Nine year-old Talent winner records 11 opera arias for rapid release

Amira Willighagen, phenomenal winner of Holland’s Got Talent, has got a record deal. She announced it on breakfast radio.

The broadcast includes an unauthorised Nessun Dorma dub-over duet with Luciano Pavarotti. Listen here.

And O Mio Babbino Caro, of course.

The album was recorded in England on Simon Cowell’s Syco label for Sony Music Entertainment. It will be out March 28 and is called “Amira”. The child star will tour South Africa in a fortnight and play Las Vegas in May.

 

UPDATE: Strong reaction from the Pavarotti estate.

)amira willighagen

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    • from joy, hearing this pure raw diamond sing. At age 9 Amira Willighagen is endowed with more talent in her little finger than all the balking “experts” on this blog put together. Furthermore in a free society nobody can tell you what to do or how to do it, therefore Amira’s interpretations are hers and neither right or wrong. The only thing you could offer as a response is whether YOU like it or not, whether it moved YOU or not.

        • Well, actually music comes with rules that make performances relatively good or bad. Its not all subjective. Amira is a genetic anomoly and if handled properly, one would expect that with adolescence will come more power and richness. We are quite likely seeing the emergence of the greatest operatic talent of her generation. She will likely define the norms for the next several decades.

    • amria heard music from the womb, her family are musical her grandfather was a pro; opera singer its in her blood its in her soul she is a spirit of classical sound

  • Pity, they will ruin her voice, just to make money. This is no repertoire for her age, and she is squeezing her voice to immitate grown up singers. What a shame, maybe she has a talent that could materialize in an interesting singer? Unfortunately we will never know, her voice will be ruined before she is 13.

    • My son, an operatic singer himself agrees with you. I do not. I do not believe that she is straining her voice at all to create this ‘adult’ tonal quality. She is just a genetic freak. Look at how they ‘took advantage’ of Michael Jackson and how it ruined his voice. Yes, excessive practice and performing in immature voices CAN cause problems. But they are not a permanent ruin. Rest the voice and it gets better.

      But again, this girl is singing as she sings. She did not have someone lay this voice on her. She learned it herself listening to opera on youtube. Like Michael Jackson, the rules for the rest of us don’t apply to her. She isn’t the rest of us.

    • I read recently that Maria Callas began her singing career at 12. I wonder if the experts said she would not make it as an opera singer. It’s sad that we don’t just enjoy the beauty of Amira’s voice instead of being so critical…

    • Ok….just read most of the comments…..and its now 2017 and Amira is 13. For all those feeling she would be burned out by the time she turns 13 still agree with that assessment? To me, her voice is beautiful, and it moves me to tears. I am not a music professional….just a fan who appreciates Amira and the beautiful music that she generates.

      • I lost my wife in the first year of her retirement. She was a music major and music was important in our life. In search of things to fill the empty hours, I found Amira.
        Amira has given me hours of pleasure. Her voice and the reactions of others to it have caused me to always have the tissue box handy before I start one of her performances.
        I hope Amira is that one who will set the standard for future voices to be measured against. For now, thank you Amira.

    • Well, now – watch her performance of Amazing Grace, at 13 . . . . for somebody who was going to have lost her voice by then, she seems to be doing pretty well . . .

  • More than pity!! It is a disgrace! Where is the breath support? Broken phrases all over the place and an unwritten high last note. Dreadful.

  • Now I agree with you! She’s a Jackie Evancho – want – to-be! Even I don’t think she has the ability to draw the admiration all over the world as Jackie has. You can see on her face she is struggling to sing like Jackie.

    • Wait! Who would “want-to-be”Jackie Evancho???? It’s all the same, senseless crap, that has NOTHING whatsoever to do with operatic singing. Absolutely shameful!

  • At this rapid rate of artistic and commercial development, she could tackle Berg’s “Lulu” in year or two and also be the right age for Salome. Brava!

  • Imitating the sound of a mature, professionally trained voice is not the same as having such a voice. There is no way that a nine-year old should be tackling operatic arias. Young voices need real care and time to develop properly. As others have said, her voice will be ruined by the time she reaches adolescence.

    • Well 4 years further in time her voice is so much more matured, she has an adult voice but that is her natural voice. Go YT and listen.

    • She is now 15 and her voice is only improving. She should not be considered an ‘opera singer’, she is singing opera arias beautifully.

  • Her parents should be arrested and prosecuted for Child Endangerment; She should be put in some sort of protective program and foster home.

    • Yep, she is already finished. Singing ruins your voice, everybody knows that.

      Those precocious singers should wait until they are 30 or 40 before they even think of singing grown-up tunes.

      Her parents should be arrested.

      And she should be forbidden to ever sing.

      The great voice managers have spoken

      • I was stunned reading thru unkind and downright cruel comments directed towards a child. For shame. These stuck up, self important elitist snobs are going to have great difficulty getting into heaven. St Peter doesn’t like child abusers. Amira, sweetheart, God forbid you should stumble upon this trash. but if you do, consider the source, trashy people. You have been given a gift from God. I love your voice and the way it makes me feel.

        • I am not sure if Holymusic perceived the strong sarcasm in my comment to Lloyd L. Thoms Jr.’s outrageous suggestions.

          Not only did I echo his absurd remarks, but I even exaggerated them to the point of insanity.

          Like in “Singing ruins your voice, everybody knows that”, as nothing could be more insane than this tongue-in-cheek statement.

          Everything else was in the same ironical fashion: “And she should be forbidden to ever sing”.

          If Holymusic swallowed all this without blinking, he has to polish his piety, stuff it in his back pocket, and reconnect with the world of humor.

