite by miles.
            And as far as manipulating the instrument and jackies musicality (my comment about her mastering her instrument) It went right over his/her head, didn’t understand my point.
            As simply as I can put it is this: at 10 years onld, Jackie COULD DO what nobody else could, given the LIMITATIONS of her instrument.

  • Bryn Robinson

    I understand what you are saying but I find it so typical of the pretentiousness of the operatic community that it should seek to denigrate somebody for what they aren’t instead of praising them for what they are.

    • Derek

      To stay on-topic:
      Are Jackie and Amira opera singers? No.
      Could they become opera singers? Perhaps, if that is their passion and given lots of training.
      Will they become opera singers? No. The Voice/Idols companies are focused on making money from tv-shows. They transfer the contractual ‘rights’ (with a profit clause) on these kids to a record company that will own them for a handful of years. During that time, the kids will need to pay up to 50% of what they earn to the record company, and the company will decide on their career path. A quick return-on-investment is key before they are superseded by a kid-singer from next year’s show. That doesn’t match with a lengthy opera training.

      Can this be considered shameless child exploitation? Not from the perspective of the TV-show and record company. And the kids love to do this too, don’t they? Look at their sheer joy on tv when they’re done with their performance and the floor manager switches on the ‘big applause’ sign in the studio. And they’re going to make a handsome bundle of money from it as well, aren’t they? So everybody should be happy.

      I still feel there’s something improper in this setup, but I guess that’s just my limited view as a parent. I’m not at all fond of opera, by the way. I do recognize that it is an extremely complex profession because one needs a great voice, excellent pronunciation, and superb acting to become a star in this area. I wish Stella all the best in her career!

      • Stella Scott

        Many thanks Derek!

        You also seem to be very insightful about what is going on behind the scenes here. These girls aren’t making the decisions, they are pawns in a game. Sometimes that takes on a very sad turn, for the kids. I very much appreciate your input in this discussion! :-)
        Stella Scott recently posted…Leontyne Price Is My Heroine!My Profile

        • clarke ong

          Sometimes it does take a turn for the worse Stella. But not every time. So far, it does eem as if in Jackies case, this is not the actuality.
          Thats just my observation, and I’m the first to admit I could be wrong. I just don’t think I am in this case.

  • ibjonnyc

    Musical prodigies are rare and among them classical voice prodigies are even more rare. Jackie is listed among 2 other known vocal prodigies: Beverly Sills debuted at age 12 as did Julie Andrews. Jackie Evancho at age 10 became the youngest of the 3 to make her debut. There are so many qualities about her gifts that astound me but the one that stands out most remarkably to me is her ability to hit a note out of thin air.Pitch-perfect, pure and smooth. That is a very rare gift. I believe the technical term is “absolute pitch”. Then there is the ease with which she sings along her vocal register,from chest voice to head voice. It is obvious to me that when she sings she is not singing with the music but becomes the music. She conveys to her listeners what the piece of music is meant to convey.
    Now there is Amira. Strong voice but it is obvious to me that she lacks the “absolute pitch” when I listened to her perform “Ave Maria”…off key in some spots,flat in others and a shrillness to her voice when going for the high notes makes it pretty difficult for me to listen to for any length of time.
    I’m sure she will develope an “ear” for the music with practice and with training may develope a voice I can actually listen to without squinching.
    Now these girls are obviously not opera singers but they do have operatic voices. Whether they choose to be opera singers in the future depends on many things the developement of their voices being the most important. Amira has yet to reach puberty and Jackie is maybe a little over half way. Jackie has already stated and has made it very clear to anyone who will listen that she does not care to be an opera singer. She prefers Classic/ Crossover as do I. To my knowledge she has only performed 3 opera arias the rest being pop, musicals and broadway toons. Being CC she is free to do all those genres. and has even written one of her own for her next CD. I don’t know Amira’s choice of genres but it appears to be opera for now.. at least I hope it is her choice and not someone elses choice chosen for her..
    Now we come to my last comment. It seems to me that these girls, (by accident I am sure) have created displeasure among the opera world for merely singing and (horror of horrors) being mislabled by those not in the know as opera singers. Crazy thing is people who never listened to opera before now listen to (or at least are exposed) to some of the greatest music in history thanks to the adoring fans of these two young girls. I never knew who Maria Callas was or even Leontyne Price for the matter and never would have known if it weren’t for Jackie. Natalie Dessay is now a coloratura soprano I enjoy listening to even though she has left the opera stage as of June last yr to pursue pop and jazz music as well as theater. The pleasure of her beautiful voice would have been denied me if it weren’t for Jackie and her beautiful voice introducing us.

    • Derek

      Excellent comments, ibjonnyc! So any new discussions on this topic, irrespective if it is negative or positive (preferably the latter), will help to make opera more popular. :-)
      Small comment on Jackie: Her voice indeed sounded great with excellent pitch. Her vibrato was an artificial “gospel” vibrato created by jaw movements. This is easily seen when you watch her Youtube videos. I haven’t checked if she is still doing this. A good teacher should have been able to fix that in a few months.

        • Rayna

          Nope. I just looked at her “Oh Holy Night” on the Queen Latifah Show, which was just over a month ago.

          The crazy quiver in her lower jaw was still ever-present.

          Look, I know you like her, but you don’t need to make stuff up to defend her.

          • ben

            Rayna, shall we agree to disagree.? I offer my respect for your opinions.
            But I wonder: Have you ever purchased an expensive bottle of wine and found that it tasted bitter compared to a less expensive, personal favorite?

            With or without our opinions, the world will continue to turn cheerfully with voices some disapprove of. May you find peace!

          • Rayna

            i mean, there ARE objective standards to voice and pedagogy – it’s a science and it’s based on centuries of testing – not EVERYONE can just open their mouths and sing like renee fleming.

          • ibjonnyc

            I agree and by the same token not EVERYONE can open their mouths and sound like Jackie..or Amira for that matter.

    • Rayna

      seriously? pitch is not the end-all-be-all of music. who cares if Jackie can sing in tune (I love how being able to sing in tune now is a thing that will grant you prodigy status) when she can’t sing on the beat? Her “con te patiro” was atrociously lagging behind the tempo. she has virtually no vocal agility because her voice has no freedom. Have her sing a difficult aria and she’d pretty much die on stage. also, she had to transpose some of the music down several keys because she couldn’t hit the notes.

      “I never knew who Maria Callas was or even Leontyne Price for the matter and never would have known if it weren’t for Jackie.”

      i think that speaks more about you than jackie…

      • ibjonnyc

        Throughout history child prodigies have been a lightening rod for jealousy and resentment and Jackie is no exception. This is understandable since what comes so natural and easy for them requires years of training for adults to achieve. Your rage over a young girls talent is obvious. Perfect pitch is merely one of Jackie’s talents. The unmatched beauty of her voice and her ability to convey the meaning of a piece she sings… I could go on and on but you get the point I hope. You also seem to hold an issue about Jackie leading me to opera singers. Never cared for opera much and i still don’t. It’s a genre that just doesn’t hold any appeal at all to most of us in the civilized world. So if that speaks volumes to you about me being one of the “unwashed masses” I’ll gladly accept that. Mean while I will continue to listen to the voices that I love to to listen to and like it or not Classical/Crossover is here to stay It is the genre that is bringing opera arias to us “unwashed masses” in the beauty and style we prefer,and Jackie is awesome and just keeps impossibly improving every single time I see her. It really doesn’t matter what those in the opera world think of her. They have no impact on Jackie’s career what-so-ever and it would definately be a tragedy to humanity and the arts if they did. No she is not pretentious.She is a little girl doing what she loves and is successful at it but if thinking of her as some little strumpet diva helps you sleep at night then by all means continue. Being a relatively new fan of Jackie’s and one of the “unwashed masses” I am eagerly looking forward to her new CD and unprecedented 3rd PBS special this year.

