Who slew Angel Jackie?

January 6, 2017 by norman lebrecht


When we first reported the rise of child star Jackie Evancho, we were besieged by hundreds of commenters proclaiming that hers was a divine voice, a gift of God, transcending mortal criticism.

Those voices have gone notably silent since Jackie signed on to sing at the inauguration of President Trump.

We miss them.

Perhaps she does, too.

Who will speak up for the Angel?

Comments (25)

  1. Robin Bermanseder says:

    What a leading and slightly perilous question, Norman!

    Here are my comments off the cuff – a more considered response would take some time.

    1. Jackie’s fan community is alive and well, and continues to evolve. Fan clubs are stratified over Facebook, on-line Forums, and custom blogs, and range from the almost worshipful to the derogatory.

    2. Comments relating to ‘angelic’ properties still occur, mainly by newcomers who have recently discovered her. That response appears to be a natural reaction to her voice (particularly from ages 10 to 12). Her long-time fans are more interested in her evolving voice, how she overcomes difficulties, and how her song writing skills are coming along.

    3. That Opera thing.. Most fans facepalm at that description, just as folk here do. We all know that Jackie is not an Opera singer, but the popular media gets stuck on such things. Even Jackie appears to have given up correcting them.

    4. The patriarchs of Jackie’s fan community remember SD well, including the skirmishes.
    SD is no longer on the recommended reading list for new fans. Why invite bother?
    I hope that can change, with maturing attitudes on both sides. There are interesting points of philosophy, musicology, differences in taste and critical opinion that could (maybe should) be discussed here.

    Should I go on?

    1. Vienna calling says:

      There is a “recommended reading list for new fans”?

  2. C. Squarcialupi says:

    The decline in her popularity can be shown in her concert fees. After America’s Got Talent, she was getting $150K and more for a concert. Today she averages $40K per concert. Still big money compared to many, but a long way from a few years ago. Hope she saved her money.

    1. Tom says:

      For a good amount of time, she doesn’t get a meaningful portion of those fees.

    2. Alexander says:

      $40,000 is £32,605, which is probably between three and six times what a singer will be paid per performance at one of the world’s finest opera houses, and reportedly around ten times what a singer will be paid per performance at ENO or Glyndebourne. Not a singer, but worth mentioning that it was reported a few years ago that Anne-Sophie Mutter was offering London orchestras a significant discount on her usual fee when she gave three concerts for a total of £30,000. As is reported in the case of Jackie Evancho, those artists will also lose a significant proportion of that fee to their agent and in expenses. The only classical artists who will be earning more than Jackie Evancho would be people of the calibre/celebrity of artists such as Gustavo Dudamel (a reliable source tells me that he earns €50,000 per concert) or Yo-Yo Ma (who allegedly charges close to $100,000 per concert, but I’m not sure whether anybody knows that for certain). I imagine that she is earning at least as much as (and possibly twice as much as) artists such as Karita Mattila, Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, or Deborah Voigt.

      1. Alexander says:

        PS. I do understand that Jackie Evancho is getting fees for concerts rather than opera roles, and that concerts do tend to pay more. Is it true that Angela Gheorghiu gets €200,000 for a single concert? That sounds unbelievable. However, I do appreciate that Jackie Evancho’s fees may be roughly the same as concert fees for some top opera singers. Of course, the difference is that Jackie Evancho has a career based solely on concert performances, whereas an opera singer has to earn most of his or her income from operas in order to achieve the experience and status necessary to give concerts for higher fees. For a 16-year-old to be earning $40,000 for one performance is absolutely extraordinary. The artists I have mentioned (e.g. Karita Mattila, Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, Deborah Voigt, Angela Gheorghiu, and I could add Cecilia Bartoli) are the most talented in the world and have had to work for decades (initially for barely enough money to live on) to reach their current position.

        1. Una says:

          And then Voigt et al have to put away or invest some of that money when they stop singing at 55+ for their living or when they have a problem like Jonas Kauffman, unable to sing and keeping his family too. As for Evancho, well what can I say without upsetting the fans! But perhaps she’ll be like Welsh Charlotte Church here. She’ll have made her money, and then burn herself out by the time she’s 18 or 20 max, or in a supermarket trolley drunk outside her mother’s door on her 21st … All pretty grim whichever way you look at the outcome.

          1. Frederick West says:

            This all sounds rather snobbish. The Welsh girl doesn’t seem to have crashed and burned after all, still making a very tidy income even now. And I presume that the ‘proper’ singers must have some sort of financial management, maybe even insurance, against unforeseen circumstances. I’m sure that Charlotte Church isn’t unique in being a 21 year old who has been trolleyed. Try any city or town centre on a Saturday night.

      2. Saxon Broken says:

        Er…you have grossly over-estimated the fees. If Gheorghiu charged £200,000 for a concert then each ticket would have to cost £1,000 each to cover her fee — so not true. She may suggest £200,000 if you are an oligarch and want her to sing at your birthday party, or fly to China for a concert, but this isn’t an actual fee that would be paid for regular concert in Europe.