          • @richard I don’t think children should be trotted out in public, at risk to their overall development, even if it makes money for their family, to gratify the “feelings” of others.

          • CJ,

            Could I mention an object lesson in the life — now past — of a very happy celebrity name of Mickey Rooney — a study in positivity and always a glow of happiness plowing through eight marriages with funds sufficient to settle each peacefully who proved the benefits not only of working with no thought of retirement but of starting astoundingly young at the unarguably tender age of eighteen months … would you mind my citing him in debating your stand of “wait till later” for the ultimate benefit of the victimized child ??

            And YES — a singer in addition to other talents … and NO — those marriages shouldn’t be held against him since the manner he managed them was perfectly legal and pleasant for all concerned (he described them as “practice attempts”) until finally deciding in his eighties being single might actually be OK with enough “practice” to prove it.

          • AND may his peaceful rest equate to the wonderful example he set for us all while living.

          • @richard I don’t take as an example for life anyone that I don’t know personally. There is so much we don’t know about movie stars and what is publicized to make them look good might not have anything to do with the reality of their characters or everyday lives, i.e., Joan Crawford.

            It seems that Judy Garland was the real love of Rooney’s life. If anyone was exploited as a kid, it was her. Her inability to get over drugs can be thanked to the heartless industry she was caught up in.

          • CJ,

            You have only to read your comment for an obvious revelation of severe logic-tilting … how exactly if you cannot take for an example of good someone whom you don’t know can you correspondingly take for a bad example someone you equally don’t know — are you saying you can only believe reported bad but not the good coming through all media?

        • @ LLOYD L

          Why wouldn’t the best answer be to place her in grammar school and insist she join either the soccer or field hockey team and get her front teeth bashed in the usual manner and be unworthy of large audiences due to her appearance — the least expensive and most normal solution for the awful problem of singing and receiving praise — NOTHING MORE AWFUL … getting disfigured in sports would be so delightful for her!

  • This is a travesty. Jackie Evancho is ALSO a travesty. These children – CHILDREN – sing about something of which they have no knowledge. That’s bad enough, but not their fault. Someone thinks it’s cute. Someone else doesn’t see a CHILD, rather $$$$$ – never mind the psychological damage or the physical damage. Never mind this CHILD will be burnt out before her time and her childhood lost to over zealous and justifiably proud parents who allow their common sense to be toyed with by a fawning talent agent who knows just what to say. It’s wrong – and there is no one, regardless of position or influence, who can make it right or justify it – not to me or the world.

      • As evertyone’s said, this is dreadful on every level. I’m ashamed, as an ex pat, that she’s going to be touring/exploited in South Africa.

    • re: “sing about something of which they have no knowledge”

      I see. So here’s your casting call for Sweeney Todd:

      “Those who are not serial killers need not apply.”

      for the Ring cycle:

      “Must be on first name basis with most Norse gods”

      for I Pagliacci:

      “Must be both murderer AND have track record with itinerant Commedia del Arte troupe in 19th century Sicily

      for Nessun Dorma:

      “Must be Persian prince from 16th century AND have have a thing for psychotic serial killers”

      “Must be 16th century Chinese princess who has had at least three (3) young men murdered at your behest.”

      for Don Giovanni

      “must have seduced and abandoned 1,000 women”

      “must have died and become a big singing statue that can drag people to hell”

      I look forward to you launching a boycott of all singing performances by anyone who hasn’t personally done what they’re singing about.

      Of course all this begs the issue of why any singer has to understand anything about anything they sing about. As someone sitting in the audience, what I do care what’s going on in the singer’s head? They could be mentally totting up their next grocery shopping list for all I care.

      I care what I feel when they sing, not what they feel. And that is a completely independent variable. Unless, of course, you’re a telepath. I happen not to be.

      re: “Never mind the psychological damage”

      And your expertise in child development, apart from reading the Daily Mail, is what?

      And your personal knowledge of the lives of the two children in question, apart from seeing a three minute YouTube clip of them performing in public, is what?

      Or are all children alike? Is that it? Every single 10 year old on Earth has exactly the same needs and capabilities, and every single one that performs professionaly is psychologically damaged by the experience? And every single parent of such a child is exploiting their child for the money? And every single child who perfoms burns out?

      Have you read the biographies of adults who started performing as children? Every single one of them is now human wreckage with no voice left?

      This kind of moral posturing–based on simplistic stereotyping and ignorant assumptions–has zero moral force.

      There are many, many exploited chidren on Earth. Making bricks in Pakistan on 10 hour days, seven days a week. Or sold by their destitute familes into marriage at age 12 with a 50 year old in Afghanistan or rural India or elsewhere. Even if Jackie and Amira were being exploited, it’s nothing compared to what many millions of children are experiencing around the world. Even n the UK and America there are children being trafficked for unspeakable usage at the hands of moral zeroes.

      And there are also many millions of children who aren’t being exploited, but are simply being neglected. Latchkey kids longing for a real life. Brilliant kids born into lower-class familaies whose educational potential will never be realized.

      But you say and do nothing–I’ll wager–about all the world’s chidren about whose misery and awful lives there is no disputing. Instead you defend the rights of children who would tell you to buzz off if you tried to sail in and “rescue” them.

      I know nothing about Amira, except I don’t enjoy listening to her sing, and to my laymen’s ears it sounds like she’s hurting her voice. But worst case she’s only doing what all those kids singing Annie are doing. I do know something about Jackie Evancho, having followed her career since she was 10 (she’ll be 14 in a month). People like you have been harrumphing about her and predicing her imminent vocal destruction and mental breakdown any day now for the last four years.