        • Rayna

          LMAO @ me being jealous of Jackie.

          If there was anyone i’d be jealous of, it’d be Maria Callas, Leontyne Price. you know, the greats that ACTUALLY spent years mastering their craft? Now THOSE are voices and talents to be jealous of.

          • ibjonnyc

            Nope. you jealousy of a little girls natural talent is extremely obvious. you can’t hide it.

          • Rayna

            lol, the e-therapist is giving me diagnoses online. what will you do next? make the world flat with your dazzling rhetoric? too bad all the BS in the world can’t make Jackie a “master” at singing.

          • ibjonnyc

            She doesn’t need to be a “master” to please the ear and caress the heart and mold the soul with her singing. Seems she has already mastered the most important aspects. That is something that few rarely master and that includes opera singers.

          • ibjonnyc

            If you call that a concession? All I did was list qualiteis that most opera singers do not possess nor can it be learned. Please continue. I like arguing with the pretentious.

          • Rayna

            “All I did was list qualiteis that most opera singers do not possess nor can it be learned.”

            yeah, youd know all about that, wouldnt you.

          • ibjonnyc

            Yes I do know all about that. That is one of the reasons Jackie is as successful as she is while most opera singers remain in obscurity.

        • Rayna

          “ever cared for opera much and i still don’t. It’s a genre that just doesn’t hold any appeal at all to most of us in the civilized world. So if that speaks volumes to you about me being one of the “unwashed masses” I’ll gladly accept that. ”

          you are truly the epitome of braveness and the defender of people from barbaric opera-heathens. i almost shed a tear.

          • ibjonnyc

            I have admitted total ignorance? Did I unknowingly sign a confession of some sort?Ok I shall drop the act and assume another. Just let me find my cowboy hat first. I do a mean Clint Eastwood if i do say so myself… dang… I just did say so myself. The meds are making me loopy.

  • Tara H

    I always have to be careful when I talk about this because most people tend to misunderstand what I mean. Generally, I would say that anyone (regardless of age) who attempts to sing arias which have been held to particular standards for beauty and expression deserves equal treatment as far as assessing how well they perform. I don’t think these girls are choosing arias based off of a teacher’s recommendations though, so maybe that isn’t quite fair. I actually DO think that they’re very talented (and I’ll include Sofia Asghara and Czech singer Patricia Janeckova). I had a similar voice to Jackie Evancho when I was that age. Eventually my voice developed naturally, and I’m definitely a mezzo with a pretty nice chest voice when I get the opportunity to show it off. But being talented and having potential does NOT mean that a singer is ready to handle arias, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they have peaked at 12 or 13. There is repertoire written with younger voices in mind, and if they had performed any of them, maybe there wouldn’t be so much criticism. From my background, I sang a LOT of English choral music, which has a rich amount of music written for trebles (which is really what they would all still be at this point). Based on the music I’ve heard most of these girls sing, I have a hard time imagining them being able to handle a lot of that music, and even the standard Italian Art Songs seem out of reach. Again, I do think they have some very nice qualities to their voices, especially as far as range and tone are concerned, but the breath support is not there yet.

    I almost hesitate to say there are true “child prodigies” when it comes to vocalists. The two that are always given as examples (Beverly Sills and Julie Andrews) clearly still sounded their age when they sang. They were talented, and they had a much more professional way of expression and phrasing than most children that age, but most people would not think they were adults at that time. Just quickly looking at singers who “peaked” earlier, they all tend to have lighter voices, and most likely are sopranos.

    I suppose part of what I don’t like about this promotion is the kind of message this sends to younger females wanting to sing classically, that the ones who get the attention and “success” are significantly younger and are held up as prodigies. Is it in some ways sending a message that if you didn’t sound like that at 12 that you can’t have a successful career? I don’t know. But I do know that I’m 27 now and my voice didn’t really start to sound nice until around 25. Up until that point, it was okay, the tone was fine, but something just wasn’t there yet. It’s frustrating when at that age all of the sopranos seem much more developed and further along, but vocal development just isn’t able to be rushed.

    I have other thoughts on this subject, but I think my comment is already long enough! I do wish the best for these girls, and hope that they are able to allow their voices to develop naturally.

  • Rayna

    I love how you have all these comments saying how Amira “moved them” or “made them appreciate opera/classical music” when they are clearly bull-headed and staunch to remain in ignorance of ACTUAL classical musicians and obviously have no respect for the history of classical music. We are in dire need of more self-awareness here. Funnier still are the arguments that basically say “Amira is famous, so she must be a good singer” – um hello, so are Britney and Rihanna.

    Otherwise, it’d be obvious that Jackie Evancho forces her larynx down and swallows all her sound, artificially darkening her voice to mimic the sound of a 30-year-old. Her voice is NOT free, and she has no clue what she’s singing. Same with Amira: awful-to-amateur phrasing, can’t maintain a balanced vocal line, etc. But apparently they’re “prodigies” or whatever.

    • Derek

      Big Like.
      Amira recently had a ‘masterclass’ from Andre Rieu, the man that made waltzes and classical music popular via his extravagant concert events. It was funny to hear Rieu’s comment: “You know, I’m not a voice teacher. I just know how to make music, so that’s what I’m trying to do with her and trying to explain to her what’s she’s actually singing about”.

      “Oh how wonderful, really wonderful opera would be if there were no singers!” (Gioacchino Rossini)

    • ibjonnyc

      Well Jackie is listed as a prodigy. Not sure about Amira. You hate it. We get it And we don’t care. What is funny is that you can’t stand the fact that 2 little wonders are making opera arias more popular among the “unwashed masses” than the actual opera singers.Reading your comments leaves little to wonder why Natalie Dessay fled the opera stage especially if you are typical of those in the opera genre. I am just thankful Jackie isn’t interested in being an opera singer.

      • Rayna

        “Well Jackie is listed as a prodigy.”

        where’s the list? wikipedia?

        “You hate it. We get it And we don’t care.”

        Yes, just keep telling me how much you don’t care with all these words you’re writing.

        • ibjonnyc

          Seems you don’t care for others comments disputing yours. Too bad. Youn are not the end all be all. Speaking of pretentious it seems all you need to do is gaze in the mirror for the definition.

          • Rayna

            I don’t care for ignorant morons, a classification which you fall neatly under. Everything I’ve said is grounded in FACT, whereas you know absolutely nothing so you resort to completely made up “information” to suit the needs of your argument (apparently there’s a definitive LIST out there that states that Jackie is prodigy, lmao). I guess it’s as they say: necessity is TRULY the mother of invention.

        • ibjonnyc

          The list exists. I am not going to dispute it. That seems to be your job.The facts you claim I find as mere conjecture on your part. I have made nothing up. Just stating the obvious and in some instances observing the responses. I don’t know what the mother of invention is but it seems necessity would be a very strong reason.

          • Rayna

            “The list exists. I am not going to dispute it.”

            aka im espouting total bs again.

            “That seems to be your job.”

            it’s called burden of proof. also, clearly, i can’t find it if it doesn’t exist.

          • Rayna

            aw, do you want a imaginary handkerchief for your internet tears? :'(

            lol, please like you haven’t done the same.

          • ibjonnyc

            Projecting? No just merely being observant and checking your responses. It is giving me something to do while I recover from the flu.

        • ibjonnyc

          Why no. I haven’t resorted to low-brow tactics as you have.Of course I am not as upset as you seem to be Such behavior is usually a result of a limited intelligence but again I will try and give you the benefit of a doubt.