        Similarly, Dudamel doesn’t ordinary charge $50,000 for a concert. This might be the price for something like the Viennese New Year concert, but that comes with record sales and is broadcast on television across much of the world. But is not the price he charges when he conducts the Berlin Phil (he might get something close if he conducts three or more). The pot of money that is generated by ticket sales (and government subsidy) just isn’t big enough to pay that kind of fee for each concert.

  3. Robin Bermanseder says:

    And there it is.
    No point continuing.

  4. P. Lazar says:

    sale of albums of classical music in particular and album sales all genera have declined abruptly over JME’s career, and she has been caught in that. That also affects concert tickets. A few pop stars actually account for most album sales. For what it’s worth, JME has been the top sellling classical soprano and no less than the #7 classical performer in sales per billboard over all for 5 consecutive years.

  5. Vivian Bee says:

    I never want to hear about her again! As far as I’m concerned her career can flush itself right down the Trump toilet. She just became a nobody to me!

    1. Una says:

      Maybe not in those words but well said … it’s all manufactured to a fault at such a young age.

    2. Tony Perry says:

      And I’m sure Jackie will miss you terribly. She’s probably sobbing into her pillow right now.

  6. Steve P says:

    You people are poisonous. Karma is going to be painful reckoning.

    1. Alexander says:

      Who is actually saying anything poisonous?

      1. Steve P says:

        Schadenfreude seems to be a common thread amongst folks here regarding anything that appears to be in line with liberal desires. This glee is a primary reason why libs and their establishment cronies continue to underestimate the ill will being sown with each cheer over the perceived misfortune of others, especially when it supports the party line.

        1. Alexander says:

          I honestly don’t see the Schadenfreude here. “You people” suggests readers/commenters, not just Norman Lebrecht himself.

  7. Stephen Runnels says:

    “Who slew Angel Jackie?” haha, Norman. Two things: First, you seem to have decided that the subject of Jackie Evancho had run its course on your blog, even though we are still proclaiming that hers was a divine voice, a gift of God, transcending mortal criticism. Second, those who disparage Jackie are mostly Republicans and conservatives who are still incensed over their Party, and voters that made the orange one President, not Jackie fans. Jackie fans, true Jackie supporters, both Liberal and conservative, would never ever lecture, chastise, threaten, blackmail, or coerce Jackie Evancho. We love and respect her as a singer, and as an artist who has decided to sing the National Anthem for her country, and for the estimated billion people worldwide tuning in for the inauguration. There are, unfortunately, some who think Jackie will be singing for Trump. Whatever. For apolitical Jackie, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that has nothing to do with Trump.

    We are not silent, Norman. We are elsewhere. We are where people show Jackie the respect she deserves. Miss us? You know what to do.

    1. Robin Bermanseder says:

      Excellent post!

    2. Jaybuyer says:

      Ah, now I understand what is meant by ‘the special relationship’

  8. R. Hamilton says:

    As to the politics, there may exist those who were reasonable people notwithstanding having voted for either candidate; and there were more than a few that held their noses whichever they voted for (both were clearly flawed). Given all the artists that are so eager to be political, it’s refreshing for there to be at least a few that aren’t, esp. among those who have appeared at various more or less civic events or contexts on a number of prior occasions (national anthem for professional league sports games, national holiday PBS specials, National Christmas Tree lighting, National Prayer Breakfast, both of the latter having the present occupant – of the opposite party as the incoming – present).

    As to “angel”, hopefully there were few indeed that took it literally. And perhaps the rest of Jackie’s fans (which indeed still exist, if elsewhere than here) that used the term, have (if with varying reluctance) come to appreciate it that it does a teenager no good to be characterized in such a manner; if their behavior was set early, it will continue, and if not, they’d be more inclined to rebel given such a label.

    And as to commenting here, this is the residence of some who view themselves as staunch defenders of the orthodoxy of the classical. Jackie is NOT a classical singer, regardless of a portion of her repertoire. Some of her fans who, commenting here, rush immoderately to her defense, may perhaps have realized they do her no service by overreacting here, and either left for less prescriptive/proscriptive discussion elsewhere, or limited their patronage of this site to topics better suited to the resident expertise.

    1. Tony Perry says:

      Jackie’s response to those overzealous fans who have put her on a pedestal for the past 7 years is made very clear in her new song, “Pedestal” on her new album, “Two Hearts.”

  9. Carlos Martinez says:

    What the hell is your obsession with Jackie Evancho? Is it simply to drive hits to this place? As you have pointed out she is the most commented person in this website. She is not an opera singer we get that. We also get that you do not like her. Whatever, why don’t you focus your efforts on promoting those singers that in your opinion deserve it and stop trying to ridicule a young singer which is still learning and making her way in the music business.

  10. Stephen Atkinson says:

    Yep, dead like a door nail. Two more number 1 albums in 6 months, and a pretty nice gig at the Cafe Carlyle. You should read her reviews. Then go back and read the stuff from 6 years ago about how her voice would blow out any time now.

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