      Yet both she and her voice are doing fine.

      Next year, right? Or if she’s fine then, the year after that…right?

      At which point when she’s still doing fine–voice and mind–will you be reexaming your stereotypes and presumptions, and publicly apologize to her parents for your baseless attacks on their integrity?

      • Thanks for taking the time to write a good and right reaction to very superficial (most of the times) comments. Its always wise to really think through your thoughts before you get stuck in a one-way-perspective.

      • You do know the difference between “having knowledge of” and “done” don’t you? I have knowledge of Norse gods – I am not on first name terms wit them. I know something about the lifestyles of Commedia dell’Arte troupes, although I have never been in one. I know that Calaf (who sings Nessun Dorma) is a Tartar prince, not Persian (the Prince of Persia has already lost his head long before this point in the opera). I also know that the Chinese Princess (the Turandot of the opera title) does NOT sing Nessun Dorma, and there is no reason why this duet should ever have made it to public ears!

        Regarding the teaching of young children – it probably doesn’t surprise you to find that some of us have experience in teaching voice to children. Potentially, what she is doing is very, very harmful. The fact that occasionally a singer comes along whose voice does not appear to be harmed by this type of abuse doesn’t mean that, on the balance of probabilities, it isn’t very harmful. I know a 90 year old smoker, but I’m not going to say that smoking isn’t harmful based on this one outlier.

      • Once again Ehkzu, your’s is the voice of calm and reasoning. Once again the indignation of some people rise to the occasion of another child singer singing beyond her years. In regard to Amira,I too feel that she may be harming her voice when I hear her sing, but her singing has improved since that show. Perhaps the tutelage of Opera singer André Rieu is responsible as well as the girl’s own talent developing. However the strain I hear in her voice to reach the high notes still make me wince and I just can’t listen to her for long. That is something I have never heard when I listen to Jackie sing.

        These 2 children have chosen different paths so far in their music. Amira has chosen an opera path and Jackie C/C of course. The doom and gloom predicted for Jackie after she made her debut (by many of the same people today) seems comical now. Her voice has grown richer,fuller and even more beautiful with each passing year. Just recently I listened to her singing the jazz classic “La Vie En Rose” with Jumaane Smith and once again she blew me away. It seems today she is trying to shed her “child” status to that of a young lady though that transition is something that people like the one’s on this board just do not want to see happen. It’s like they have a vested interest in her failure. I, however, only see a future of stardom. Her talent can’t be denied forever.

        I was hoping that now,since Amira has made the scene,that some of the seething heat Jackie has endured during her short but prodigious career would abate but alas, I was wrong. Now little Amira will have to endure the same and perhaps even more so given the path she seems to have chosen. I know nothing of her support team. I only hope it is at least as proficient as Jackie’s has been.

        • “The tutelage of Opera singer André Rieu”? Mr. Rieu is a classical-crossover violinist and conductor, not an opera singer.

          Also, “opera” is a common noun, not a proper one, unless you’re referring to an organization (“Cuts were made before opening night because the Opéra demanded it”).

      • Ehzku, Colin Reed’s response somewhat anticipates mine. I don’t expect singers to have done all the specific activities the characters have done. I expect them to approach the characters with the psychological perception that comes from living life and being an adult, being prepared to come to grips with the themes of the piece.

        So, for example, no, I don’t expect a casting call for Pagliacci (there are not “casting calls” for leading roles in opera at any rate) to advertise for a real murderer who has been in a commedia dell’arte troupe. I do expect an adult who understands jealousy, insecurity, machismo, and a sense of responsibility to one’s calling, and can ultimately combine rage and grief. So, no, I do not want to hear it from a 13-year-old boy, even a very talented 13-year-old boy.

        I have read and taken issue with your characterization of Turandot before, and I still feel that using modern clinical words like “serial killer” and “psychopathic” here, and questioning how crazy the hero must be to pursue a psychopathic serial killer, is a bit tone-deaf to the fairy-tale ethos from which that libretto springs.

        In any case, this discussion is getting off track, because these girls, Jackie and Amira, are not performing opera roles. They are performing arias out of context, and a great deal of their audience is happy just with a pretty sound from a cute girl. They understand even less of what is being sung than the girls do.

        • Yes Addison,

          I doubt today, anyone listening to Jackie singing at age 13 (almost 14) thinks that her singing is just a pretty sound from a cute girl.

          By the way, do you know where Victoria is? Have not heard from her since her You Tube video singing opera 🙂

      • Thanks for taking on the scoffers, spoilers and over-outraged! My 7 yr old granddaughter loved “the song” and Amira.

      • “Have you read the biographies of adults who started performing as children? Every single one of them is now human wreckage with no voice left?”

        Examples:

        Pavarotti, age 9

        Maria Callas, age 9

        Beverly Sills, age 8

        Elina Garance, age 10

        Alexandrina Pendatchanska, age 7

        etc..

        Most of the successful great singers have started singing before age 10

        • To repeat for the informationally challenged: Sills, Mirella Freni, Julie Andrews and other early beginners were taken out of circulation until they were finished products. They had consequently long careers as opposed to Charlotte Church and others who were burned out too soon.

          In New York, Maria Callas did appear in a talent show at the age of 11 but under a different name because her traditional Greek father did not approve. She subsequently went to Athens with her mother and as luck would have had it, to study only 13 years old with one of the best exponents of Bel Canto, Elvira de Hidalgo, during the Second World War. She did some minor roles but finally debuted as Tosca, impressive vocally but still had much to learn from some of the best Italian masters, namely Tullio Serafin who actually coached Rosa Ponselle in New York.