          • Rayna

            “Of course I am not as upset as you seem to be Such behavior is usually a result of a limited intelligence”

            lol keep projecting

    • Bert de Vree

      Dear Rayna,
      I say this only once, so listen carefully
      Hear AMIRA’s first CD album
      and let me know…
      kind regards, Bert

  • Derek

    Keep it cool folks.
    ibjonnyc makes a good point. It is all in the ear of the beholder. Objectively speaking (as far as possible) we can state that these girls are not (yet) at a professional level. They lack items mentioned by Rayna such as pitch, timing, voice control and they don’t fully understand the context of what they are singing. They may further be pawns in the hands of large entertainment companies aiming for profit.

    But there still can be many people out there that simply enjoy seeing a little girl sing irrespective if they sing good or bad. As performer it sometimes is surprising to experience that, even if you have had an off-night in your own view, most people don’t seem to notice and are delighted with the performance. McDonalds is the last place on earth where I’d like to buy food but some 100 million people seem to have a different perspective.

    A bad opera singer can still be considered an opera singer, so I must conclude that I should agree to Stella’s topic.

    Luciano Pavarotti said: “You don’t need any brains to listen to music.” and
    Voltaire wrote: “Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.”

    • Rayna

      I’m mostly miffed that there are a bunch of people attacking the blogger for pretty much daring to state widely-accepted paradigms in classical singing without ANY sort of expertise in opinion to back up their assertions. And then when the tables turn on them (aka when someone states something using the same tone the attackers themselves did), people like “ibjonnyc” can’t STAND it, so they resort to record sales (as though it were a barometer of talent and craft) and made-up “facts” to justify their SUBJECTIVE preferences.

      But it’s all good. I just want to make sure another voice is heard amongst all this crowding around.

        • Rayna

          Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let people who don’t know better get you down!

          I’m really interested in learning more about opera and classical singing, so I’ll definitely be following you from now on. I do have some questions, but I figured that this isn’t the best place the post them, haha.

      • ibjonnyc

        I suspect the blogger knew what she was doing when she made the blog and invited the reponses. Such an article is going to generate clicks and that is basically what they are for are they not?

        • Stella Scott

          I can assure you I had no idea what I was doing. Some clicks yes, but lifting the lid of the bees hive? The rage, the rudeness, the insults and impressive degrading comments about my person, my talents, my voice that I’ve encountered? And all of this going on for almost three months? Nope! It was all news to me. Learning by blogging I call it now. :-)
          Stella Scott recently posted…Your Future Will Crave Multiple Streams Of IncomeMy Profile

          • ibjonnyc

            My mistake. I just thought you being in Classical music you would have by now been exposed to a Norman Lebrecht blog or another with a similar subject and also the same result. They have been numerous since an unassuming young girl made her debut on AGT singing a condensed version of an operatic aria in her C/C style.The subject of Amira is a new one and therefore the resulting comments are probably going to be even more numerous and especially rabid at this early stage. Amira has a very powerful voice for one so young but it is very obvious it is a raw untrained power. i personally can’t listen to her sing for very long because of the numerous missed notes and when she strains to hit the high notes I just squinch. One must really worry for her vocal health if the repertoire remains as is.The show she performed on also mislabled the child as an opera singer,and to be honest she does sing in a more operatic style than Jackie. Amira,like Jackie,was blessed with an operatic voice not the more numerous pop voices,celtic voices etc. but operatic. They have the clear,pure tone of voice and they have far more range even at their young ages than a typical pop singer. Therefore if they wish to have a career as singers they will choose either opera or C/C or maybe even celtic but they will never be pop because the populace will never be able to match their vocals in a sing-a-long.Jackie has chosen C/C like her heroine Sarah Brightman.Amira’s choice seems to be opera so far. Whatever her choice I just hope she gets the quality of care that Jackie has been blessed with.

          • ibjonnyc

            Of course she has an operatic voice. Everyone knows this except you?Her operatic voice is one of the reasons she is in this blog and being discussed in the first place. Her bell tone is nearly perfect and almost identical to Sissel’s when placed side by side. As a matter of fact her rendition of “Pie Jesu” on AGT sounded strikingly similar to Sissel’s renditition. Either you are trying to deny the fact that she has an operatic voice or woefully ignorant of what an operatic voice sounds like. Either way that simple sentence lowered your credence to the cellar floor. Too bad really.

          • clarke ong

            Oh goody, I passed the math test and can post.
            Check out youtube “voice types 1”
            Jackie does have an opera voice. A very pure one.

  • ben

    If some people, who do not know better, choose to think that Jackie or Amira are opera singers, is this really harmful to anyone? Perhaps the only “harm” occurs when people, who are so strongly identified with their opinions and pursuits, cannot control what they say to others and say mean things to them.

    We cannot offer anything of lasting value to others until we learn how to control our own emotions and treat others with respect and kindness. Let this wisdom bless us in our lives and our conversations with each other!

    • Derek

      Learning how to control one’s emotions and responses obviously is more difficult and takes more time than learning to control your voice…. :-)

      Some months ago I heard the eminent pianist Jorge Luis Prats state: “It takes the first four years of your life to learn how to speak. It will take you the rest of your life to learn how to shut up.”

  • Dusty Reed

    Why not just enjoy? It’s the media that calls them “opera” singers. They have beautiful voices and I am grateful they are willing to share their talent! I listen to Jackie Evancho sing “To Believe” at least once a week. Very inspiring!!

  • Johan Nilsson

    Hi !

    I´m wondering if someone here could explain to me what the difference is between this Amira Willighagen and a 9 year old Jussi björling here preferably in a way a non singer could understand, i can hear her voice is not as polished and less flexible, but what else ?

    For those unfamiliar wiht Jussi:

    • Stella Scott

      Thanks Johan for sharing one of the best tenors ever lived! :-)
      In very simpel words: Jussi and his two brothers have breath control. (Their father was an accomplished singing teacher, training them.) Proper breathing is what supports the voice. That way the vocal chords don’t get tired and you don’t have to take breath in the middle of a word.
      As yet no one has taught Amira how to take a breath and where to take it, therefore as soon as she runs out she must gasp, right in the middle of a word. It is also why her voice wobbles now and then. A sure sign of getting tired out by the phrase. She is doing a great job nevertheless, but Puccini is kind of taxing even for a grown up, trained singer.
      Did this make any sense for you? :-)

  • dawn

    Your post and the linked ones are very enlightening. However, the tone of your post came across as condescending, to me, when it should be educational.
    Opera is a higher art form that fewer, and fewer, appreciate thus, as another post stated, cannot be sustained. Jackie and Amira could possibly revive the art by bringing it to the wider audience, and maybe a few out of the millions who have seen them will help sustain the art in one form or another. Possibly?
    I do agree that it’s popera (a word used by a commenter on one of the linked blogs) but it’s better than nothing shared. I imagine there are people out there who, after listened to Amira or Jackie, had dusted off old opera disks or went out and bought tickets to an opera, or at least saving up to do so.
    Your view and those of the linked blog on this topic is nothing new. It’s similar to that of hardcore rappers have about Enimem and Mackelmore. Though I don’t follow hard rock or classic R&B or other genre closely, I imagine there are “amateurs” who the “professionals” have viewed with disdain. An analogy outside of the music world would be “yoga”. I’m sure there were plenty of Indian mystics were gritting their teeth but look how “yoga” is viewed, and practiced, by the West now versus ten years ago.