          So you see, an artist doesn’t spring from the head of Jove but as Newton said: “I can see farther because i stand on the shoulders of giants”.

          Today little Dutch singers can bypass all that and internalize youtube videos instead. Who knows, maybe this will turn out to be a revolution in voice training?

        • Another example, mentioned by herself: Kiri Te Kanawa, as a child of unspecified age,but definitely under 7 or 8.

          Also, cabbagejuice is confused.

          He is equalling the “finished product” of a mature singer, like his example of Callas and others with a public audition for a children’s contest like the HGT.

          First of all, Kiri Te Kanawa explains that a soprano singer is never a “finished product.” A “great soprano” continues to learn throughout her life.

          Second, all those charming performances of Amira Willighagen are NOT the DEBUT of a new “great soprano”, but part of her introduction to the world of singing.

          All the great singers continued to sing all through their teenage years, in preparation of a professional entry in the major opera houses.

          Singing in HGT and other future social appearances are nothing more than steps in the necessary learning experience of their teenage years.

          The fact that such events re televised and broadcast on YouTube changes nothing. This is in no way a debut in the professional soprano world, but part of teenage learning and improving experience.

          That such young singers use the new technological tools now available is part of living with their time. Exactly like opera singers stopped traveling in luxury ocean liners to use the new transatlantic jets.

          “cabbagejuice” does not get it, he produces fallacious comparisons and draws fallacious conclusions that have some appeal only if you drink a lot of fermented juices of cabbage mixed with juices of grapes.

          • Wow, Roo you sound like an expert, please let us see your credentials: “All the great singers continued to sing all through their teenage years, in preparation of a professional entry in the major opera houses.”

            Please name those singers, because the rest of us are in the dark.

            The small ingenue roles in Mozart’s operas were given not to undeveloped voices but those on the threshold of a career.

            If it is “part of teenage learning and improving experience (nothing more than steps in the necessary learning experience of their teenage years)”, this can be done in the local elementary or middle school end of the year concert. No need to play in Vegas or make CD’s as of yet.

            What don’t I get? That healthful vegetable juices are not the result of “new technological tools now available… part of living with their time”?

          • You have named a catalogue of singers who fell in love with song at an early age. They did not have exploitative promoters forcing them to sing inappropriate repertoire through their transition.

            There are operatic exercises that are appropriate for young voices, then again there are plenty that are not.

            I suggest you read Jenevora Williams book on training young voices. Given her credentials, she actually know what she is talking about, and isn’t interested in name dropping to prove a point.

            Most singers I know fell in love with singing and song whilst children. It still does not make it right for them to be exposed to the modern media and modern publicity. Let young singers appear as more complete singers when they are older. A voice is for life an not simply whilst the singer is cute and young.

        • Another example: Edita Gruberova

          She started as child singing uncontrollably and irresistibly in her poor village.

          There were no YooTube, no CDs, nothing. She just sang because it was in her blood.

          It is the church organist who started using her in his services and convinced her that she should pursue a path of learning to become an opera singer.

          She went to the Conservatory of Bratislava because it was the best, or possible the only, economic way. She sang publicly, on radio, in performances, all through her teens — to great applause.

          In a way, the story of Amira is a bit the same, when it comes to motivation and early recognition of a phenomenal voice.

          An innate, driven, love of singing beautiful music, a strong sense of discipline and a strong will to achieve, and a charismatic personality that intrigues and enchants, are all musts to be noticed and encouraged.

          Of course, the scene has changed at the time of Amira, different tools, different opportunities, different economic resources, but the basic factors remain the same.

          • And yet, another example: Marilyn Horne

            She started practicing singing opera exercises at age 5, and yet did not destroy her voice and has had a long adult career. Her father didn’t oppose her in the least.

            Ordinary children singers become ordinary adult singers. Each opera house needs a lot of them for choirs and support roles on the stage (crowds, attendants, etc.). We don’t their names and we don’t know their stories.

          • And yet, another example: Joan Sutherland

            She started learning about opera singing as a child, taught by her mother, a former opera student who never pursued it as a career.

            Made quick progress in Sydney, developing a strong voice, supported by exceptional breath support. At 14, started singing recitals in public with a famous pianist.

            Her voice was considered strong, but without much expressive finesse. This she developed over the years until finally becoming consecrated as the most stupendous voice of the 20th century (Pavarotti dixit).

            This is my last example, because the stories begin to be repetitious.

          • Joan Sutherland aged 14 thought she was a mezzo. This is partially due to a sinus complaint, and partially as her voice had not settled.

            Not the best example to have chosen Boo, as the late great Dame Joan believed that singers under the age of 30 should not tackle Casta Diva – Norma.

            Dame Joan blossomed into the great coloratura soprano she was when she was far older.

            For those who want to listen to great singing (from Dame Joan) should watch this:

            http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eyoutube%2Ecom%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DQ5NEOh-XhyA&urlhash=627j&_t=tracking_disc

            Note Pavarotti is not exactly a “spring chicken” here. It is not only the singing that is wonderful but the manner in which the whole scene is acted. Not bad given the combined ages of Pavarotti and Sutherland was 120 at the time.

            What is your point Boo?

            I can get young singers, even child singers to perform lip trills, breathe from their core, and sing runs and roulades until the cows come home with no detriment to their vocal health. That’s a bit different from them dressing up like a Parisian Tart and murdering the Brindisi from La Traviata as you can see from my next clip:

            http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eyoutube%2Ecom%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DV3ochPOtbyM&urlhash=-ROK&_t=tracking_disc.