  • JamesA

    You (and several commenters) complain that she is not an opera singer. You ignore, completely, her own admission that she has had no training, whatsoever. To be a good opera singer, one must start with an inherently good voice, which she has, and couple it with training, which she has not yet received, but, undoubtedly, will. I would hate to have been around if a young Maria Callas were to have appeared in an early form of “[Whatever country]’s got talent.” I am confident that you and many commenters here would have dismissed her as “untrained,” etc.

    Others have commented that she can never be a god opera singer because opera requires suffering. Because she has what seems to be a very loving family and has not come from a dysfunctional family means she cannot sing opera? Oh, how Neanderthal.

  • David Youse

    Is Amira Wilighagen an opera singer? No, of course not! She is a young girl with a wonderful voice who has gained fame because of her performance on a TV talent show where she sang an operatic aria. Her performance was far from technically perfect, but she shows promise and, with maturity and training she will undoubtedly male a name for herself.

    YouTube is replete with videos of pre-teens who, on first hearing appear to be mature performers but, on further reflection show they are simply innately talented with whatever instrument they use, whether it be piano, violin, trumpet, or voice. All of them, Amira included, will either become accomplished adult performers or will burn out, never to be heard of again.

    Give her a chance.

    • Lynette

      Yes, indeed, give her a chance. Give her a chance by making her wait until she’s at least 16 years old before attempting to sing any operatic literature, and then start her with the baroque composers such as Handel and Purcell, and perhaps some Salieri and light Mozart. Give her a chance by giving her a good voice instructor who will allow her to sing like a little girl until her voice starts maturing into the sound that it’s going to be as a young woman. Give her a chance to grow into a mature, intelligent musician and singer before you ask her to “thrill” you with music that is not only beyond her technically, but dangerous and damaging to her voice at this stage in the game. Yes, by all means, give this little girl a chance to be a child, and stop putting your needs to be awed and entertained by her “purity” and “innocence” before her needs to grow up a little bit before she can fulfill your needs and expectations.

  • Mejnour

    I won’t argue with all your elaborated intellectuals and emotionals comments which are all
    well developp…quality rational like.

    but me I suffer from a deep deformation, I see what other don’t see….lol

    1) I see a little nice girl signing in his purest and simpliest way.
    2) I see that there is clearly something pure and beautifull passing thru her.
    I wish her to be able to keep it with her!

    Kids at this age are monkeys but Amira have extra help that may disappear in a couple of years with her full integration of his emotional and mental bodies ultimately leading to the rienforcement of the ego which is decrease medium capacity.

      • ben

        Although Lynette has given a perfect example of how wondrous and beautiful true operatic singing can be, I still enjoy and prefer this classical rendition and untrained voice:

        Whatever is most pleasing to the ear is what matters to me.
        Technique is not important to many of us.
        I respect other people and their taste in sopranos. There are many to choose from! :)

        • Lynette

          It really doesn’t matter what matters to you. The issue is that because this young girl is singing an operatic piece, it requires the use of proper technique or it WILL damage her voice. It’s not about what you like or don’t like. It’s about the abuse that this child’s voice is subject to because a) this piece is technically too difficult for her immature vocal mechanism, and b) the fact that if she keeps singing literature such as this without using proper technique, she won’t have a voice left by the time she’s twenty years old.

          I’ll give you an analogy: Would you ask a nine-year-old child to bench press 300 pounds? Of course not! They would hurt themselves! But that’s exactly the same thing these girls are doing when they sing operatic literature. They’re “bench pressing” 300 pounds when their vocal muscles are too underdeveloped to do so.

          Screw what you think is beautiful. All I can hear (and see) is the irreversible damage that is happening to these girls voices.

        • ibjonnyc

          I agree with you Ben. Jackie had an extremely beautiful voice at that age and that is my favorite rendition of that piece.I also love her rendition of “Ombra Mai Fu.” She is nearly 14 yrs old now and sounds even better. Have you seen her “Bridge Over Troubled Water” video? Looking forward to her concert in Detroit at the Fox Theatre April 13. Wish I could make the benefit concert in Ontario, Ca.

          • ben

            Yes, ibjonnyc, I have seen the video you mention. It is lovely. :)
            Her voice sounds a little different than usual to me though.
            I believe that singing while standing in a pond of water, the sound of her voice was reflected off the water in a subtle way giving a distinctive brightness to the sound of her voice.

          • ben

            …..ibjonnyc, you are lucky to be able to hear her in concert, live. I was fortunate enough to attend concerts in Salt Lake City twice—-once in March of 2012 and again on November 9 of 2013. :)

            When you see her in April, she’ll be an old lady of 14! 😀

        • ibjonnyc

          LOL. I know Ben. I had only recently discovered Jackie so I didn’t have the pleasure of watching her blossom into the young artist she is today. I was in a haze of depression for a few years and just happened to be watching TV (something I rarely do) on July 4 when this young lady appeared on the stage and started singing with that beautiful voice.I quickly looked her up on the internet and I can honestly say I was shocked to find that this young girl had already been performing for 3 + yrs, had 5 CD’s and 2 PBS specials…and I had never heard of her. I almost feel cheated :) her voice has become a tonic for my soul. She might be a little seasoned (lol) but I am very much looking forward to my first Jackie concert.

          • ben

            You needn’t feel cheated… There are plenty of videos out there to view! You can “virtually” watch her grow up! I first saw her on the net late in 2011. I was blown away by her performance in a Houston church captured by a fan on video.

            I have read your comments on the free forum for Jackie’s fans.

            Happy listening, viewing, and, of course, commenting! 😀

        • ibjonnyc

          Thank you Ben. I do enjoy watching her videos. Everything from her AGT performances all the way to her Queen Latifah performances. I have all her CD’s (except of course for her PTAD CD) and her DVD’s. I would love to own Prelude but the prices on e-bay are a little beyond my wallet size. Anyway it seems that 2014 is going to be a good year for Jackie and her fans. I can hardly wait for her new CD and PBS special.

  • Davi Youse

    I’m glad that Stella Scott and the other nay-sayers here weren’t around when Mozart was 9 years old, or even earlier when he began composing and performing at the age of 5. His father would have been denounced for exploitism and his talent would have been quashed. If he was expected to hide until he was mature he might have only been known now as a moderately good teacher or orchestra performer.

    Amira has a true innate and self-taught talent, and she is wise enough to realize that if she doesn’t achieve her musical goals then there other routes she can follow. There is absolutely nothing wrong with encouraging her and providing her with the training that will help her now. Her talent could be a loss for the world if she is forced to wait for “maturity.”

    I suspect that ones own limitations are what drive the criticisms offered…

      • David Youse

        True, but he was using underdeveloped and immature hand and arm muscles on the piano and violin. Those unnatural hand positions could have led to carpal tunnel damage and permanent disabilities. I’d say that underdeveloped vocal chords are no more important than underveloped hand and wrist tendons.

        The only important thing about Amira is that she’s doing what she wants, not what she’s being pushed into. She deserves only encourgement and praise.

        • Lynette

          Instruments of the 18th century were far different than modern instruments–keys were smaller, actions softer. The music was melismatic, fugal, and chromatic in nature. There were no large chords to stretch for. It was about dexterity, not power, volume or expanse. It was perfectly within the muscular and dexterity capabilities of a child. Children today who play the piano at young ages play Bach, Mozart, Clementi, and other baroque and classical composers that require nimble dexterity and less power so that their delicate muscles and joints aren’t damaged. Nice try, but no.

        • ibjonnyc

          Ultimately Dave,all things being what they are, what matters is what you like,what you find beautiful to listen to,not what others wish for you. There is really no need to defend these kids because you will be doing that for possibly the next 10 years or more even though you feel it necessary to do so. There will always be naysayers. You would think these girls stole someone’s lunch at times. Be that as it may,Jackie is doing fine in her chosen genre,and you can tell Amira is getting training by the improvement in her singing since HGT. Hopefully they will follow similar paths of such child singers as Julie Andrews and Beverly Sills.None can foresee what the future will be,but whatever it is that future will come. Let’s hope for the best.

    • Derek

      Wow. Didn’t realise this discussion was still going on, but I guess it could just as easily go on for another twenty years.

      Ever heard of Katherine Jenkins? The British singing sensation? Started singing at 7, winning choir contest at 10, finishing studies at the Royal Academy of Music with excellent marks. Stunning looks. Multiple CDs with great sales in UK and abroad. Performances with Andre Rieu (of course). That’s what Amira and Jackie could eventually become: Popra /CC singers.
      In the two reviews below you’ll see the same discussion as being held here.

      This might be a good time to close this topic due to lack of added value.
      “Never the twain shall meet”

  • David Youse

    As my final comment on this whole subject, I will say that I have been an opera lover for 60+ years. In my pre-teen years, when others were outside playing on Saturdays I was inside listening to the Metropolitan Opera and Milton Cross. The music is what first attracted me but, thanks to Mr. Cross, I soon found that there were actually great stories behind the music.

    Perhaps listening to those performances on a low-fi Crosley table radio robbed me of certain nuances of the music but I knew no better and loved it nonetheless.

    Over the years, not living in an urban area with access to live performances I had to rely on various types vinyl and tape media to get my cultural fixes. I still have to rely on my vinyl collection and now Sirius radio for my enjoyment.

    Although I am a lover of opera, and classic music in general, I in no way consider myself an aficionado. I don’t attempt to show off my knowledge by dropping names or making comparisons and I consider those who do to be snobs. I know I wouldn’t even be close to performing in public and anyone who can do what I can’t deserves my total respect.

    The young ladies at the head of this column both have wonderful voices and I get chills listening to each of them, as I do when listening to professionally trained professionals. I don’t care when their voice breaks on a high note, I don’t care that their small statures can’t project to the rear of an auditorium without amplification, I don’t care if they’re a quarter tone off on a certain note, I don’t care that they are rather pleasant looking – they sound the same with my eyes closed.

    What I do care about is the music; the opinions of others will never change that.

  • Rob

    I don’t see why all the criticism. I can understand and appreciate “genuine” opera singers wishing to protect something that they have spent their lives developing and are passionate about, etc., from amateurs with no appreciation for what they’re attempting to do. But at the same time, let’s try to keep it in perspective, shall we? This is a little girl (Amira) entering into a nationally televised talent show. That’s it. She’s not attempting to represent herself as an “opera singer,” just a kid with a dream of being on TV for something most kids her age could never achieve, and hopefully some prize money. I think she has potential, and with the proper care and study/work she may have a future as a singer of at least some genre of music, if she wishes that for her life and her parents are willing to invest in that kind of commitment. I’m sorry, but I view this criticism as raining on a young girl’s parade, and little more.

  • David Youse

    Are Jackie Evancho And Amira Willighagen Opera Singers?

    That’s the title of this rant. Let me ask a question – Have either of them ever claimed to be opera singers? It seems that you are the one who applied the term to each of them, and then went on to prove they are not “opera singers.” Each of them started their public appearances by singing beautiful melodies taken from operas but neither of them have ever claimed to be an opera singer.

    You should have titled your rant, “Are Jackie Evancho and Amira Willighagen Talented Little Girls?” and let it go at that. Criticism is often given by those who feel threatened. Get a grip woman, neither of these youngsters is a threat to you or your profession.

    • cabbagejuice

      If Simon Cowell proclaimed Amira a “total star” after her O Mio Babbino, then it must have the weight of Holy Writ.
      This is really intriguing – we’ll be out of jobs soon:
      “Instead of attending singing lessons, Amira revealed she had taught herself the art of opera via watching YouTube videos online.”
      it’s a little tricky but not impossible to disentangle the argument: “she is not an opera singer but sings some arias”. The point is that the technique is inadequate for anything they are singing professionally. The faults, more transparent in operatic arias, reveal symptoms rather than causes.
      “Classical crossover” is used more as an excuse for this lack of development. And “we like it, so what?” is the rock bottom argument except for the selfishness of the fans and promoters who really don’t care about the kids’ future.

  • carmabella25

    I agree youngsters with undeveloped voices should be careful not to overdo it. My daughter is a budding classical singer of 16 and I know her vocal instructor feels the same. This little Amira sings beautifully, though, and her parents probably have little knowlege of such cautions. I admit that, if my own daughter had come to me with that at 9 and said, “Hey Mom, listen to this!” I would not have known or had the heart to say, “Cut that out before you hurt yourself!” I wishher success, happiness, and safety. I would love to hear where development takes her voice 20 years from now.

  • Kathy Aitken

    There is something utterly phoney about these ‘operatic’ performances by children: it is mimicry rather than singing. Pity more people can’t tell the difference!

    • Chris Crilly

      Kathy A, of course Amira W’s singing is mimicry. What else could the singing of such music by an untrained 9 year-old possibly be? Would you have all the talented children of the world simply not sing until they have absorbed adult technique, angst, experience, a grasp of Italian, Russian, German and French, coloratura, bel canto, baroque and other vocal crafts before they are encouraged to open their mouths?….you see my point.
      The child is a child. Neither she nor anyone close to her claims that she is an opera singer. Complaining, as Stella has à plusieures reprises, that neither Amira nor in fact most Americans know anything about opera is to prop up a straw man. Let us not forget that most of the world (Amira and myself included) are not Americans. This little girl is a wonderful breath of fresh air. I join a previous commentator in hoping the Simon Cowells of this world can be held at bay while Amira grows up.

    • Bert de Vree

      Dear Kathy
      this is very unfair; listen to Amira’s CD album;
      be honest and come again,
      kind regards, Bert

  • Andy Jack

    Amira Wiliighagen’s critics, e.g, “her Italian is terrible etc” just want to find SOMETHING to be critical instead of remembering that Amira said she learned to sing WATCHING YouTube – so if the singers she watched used poor Italian so would Amira. I say close your mouths and celebrate the girls drive, ambition and success. I prefer watching the multitude of videos of TV stations, interviews, and reported inspirations Amira has had on others. It is like Judge Gordon of Holland Has Talent said “I wish I had a daughter like you.” Too bad the world has so many nay sayers instead of achievers.

  • Ugis

    Did You heard “Song to the moon” from Amira Willighagen album? It’s answer to all Your critics, a best rendition of this area I ever heard.

  • Brian P. Foflygen

    Up until I heard Jackie sing, I had no interest in classical music or opera in particular, I’m an old lock-n-roll junkie. I like Jackie Evancho’s music and IMO she has done more to promote those genres and expose the unwashed masses to that beautiful art form than anybody I know. I now purchase and listen to classical music, discovered and follow Renee Fleming and several other classical abd opera artists now

  • Ruben

    Miss Stella Scott, my opinion is.. Childrens also haveThe feeling to sing song like these… Im also a musician.. and studied more than 15 years… I agree in some points with you.. she need experiences,, and maybe technical knowledge.. but the most important think in the music is to move the people´s emotions.. not the perfection… just check the crowd… the only truth is they liked… maybe is not as good as you want.. but.. moves hearts, people, rating, money, gossip, and the best of all.. the love…

  • eddy

    Amira is like Gordon and countless millions say a pure star and a gift to mankind. She never said she was an “Opera singer” she just said she was going to sing opera songs. She is self taught and I think she taught herself very well. Who are you ben and Stella to destroy such beautiful singing dreams like this remarkable 10 year old girl’s
    ? All the negative comments from ben and Stella…. such remarkable role models to be voicing such negativity towards children.