          • Roo- you cite Marilyn Horne as someone who started exercises at the age of 5.

            In a talk about Belcanto that she gives with Pavarotti and Sutherland she states “It is a surprise that she has a voice left”.

            It can be found here

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Beocer7gbLI

            Pavarotti, Horne and Sutherland all had a singing parent who recognised what was right and what was wrong in singing. What is more they were very protective about their talented children.

            Three singers, all on your list who were protected as they were taught. That’s what I’m on about, and it is a million miles to what is happening to Amira Willighagen or Jackie Evancho.

            I teach children, but I teach them what is safe. I don’t exploit them for a fast buck however charming they are.

          • Me and the world can only be grateful that somebody with the ignorance and dogmatic obtuseness of some pretentious know-it-all would-be coach has nothing to do with the development of Jackie Evancho or Amira Willighagen.

          • Yep, bowdlerizing texts and lyrics, and reducing everybody to your narrow-minded knowledge of ordinary children is your forte, and nothing to do with the formation of exceptional talent.

            The likes of you, who know only what’s average and pedestrian, are in fact an obstacle to the development of extraordinary talent. In this kind of environment, no great singer would ever emerge.

            You erect yourself as a saint, a protector of the “Whole Amira” (the arrogance!), eliminating lyrics, forbidding learning full arias, and practicing real music.

            Everybody else actively involved in the formation of Amira for instance, Gordon Heuckeroth, Andre Rieu, Simon Cowell, who have each one a lifetime of experience with the development of exceptional young voices, are disparaged as exploiters, immoral corrupters of the innocence of pure little Victorian angels, etc

            All this unbearable, obsolete, short-sighted middle-class morality has nothing to do with the development of great young singers.

          • Roo – I work as a “singing teacher” – a vocal coach is something different.

            Dogmatic- yes – it goes with the territory..

            Obtuse- only when necessary.

            Know-it-all. No I don’t! Like all good teachers and mentors, I am continually learning.

            Would-be-coach – never, my piano skills would need to be far better.

            I have been relevant and to the point. I have answered criticisms fairly, and to the best of my knowledge.

            Cabbage Juice asked for your credentials: I have over 10 years experience, a music degree, an LRSM in singing and am a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians. I correspond with singing teachers through the world (mainly in the UK and US) and perform -I’m a Soprano.

            I started singing before I could talk but never took regular lessons before the age of 14. I teach children to save them from developing bad singing habits. I teach adults to encourage them about the joys of singing.

            Other criticisms have included moraliser- well given I have two huge motes in both of my eyes, I’m not about to remove the speck from anyone elses. Yet when it comes to Child Protection, sure I care. It’s my job.

            Victorian- well that’s a laugh, had I been born in that age I’d be dead. Died at birth. Fortunately for my parents’ my husband’s and my children’s sake I did not.

    • Good thing that kids like Brittney Spears, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber make you proud of the so-called ‘industry’.

      What can be worst that children that like classical music, right?

      Well, worst could be just kids that actually are more successful than some adults.

  • Nowadays this kind of abuse and exploitation is so common I was not really surprised, but what took me completely aback after listening to Nessun Dorma and Il mio babbino caro is that this child has absolutely no discernible musical talent, yet Psycho and Sony are involved. Or are they – maybe this is NL’s early April Fool joke!

    Most 9 year-olds given the opportunity to do a karaoke version of Nessun Dorma “with” Pavarotti (I can’t believe that his estate ever allowed this horrendous posthumous travesty!) at a kids’ birthday party would have sounded as good or as bad!

    The real shame about this is that this young girl is going to have to read – now or in the future – all the detrimental things about her, when the criticism should be thrown at all those involved in promoting her. Hopefully, she (or presumably her parents/guardians) will make a lot of money (once the agents’ percentages and fees have been knocked off) to help fund a great education and launch her in a future career – I do not think it will be a musical one.

    • Let’s hope her parents are putting all of her earnings safely in a trust account for her future education and for the therapy she will need to recover from the number the parents, Simon Cowell, her agent and the record labels are doing on her.

      • Amira has been donating half the money she earned with her SA concert to have a play park build for the children of a township there. Because she believes Nelson Mandela who said that happy children will make happy grown-ups. If anything, Amira Willighagen is more “in tune” with the many aspects of life than 99.9999% of adults on this planet.

        • Houte Klomp:

          Couldn’t agree more.

          Also, Amira is more in tune with real aspects of life than most of the would-be coaches and managers on this blog.

        • So Amira has been giving half of her money away to charity. On the one hand how wonderful Now with my cynic’ s hat on just how manipulative can these “do-gooder adults” be?

          I’d rather see her climbing trees and playing in a play-park.

  • Deary me what a shame her parents can’t realize she should be playing girl sports at school developing manly muscles and a broken nose for a right of passage … she’s likely to end up like Jackie Evancho at this rate but maybe she’ll listen to the wisdom of the herein-stated negative comments and save her future.

  • Can anyone listening to that Il Mio Babbino Caro posted above detect a vestige of musical talent in this child? She has pipes, to be sure, and might be trained to something, but if she breathes that badly in studio conditions, how is she going to get through concerts on this tour caper?

    Doesn’t seem to be getting any pleasure from it, either. At least Jackie E usually looks as if she is having fun (which of course is the American grail).

    • Yep, she has talent, more than you and me put together will ever have.

      Keep in mind that she learned alone how to sing just by listening to records and YT videos, out of love for music, without understanding the lyrics or theory behind.