    • ben

      eddy, no words were uttered by me to discourage Amira. Please re-read what I said a few months ago:
      ..” Young singers (like Amira) are now coming out of the woodwork attempting to emulate Jackie Evancho. But there is no real harm in that. Instead of offering negative criticism, let us wish her success and fulfillment in her future endeavors, for true talent wins out eventually and a young person who truly loves to sing and is good at it, can probably realize a lasting hobby if not a lifetime vocation.”

      Amira saw Jackie Evancho on television and it inspired her to sing. If you will notice, she even began by singing the same songs. Everyone wants to emulate their heros/heroines, hense, the saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” :)

      May Amira and Jackie have long and prosperous careers—-no matter what they choose to do!

  • Alex Lim

    I can very well understand why some people like you Stella Scott are appalled at kids singing a Puccini as if they just blasphemed sacred scripture. Somehow, you remind me of the queen in Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.

  • Alex Lim

    Let me correct myself, if you had seen the movie Amadeus, there’s the more apt comparison. You Stella Scott have the same disposition as Antonio Salieri had over the child prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It’s interesting that you would want people with singing talents to promote themselves through you. And yet when someone like Amira or Jackie gets center stage and adored by millions by having promoted themselves through a talent show, you and your kind take umbrage. Neither talent has called herself an opera singer. They just have an operatic singing style as youthful sopranos mimicking a Callas or a Caballe. What they showed was a breathtaking promise that is well beyond anything that a 9-year old singing Do-Re-Mi can show. They are no different from kids who mimic a Michael Jackson after watching a video of their idol on YouTube. Your issue against them about going beyond understanding what they sing, breathing control. and into culture, history, etc is expecting the moon. Contrived singing? My goodness what did you expect from a 9-year old?

    • cabbagejuice

      Alex, Ben, Eddy, Ruben, Ugis and others like you are missing the point COMPLETELY. Preteens and even teenage vocal cords and muscles cannot support this type of repertoire.
      Recently I stumbled on Amira singing the Ode to the Moon by Dvorak. I hope that this is only concocted in the studio and she will not dare to sing it in public. She barely gets through the phrases. There is a high Bb at the end that should not be attempted in full voice by someone so young.
      The same goes for Evancho in her new recorded “Think of Me” that may very well be a carbon copy of Emmy Rostum. She does the high floated staccato stuff OK but what in tarnation gives her or anyone else the impression that she can belt it out as well as a 25+ year old with years of training behind her?
      Patience is needed here, by the young singers who want fame and exposure right away, by the public who clamor to hear them and by those who are making money from it, which to me is the least defensible.

      • ben

        Do you mean Emmy Rossum? :)
        No one can be a carbon copy of anyone else. Not even identical twins.

        Your endless angst for young singers is duly noted. 😉
        But will it do any good? Not likely, because you need to talk to the parents of these children— not us!

        May you find some peace!

        • cabbagejuice

          Putting a sheet of tracing paper and copying down to the last detail is an accurate description of what these kids are doing. Check out young Connie Talbot’s practically exact imitation of Eva Cassidy’s “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. At least Amira admitted she learned “opera” from youtube.
          The process is no doubt standing in front of the screen umteen times until the video is assimilated down to the last detail. This is how Jackie got started by imitating songs from Phantom of the Opera since the age of 8. Innumerable instances followed such as almost the complete repertoire from Charlotte Church and Aled Jones. She picked up gestures and facial expressions from Brightman and Westenra. One of her most incredible coups was her camera like copy of Kathleen Battle’s “Lovers” with ALL the little inflections and phrasing. All this not to mention the others like Enya, Streisand, Fabian, whose hairstyle is remarkably like the sultry image that seems to be her current trademark. Not to give credit to these sources, to me is dishonest.
          Children do learn by imitation but in singing there is a problem because the way these songs are learned today by kids is superficial. The work of carving out an individual interpretation is passed over as in La vie en Rose cherry-picked by Evancho from Dion.
          But more than that, the supportive technique is not there. These are counterfeit $100 bills that are not backed up by the Federal Reserve and will bounce back at some point. This happened vocally to Church and Jones although one can give them credit for being more original in their teenage years.

          • ben

            Although I disagree with you, I respect your opinion.
            Personally, I have never heard any voice that sounds like Jackie Evancho’s. I have listened to both her rendition of “Lovers” and Ms. Battle’s. I hear no similarity whatsoever! But then, that’s just me. :)

            Good luck in all your endeavors!

      • Ron

        Amen. Your concerns have been my concerns since day 1 with Miss Evancho. All I, or any of us, can do is to trust her parents, coaches, and specialist physicians to prohibit vocalization that could harm her. However, I consider her such a treasure that I’m still made uneasy when I hear her perform Nessum Dorma and exercises such as the one you mention (the recently-recorded “Think of Me” from POTO). Damage to her exquisitely-rare instrument would be a loss to the whole world. I imagine that she yearns to stretch her vocal legs, so to speak, and, as a teen, it’s at least conceivable that from time to time she may put enough pressure on her mother and handlers that they occasionally give in when they shouldn’t. That’s what I worry about, but I pray that I my fears are unfounded..

          • cabbagejuice

            Following your dream is by now a cultural sacred cow, so if the girl wants to sing Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise (on the new recording) – “just go for it, honey”. The very idea is preposterous given the evidence of the ongoing vocal struggles of the past few LIVE performance in much easier repertoire.
            But I don’t think it is just the little singer who is pushing these ideas. There is an image and marketing dilemma now. What do you do with a cute kid who was imitating adults down to the murky timbre which is not her true voice. She can’t exactly go the way of Janecova who has been properly trained all this time and reaping the benefits so as to sing the high and light rep her voice is suited for. The Evancho’s made it clear they didn’t like opera, so probably more in the direction of Brightmanish CC which is most of the time a caricature of opera and Emma Shaplin was.
            That fake lower timbre will have to go at some point. Anytime she descends the scale to about D above middle C, it has a sandpaper quality. This is even more evidence that she may be on the higher spectrum of soprano voices, perhaps a coloratura. Having her do such low maudlin songs all this time is even more ridiculous and potentially harmful.
            Her voice is NOT a rarity in the sense that in its natural state is high and light and surely not a gift to the world when so many others possess like qualities. What she does have because of early exposure before self-consciousness could set in, is an endearing and comfortable stage presence. But really the marketing problem is the thing now because her concert attendance has slackened off considerably and the new moppet sensations like Amira and Connie are getting far more hits on social media.

      • Alex Lim

        Wrong. Children are naturally gifted with a high pitched voice. That is why boys choirs have beautiful angelic falsettos that sound like sopranos. Girls are no different. Amira and Jackie may eventually develop deeper voices after puberty that would lower their vocal range. They may even lose their operatic singing prowess entirely unless they continue to train. But one thing for sure, Amira has every talent that many wannabee opera singers do not have despite their training. There can only be one Maria Callas (whose happened to be like Amira when she auditioned at age 12 or 13). Same with Beverly Sills. And many people here are aggrieved to realize that a mere 9 year old learning from YouTube has made their 10-15 year conservatory voice training in operatic singing to shame. Nothing could be more pathetic than to hear a 30-year old aspiring operatic singer doused with cold water by a 9-year old. Amira has phrasing issues, but you only need to listen to her Ave Maria in the pre finals of HGT to learn that despite the crude start, the raw pristine vocal beauty is there with effortless high notes that would shame veteran opera singers trying hard to sound what Amira has accomplished with virtually no training. And it is precisely this raw quality that makes her singing so powerful with none of self-conscious contrivance of many wannabee operatic singers whose high notes are closer to a scream than anything.

  • Stig

    Interestingly we have – as far as I’m informed – only seen female versions of this phenomenon. I wonder if those that defend these girl’s way of singing would have the same reaction if a boy of same age as Amira appeared and sang with the sound of a full grown tenor or bass like for example Jussi Björling og Jerome Hines. Or if they would think that this is fake and a produced sound? Sit back and think a while if you would consider that healthy singing? If you have not been vocally trained you could also try the experiment by yourself and try to imitate the sound of an opera singer. I think you will soon find that your starting point is your speaking voice and from there on you begin to manipulate it by tightening your throat and introducing a lot of tensions in your pharynx and you may soon end up with a soar throat: You are abusing your voice! Although the sound you are able to produce may bear resemblance of an operatic sound it is a fact that the trained opera singer does the exact opposite. The trained singing voice is far from the speaking voice and it requires years of training to learn the coordination required to only involve those muscles that are required for singing and leave the rest in a relaxed state. Also the throat is not tight as an open and free voice requires large pharyngeal space. It is obvious that Amira and the other girls who sing opera repertoire love music and singing and the tradegy is that by applying such tensions in their throat and body they are building up bad habits that may take years to remove later. It may even be impossible and may prevent them from having a career in the world of singing. But how should they know better when all the grownups around them praise them for what they are doing. Just consider this: If an student came to a voice studio with such severe tensions the first thing the voice teacher would have to do was to start a long and tedious process to remove the tensions and free the voice again!

    • cabbagejuice

      It is harder for boys to imitate men before their vocal cords mutate. Girls don’t have that problem as they will sing in more or less the same range during childhood and adulthood. Already one can tell if a girl tends toward a soprano or mezzo.
      I just got finished listening to a 14 year old winner of Greece’s Got Talent from 2012. He sang “Mamma” just like an Italian in a baritone key with a rather strong voice.
      The problem is not whether these kids CAN do what they are doing, but if they SHOULD. The transition period for male and female voices should be negotiated very carefully. In contrast to women, one should not be too quick to type the voices as a tenor may revealed as a baritone or vice versa in the formative years.
      For ALL voices, if the high notes are not approached step by step developmentally, they will not be adequately supported which I fear with this young man. This is a ticket to premature and even permanent vocal failure. I don’t remember the name of one kid who blew the audience away with his operatic singing and whose voice was wrecked. If I find it, I will post it. I also feel that Aled Jones may have been overdoing it back then. His voice after the teen years showed signs of wear and tear even to this day.

      • Stig

        I know. I don’t expect to see a boy doing this. Still I recall from my own childhood that I could make a severe “Knödel” and darken my voice somewhat. The example was just for comparison to make people think that although it sounds the same to the untrained ear it may not be produced the same way…

      • Alex Lim

        High notes are not a problem for pre-puberty kids. They have a natural soprano voice which makes them readily “trainable” to sing operatic arias. Heard of the Vienna Boys Choir? But Amira is something else, just listen to her Ave Maria in the semis of HGT and note how she reached the second to the highest note in the “nobis pecatoribus” line and then went on to reach the highest in the “Nunc et in hora” line.

        • Stig Junge

          Alex, if your comment is a reply to my comment I’m afraid you misunderstood me. What I don’t expect is to see boys darken their voice so they sound like mature male singers. Of course pre-puberty sing high notes. They do it all over the world, and by doing that they use their natural voice and not a darkened voice that makes them sound like full-grown men. In contrast to Amira who darkens her voice artificially with tensions in her throat.

        • cabbagejuice

          Oh, Alex, you are so full of contradictions! First, so many children have naturally high placed voices (in your opinion) and then “Amira has every talent that many wannabee opera singers do not have despite their training.” Well, if it is so common why make a big deal over it?
          You and others may like the sound of a prepubescent voice and probably the looks as well but if it weren’t for snooty opera, where would they get their material?
          In Amira’s Ave Maria she is gulping for air all over the place. No one says she shouldn’t sing but do repertoire that is age appropriate and developmental.
          Beverly Sills was taken out of the public eye after her first splash, had a life as a normal kid and was training behind the scenes for those crucial few years. She emerged as Maria Callas did only when ready and the voice stabilized.

    • cabbagejuice

      Jackie showed in the video that she at the age of 8 was a very talented mimic of Emmy Rossum in Phantom of the Opera. Six years later however, she still has not escaped from that groove. She follows Rossum’s every last inflection in the new album Awakening and on the clips of her doing the same song on AGT and various TV promotional shows.
      I don’t blame her for this repetitious approach to singing. What can she do in place of a proper voice teacher, except stand in front of youtube videos 50 or more times until she can be an exact reproduction? Where would she get what is called interpretation, taking the song out of oneself, studying the text and working on the diction intensely, except if this were pre-packaged and all one had to do was copy them? Most of her repertoire has been lifted whole hog from Battle, Streisand, Church, Jones, Enya, and more. The new album that is supposed to in her own words, show her “development as an artist”, is tracing the same approach with some of the songs as in Think of Me, exact copies of others. This may not be apparent to the general public but it looks like they have tired of a melacholic approach to every blessed song. The latest Ave Maria to be aired on PBS has the same unprofessional breathing in the middle of words, unclean vowels, pressing on notes to the extent the line is distorted musically and the same visible vocal tics like craning her neck to the righ for high notes. It is really a pity that a good talent such as this has been misused in such a manner. The hardcore fans will make excuses for her as she reminds them of their own grandchildren. They love the cutsie act she puts on in front of them. Her natural quality is what has endeared them from the start but that has become over time unnatural and even forced. However, they will still make excuses for her even as concerts as cancelled due to lack of ticket sales. As I said, I don’t blame her, but a willingness on her handlers to extract the maximum from the present without regard for her future.

      • ben

        cabbagejuice, you must care a great deal for Miss Evancho… Blessings to you for your concern.

        As Jackie grows older, she will have more choices as to how she will navigate in this world and at some point we must honor her choices—whether we think them “good” or “bad”– just as we would hope others would respect and honor our own choices and decisions in this life.

        May your day be filled with contentment and joy!

        • cabbagejuice

          Ben, with all due respect, children and even adolescents cannot be trusted to make their uninformed decisions about life when they do not see the larger picture. Trust me, I know, as I was not properly protected at that age and somewhat older. If an infant wants to put his fingers in an electric socket, should parents allow it? But even worse happens later on. (I was horrified to read not only the exploits bragged about by a certain Lena Dunham to her little sister that would have received a whupping in the past. Now her book gets approval on Amazon reviews because “doing what you want” has become the 11th commandment, nullifying the other 10.)
          My experience has led me to believe that “following your dream” has become an irrational cultural construct that does not conform to reality. It is the product of Hollywood films such as “A Star is Born”. You don’t see the sweat behnd the scenes, only the names in lights and applause. Because this myth has settled so deeply into the US psyche, fans will go biserk if it is challenged.
          Sorry, a 14 year old cannot decide if she needs voice lessons or not when she is performing now much more difficult repertoire than before. This is completely batty. Even if she were confronted with the possibility of ruining her voice by singing now, she should not have that option as much as a stupid adolescent who thinks he or she can text and drive at the same time without consequences. The inconvenience of laws or informed advice prevent people from ruining their lives.
          It seems that Jackie has become complacent that all she needs to do is open her mouth, act sweet and will be enough. There’s nothing of the discipline of singing in her performances. She doesn’t want to learn musical notation. It has been a ride of too much too soon and it looks like it is slowing down to a stop.
          cabbagejuice recently posted…Eucharistic SymphonyMy Profile

          • ben

            Thank you, cabbagejuice for your reply.