      To her, music was speaking directly. This is something to get jealous at 😉

      • Mihal:

        Well said, and well perceived.

        Those ignorant commenters suddenly discover in themselves a new vocation of career managers and voice coaches that they didn’t know they were harboring until now.

        The arrogance and the ineptitude are just laughable.

    • @ V. Lind

      She appears stressed in this studio setting — somewhat disappointing contrasted with her performances before large audiences seen in youtubes.

      • The video above was actually shot in a radio studio where Amira performed live as part of an interview during her visit to South Africa. This performance was not really planned so there was little time for preparation. Neither were studio conditions ideal, as the studio is equipped for radio broadcasts and not for performances of musicians.

        For a 9-yo who only started off her career 4 months ago, and is asked to sing live on the radio within the next 20 minutes or so, I guess it’s OK to be a bit stressed (I can’t tell if she actually was). IMHO she did quite well. Numerous professional artists with a long-time experience wouldn’t even do this as they can’t guarantee any proper result when performing live.

        Also, it appears that some are under the impression that Amira doesn’t do anything else than singing & performing all the time, which isn’t true. It’s been quite busy for her because she had to prepare and record her album, and recently she performed only twice (!!) in South-Africa (there’s no South-Africa tour whatsoever), but she normally goes to school, attends to sports & play, just like other children. She likes athletics and is actually a quite good runner. To Amira, singing is somewhat like a hobby, just like reading or cycling or playing tennis is to others.

          • @Janey: No I am not Amira’s relative, but I follow her developments quite close as I was really amazed to see such young child perform that well without any vocal training or music lessons.

            I do know (from an interview or from a newspaper article, don’t remember) that a singing coach was hired immediately when the CD-recording came on the agenda. After the CD-recording was completed halfway February, Amira performed twice in South Africa, for now it’s quiet, but there will be SOME more performances later this year in various countries. In May she will be performing in Las Vegas, which was the first prize she won during the talent show.

            It should be said that in the Netherlands children are protected quite well against child labour and are only allowed to perform 12 times a year. Even bigger TV interviews already count as a performance.

  • So many jealous people throwing crap on a child.

    Are you all that low to judge a child to standards that you could not reach?

    Are you all that low to throw stones on a child just because she dared to actually do something with her talent?

    Yes, you all pose as concerned for her health or the classical phrasing, but really, she has time to learn and develop, but she had a start better than many. We can forgive many things but it seems we can’t forgive other people’s achievements.

    She is good for her age and is nothing wrong to ride the tide while she can. If she would wait until she reach the age of “mature understanding of the music” and mature voice, she will no longer have the “wow” factor, she will no longer be a “wonder-child”.

    Now she has a good start, better make the best out of it.

    • Mihal:

      There’s nothing to learn from most of the commenters. They simply vent out their emotions and biases.

      More interesting is what Kiri Te Kanawa, who has gone the whole route, says in sharing her wisdom and experience in the BBC video she made: “What Makes a Great Soprano?” (June 2010) This video is viewable on YouTube,

      Kiri Te Kanawa is not shy about emphasizing the tough life of a great soprano. She examines most real aspects of a great soprano’s life

      At the end, she refuses to end on a negative note and concludes:

      “If you have the chance to become an opera singer, you have to go for it.”

      That is, if you happen to be blessed with a great voice, one that is recognized early, which gave you the chance to get top-class instruction from great coaches at an early age, and invaluable experience through your teens, you belong to a tiny minority of talented people on this planet, and you owe it to yourself. and to the world, to cultivate your exceptional voice, and take the gamble of shooting for a “great soprano” part.

      Kiri Te Kanawa does not add the following remark: If, towards age 30, you find yourself still relegated to minor roles, with no int’l recognition, it is still time to make a decision and call it quits, and start something new.

      In fact, I have witnessed this leave-taking around 30 among many young singers stuck at the Met in New York, getting little roles and going nowhere. This rule of thumb is also part of the wisdom of actors and singers on Broadway. Each opera house uses a lot of support singers who have no names, and will never be stars. The managers need them for their full shows.

      Starting with good recognition at an early age gives the singer a head start over all the other ordinary voices, who were unable to get the best instruction when younger, and a far better chance to become a “great soprano”, a chance that most young singers, with ordinary voices, will never get.

  • To all naysayers–

    A hypothetical for you: Imagine a popular but long-retired soprano re-entering the limelight in need of a cash boost and she performs at Carnegie Hall with great anticipation on everyone’s part.

    AND VOILA — she rattles off O Mio in a grand manner but just a hint of weakness in the high range and the next day the reviews compliment her wondrous attempt and retained talent but a group of nayrighteoso types spout HOW RUINOUS DOESN’T SHE KNOW WHEN TO QUIT — DOESN’T SHE KNOW SHE’LL BUTCHER HER VOICE IF SHE DOESN’T STOP THE NONSENSE!!

    Perhaps a negatizer could explain the difference between too young and too old (or is the answer simply too envious).