            Despite your concerns, Miss Evancho can always do something else for a living. :)

            She has the option of changing her career, regardless of the proper, or improper, care of her voice.

            We cannot change others, and we cannot make decisions for them—nor should we.
            We can only change ourselves for the better, and it is my hope that we can do this in humility.

        • cabbagejuice

          Ben, maybe you misunderstand me, I am not personally concerned for Ms. Evancho. I have to place enough distance between myself and my own students, not imagining that I could run their lives even with the best of intentions or advice.
          Come to think of it, I have the same dilemmas with my own kids. Some people say that I should let them make their own mistakes. But this doesn’t mean to stand by and let them self-destruct. It means to take a strong, unequivocal stand about principles.
          Culture is supposed to be the distilled wisdom of ages that elders are duty bound to pass down. Hopefully with good parents and teachers, children and pupils do not have to discover the wheel or America over again. Putting myself in the place of young kids encouraged to drive the car without much experience at the wheel, I would have appreciated a road map instead of being allowed to get lost in the thickets. Similarly, I do sing well for my age even after some bad training. If my parents or teachers had been so neglectful as to stand by and let me ruin my voice while “following my dream”, I would have not thanked them at all. This is a huge responsibility, not one to say, “oh well, you can choose a different career”. I know how much the act of singing means to me and can imagine that others that have the urge to make music feel the same way.
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          • ben

            Your comment is duly noted, cabbagejuice. But let it not be said that any human being cannot find real happiness without an ability to sing, or, the talent to do something other than that.

            Any skill can be taken from us for any reason, at any moment.

            Lasting happiness cannot be had by the mastery of merely outer things, but by the mastery of interior things….

            May we find peace with ourselves and others, through this wisdom.

  • Ron

    I know nothing of music, but I enjoy it. I know almost nothing about how Miss Evancho and her career and singing are being managed, but I enjoy her performances. As a teacher, I agree with cabbagejuice almost totally. The main purpose of teaching is imparting the knowledge that can help the next generation not make the same mistakes that preceding generations made. If we believed that youngsters should just be allowed to “find their own way and “learn from their mistakes,” we might just as well release them from school after they’ve mastered the three R’s. Her comment that “the inconvenience of laws or informed advice prevent people from ruining their lives” is a pithy one, indeed. Progressives would have you believe otherwise. Progressives are usually wrong, in no small part because they like to ignore lessons taught, regard those lessons as “stodgy,” and repeat past mistakes. So my statement of accord phased into a small rant and turned political, but cabbagejuices’s comments might lend themselves to that fray as well as this one. Let me offer my apologies in advance if this last observation is offensive to him or her. No offense is intended, just respectful agreement.

    • ben

      Glad to know that you enjoy Miss Evancho’s performances, Ron!

      There is a reason for your enjoyment and it may be due to her “lack” of training….

      No one is declaring that training and tradition are “bad” or always unnecessary things. Rather, the discord here, and elsewhere, lies in the presumption that everyone should do as we do lest tragedy strikes. The only real tragedy may be in the inability or unwillingness to respect the decisions and lives of others, even though they appear to be misguided to us.

      To judge others and their actions invites arguments and equal or harsher judgments by others.

      Is this what we really desire in life?

      If the Evancho family wants advice, they will ask for it. 😉

      • cabbagejuice

        While it is true that the inner life affects the outer, as living beings we still have to process experience. For some it might be writing, dancing, art, cooking, etc., but for a musician it is the act of making music. This is not a weekend hobby or “skill” but a psychological outlet, a way of centering oneself. If I couldn’t sing or play piano, probably the energy would find a way of expressing itself and by now I would be mature enough to recognize and rechannel it.
        However, I have witnessed the effects of artistic frustration, not having a creative outlet and instead what would have been positive energy was turned back onto itself and became poisonous, not only for those persons but spread to everyone else around them.
        But this is not the end of the story. There’s even worse by the actions of those who would exploit the creative impulse. Greedy stage mothers are big offenders. They only see the glory, applause and money. Those who are not artistic, or whose creative impulses were dammed up at some point are the worse offenders. I went through this myself with my parents thinking that I wanted to play piano for glory (that would be reflected on them) and not for the act of doing it.
        This bad and distorted thinking comes mainly from the glitterati machines of Hollywood. The ‘star is born’, raw talent stunning everyone, astounding the academics, putting them to rout is a MYTH. Sorry, even good or excellent mimickry requires some model to copy. The guilelessness of childhood is endearing, that natural spark to be devoutly preserved. Good training will not smother but build upon it.
        I’m sorry but the laws of physiology haven’t been suspended to the effect that “presumption that everyone should do as we do lest tragedy strikes”. It is NOT a presumption but accumulated wisdom over 4 centuries at least on how to develop and preserve the human voice.
        To pretend otherwise fits exactly the definition of progressive, thinking it is OK to bypass tradition because of feeling. For a mature artist, feeling is valid and necessary to start with but only raw material. A singer cannot get by with just emoting. There has to be some structure. Talented kids and their ignorant families might not appreciate it, but that doesn’t change reality.
        cabbagejuice recently posted…Eucharistic SymphonyMy Profile

        • ben

          cabbagejuice, your words and experience are respected by me, and, I am certain, many others.

          Of course vocal training is good and desirable. But it is still a choice—a choice to be made by the those who embark upon a singing career. Are we in a position to decide for others?

          I do not question your personal experience and obvious knowledge about these things, and, I hope that you can forgive those who have apparently harmed you in some way.

          May this day bring a new beginning for you. I wish you much happiness!

          • cabbagejuice

            Thank you Ben for your words of good will. As the Buddha said, “Let all beings be happy”.
            Barring that however, I do have experience with those who think they have a right to tell me that I should forgive when they know nothing about my life. A decision to forgive or not is really no one’s business but that person’s, to paraphrase what you were you saying about meddling in the choices of others. Quite frankly, this is ONE thing that does get on my nerves.
            To expand upon my example of texting while driving, a person might get away with not causing an accident but the chances are heightened. Similarly, those who think they don’t need properly managed breath support for high notes are also misinformed as to the clear and present danger. But how can a non-professional make an informed choice? The best option is to consult experts, right?
            cabbagejuice recently posted…Eucharistic SymphonyMy Profile

          • ben

            Yes, cabbagejuice, it is best to consult the experts—especially when it applies to forgiveness. :)

          • cabbagejuice

            I had a little more time to think about this and really, you are violating your own rules about live and let live. There is more than a possible linguistic trap here for if I say, “it is my business if I want to forgive”, then the comeback would be “well, why are you deciding for Jackie?”
            First of all we are not talking about me, but I don’t need to ask an expert when to eat or sleep, the same with my interpersonal relationships and what I need or want to do with them. I have found that those who do preach forgiveness do not always have pure motives. It can be used as a self-righteous hammer (“look at me, I forgive and you don’t!”) and even worse, to excuse the sociopathic behavior of others and in doing so enable it by shifting the attention to the unforgiving person who must be as bad or even worse. Writing a blank check for the personality disordered doesn’t help them either even if one wants to excuse habitual abuse rather than confronting them about it. The messenger of bad news is attacked instead as there is a subtle conspiracy between enablers and sociopaths. So please stuff your sermons about forgiveness.
            cabbagejuice recently posted…Eucharistic SymphonyMy Profile

  • Garrett Menard

    So method acting, totally immersing one’s self into the character, is the only true way to act; must be applied to opera ?

    • cabbagejuice

      In most opera, acting should not be at the expense of the music. In other words, the drama is embedded in what the composer wrote. This is the meaning of musical interpretation. In recent times, some singers have tried to emphasize acting over singing and even lost their voices prematurely.

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