    • This simply doesn’t hold water. For many years James Bowman has been one of my favourite singers, both in live performance and in his many recordings. Because I am more than forty years younger than Mr Bowman I never quite had the opportunity to appreciate his singing at the high point of his career. Nearly three years ago I was fortunate enough to hear his last major public performance with Mahan Esfahani at the Wigmore Hall, and I had heard him several times before that in recent years, as well as once back in 1996, when I was too young to really appreciate what a great singer he was. What one heard in those more recent performances was not, alas, James Bowman at his absolute best, but it was nonetheless the voice of a man who can claim to have been the greatest countertenor at least since the dawn of the age of recorded music. Indeed, James Bowman just a few months shy of his 70th birthday was a finer singer than younger performers such as Michael Chance, Robin Blaze, Iestyn Davies, Tim Mead, David Daniels, Andreas Scholl, or Philippe Jaroussky. Mr Bowman’s still performing at the age of 69 offered an intimation of his greatness, however much (or little) that may have faded. More pragmatically, one has to wonder whether a 69-year-old singer would really much worry about the impact of such a performance on his future career prospects. As for older sopranos, off the top of my head I can recall hearing performances by Jessye Norman and Kiri Te Kanawa within the last year or two. Before that concert back in May 2012 Jessye Norman was a singer I had known only from her recordings, and I consider her to be more or less the greatest soprano I’ve had the opportunity to hear in my lifetime. Was her performance that night particularly good? No. Am I nonetheless pleased to have been there? Yes: it afforded me an opportunity to hear in live concert performance the voice of a singer I had adored for years from her recordings, and I shall always have the satisfaction of knowing that I once heard her sing at the Royal Festival Hall. Again, she has had her career, so it doesn’t much matter what she does with her voice now. The difference with this nine-year-old is that she hasn’t had a career yet, and she will ruin her voice before she has had a chance to.

      • I submit my perception holds as much water as — take your choice — stainless steel bathtub or Hoover dam… your enjoyment of a performer who has earned a dignified retirement but must squeeze the last drop of substance from a career for need of some loose change is for me much crueler treatment than cashing in on a young self-coached phenomenon who may well lack the substance to ever reach the height of an accomplished opera performer.

        Your view if measured by water containment capacity is leaking sieve-like.

    • Too young: little or no comprehension of texts or the meaning of notes on a page.

      Too old: staggeringly insightful comprehension of texts and notes on a page (i.e. Fischer-Dieskau “Winterreise” recordings made between 1980 and 1990).

      • Understanding content and context is not important to most of her audience compared with the phenomenon of self coaching at age nine … Jackie didn’t begin to blossom until an old lady of ten AFTER coaching … to each his/her own set of values.

        It is unlikely ANY other opera performer has self-coached at her age and this sets her apart as a legitimate unique and deserving act to appreciate … she may lack the goods to EVER become an opera performer and if she doesn’t cash in on what she’s got when she’s got it then it could go down the drain as a total loss rather than what is happening getting the attention of millions that in itself could lead to other potential career paths including acting, etc.

        • “and this sets her apart as a legitimate unique and deserving act to appreciate”. I couldn’t have said it any better. For the rest, it seems that many THINK or ASSUME that all she ever wants is to become a great opera performer. I have my doubts if a 9-yo can be fully determined about her future.

  • Personality — character — adorability … things to discover in a performer aside from perfect musicology.

    Musical purists can’t relate to coarse voices as per Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Durante, Joe Cocker –regardless of how successful they may have been as entertainers.

    If Amira has a voice slightly lacking in clarity held up to a Caballe then do we write her off in spite of her amazing achievement of self-coaching at the age of nine and in her interviews displaying an abundance of personality giving cause for wanting to know something about her.

    Selectivity shown by some of the comments reflects a sad approach to life excluding all but the tiny segment of perfection that may some day be discovered to brighten a life of miserable cynicism.

    • Richard, I think here you state as fact something that is not demonstrated at all. You’d find a lot of people here who love Louis Armstrong and Joe Cocker. I do, and I could add a lot of other rough voices to the list. But I wouldn’t want Louis Armstrong or Joe Cocker performing the repertoire Amira is taking on, such as Puccini arias. And, for that matter, I wouldn’t want Amira singing Armstrong’s “St. Louis Blues” or Cocker’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On.” It would be kind of grotesque.

      There was another viral video this week with a little 7-year-old Norwegian girl imitating Billie Holiday (another legendary flawed voice, harrowingly so in the last years of a short, sad life). The little girl had studied and was mimicking a record about contemplating suicide to join a dead lover, in her imperfect phonetic English, and of course the idiot judging panel and audience members were wiping tears from their eyes and had their mouths hanging open for the cameras on cue, and the whole thing seemed to me in the worst taste. But there is an audience for this bad taste. To some people, I guess, this is perfect: someone who sounds like Billie Holiday, but is adorable and huggable. All of the things they find off-putting about the real one replaced by an adorable snaggletoothed grin.

    • No-one was looking for perfect musicology – as many have stated here, there seems to be an absence of ANY musicality. Singing something roughly in tune is not the same as being a musician. And as I have suggested before, no blame or criticism should be directed at the young girl herself, but those who have clearly decided to “invest” in her. I write as one who loves the great classical pure voices as well as the less pure (Callas thread anyone!), not to mention Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Durante and Joe Cocker. Let’s add one of the greatest musicians ever – Frank Sinatra – hardly the embodiment of “perfect musicology”, but surely the peerless embodiment of musicianship!

    • Surely you are not going to compare her to Louis Armstrong. Wynton Marsalis said of Armstrong, ‘He left an undying testimony to the human condition in the America of his time.’ I would actually go further and say that the words ‘in the America of his time’ are unnecessary. Armstrong possessed a voice of unusual beauty and musicianship of the first rank. What is more, he never claimed to be an opera singer.

  • When I was her age I was a cathedral chorister, and I can think of no better training for a young singer, male or female (take as an example of the latter Elizabeth Watts). Although I am not now a singer, one of my contemporaries is now a concert and recording soloist of international reputation. Several others are now forging successful careers as musicians, in singing, in other performing roles, and in composing. None of them achieved this by being thrust into the limelight aged nine singing operatic arias appropriate to a trained adult voice. They achieved it by performing music that was appropriate to their stage of physical, technical, musical, intellectual, and emotional development, and, very importantly, by learning to perform as a member of an ensemble, rarely as a soloist. Of course, there are other possible routes. Marina Poplavskaya, for example, sang in the children’s chorus of the Bolshoi from the age of nine. Sadly, I fear that this girl, who may well have some sort of potential, will never become an Elizabeth Watts or a Marina Poplavskaya, because she is not receiving the sort of training that she needs, and she is being encouraged to perform repertoire that is at this stage inappropriate. She is not yet ready to sing ‘O for the wings of a dove’, let alone ‘O mio babbino caro’.

  • *She is good for her age and is nothing wrong to ride the tide while she can. If she would wait until she reach the age of “mature understanding of the music” and mature voice, she will no longer have the “wow” factor, she will no longer be a “wonder-child”.*

    Totally different topic: exploiting her “marketability” and “wow factor” as opposed to nursing talent. Reminds me of Michelle Wie, the so-called golf phenom who turned pro at 15, with very few wins (one, I believe) but a few “wow factor” -amazing for her age sorts of appearances in LPGA events. Her wow factor didn’t take her anywhere, and she has had at best a mediocre career since. Perhaps if she had continued to compete as an amateur till she became a regular winner, she might have learned enough to be a factor on the pro tour. Now she is in her twenties and as unexciting as any other journeyman player.

    And the notion that anyone is envious of this child because she may hit notes we could not make is ludicrous. Just listen to that recording on the video above. It’s desperately awful.

    • Awful for you is wonderful for the millions apparently leaving you out-voted … might add you’re invited to non-attendance at her next concert and don’t give up on comparing golf to singing … certainly there’s a connection — golf clubs and vocal cords are very similar in the opinion of many who think like you.

  • I don’t think that timbre-wise, Amira is imitating anyone else. In contrast to other kids stars, she sounds like she is singing in her own voice even if autotune may have been the fairy godmother to save the day. In her live performances, she is frequently off pitch though. Of course she has no business at the age of 9 to sing opera at all, or any public singing for that matter except at school functions. She is not fault but her handlers are, the same for the other parents with neurotic ambition and dollar signs in their eyes.

    What is being imitated here is the child star phenomenon, the younger the better, while last year’s sensation, no matter if only a few years older, has to exit stage left.

    Most of the young moppets are mimicking other trailblazers who in turn have mined the youtube cache for repertoire and actual copying of interpretation complete with facial and arm gestures.

    Obviously, for anyone who knows anything about singing, this is NOT the right way to go at all.

  • @Yes Addison

    Thanks for comments kind and generous in discussion-inspiring content… now here we have two groups of critics with one saying she lacks potential and the other saying she does have and will destroy it.

    My view differs in that I know or care not how much potential as a performer but what an accomplishment as a nine-year-old self-coached with no chin waggle explorer of culture and a resultant audience appeal factor all adding up to a first in human history — NOBODY BUT NOBODY HAS EVER DONE THIS… and we should lock her up until age 20 missing the wonder of her achievement… oh right on you bright wisdom-drenched critics– and anyone bothered and/or uninterested can follow the just laws of the land and look the other way rather than in any manner attempt to diminish the efforts of someone this unique.

  • Evidently most are unaware that Jackie Evancho cut back on her performing schedule & returned to school in Jan 2014. She will graduate 8th grade (primary school) with her class. She’s gradually recording her 5th professional album now in a studio near her home in Pittsburgh.

    Her voice continues to develop beautifully. The predictions of doom & gloom by many simply haven’t materialised. I agree with Ehkzu & hope the critics of her parents apologise, as this child is not being exploited. She says repeatedly in interviews that the impetus to sing comes from her, & she doesn’t do anything professionally that she doesn’t want to do.

    As far as Amira goes, her parents reportedly hired a professional singing teacher when she went to the studio to record her album. She has improved since HGT, but personally I still find it painful to listen to her. I do hope she doesn’t harm her voice, because like others, I believe she has significant talent. Her voice doesn’t approach Jackie’s in beauty of timbre, though. The Italian word “morir” (to die) is a bit odd for a high note at the end, of course.

    • @Laptop

      She deserves credit for a total lack of chin waggle that’s been plaguing Jackie and Charlotte through the years to the present and if her timbre is short of Jackie’s it’s a long way up from some of the recently mentioned classic performers… seems timbre pales held up to spirited magical talent.

      Age nine and she’s criticized as if around for a decade — a little patience why not?

      She’s been performing on stage with a far happier aura than this studio stint — perhaps a Cowell judgment error though she does sound a bit less worried than she looks.

      Doesn’t seem reason enough to restrict her to school sports with all the dubious aftermath potential… she’s admired by many and cashing in enough for a comfortable future possibly enhanced with charitable activities displaying real character.

      Hope CJ is OK.

    • @ RebeccaNYC

      Would it be relevant to mention intense coaching made that performance happen — no self teaching here — and with all that high range stress you seem to be recommending — more intense than Amira’s repertoire … did you listen carefully?

      Miss Sills was held back from all further demanding performances for years to preserve her gift … leading me to wonder what point is made with your comment.

  • Just to set the record straight for those who brought up the subject of Jackie Evancho by way of comparison, and there are correlations with the way the careers are handled, her voice or more precisely her vocal production, has not improved at all. The clips of the past year show her in obvious struggle, the very last has a complete muddle of the words of My Heart Will Go On. After fans hearing this umpteen times, one supposes that it is not important to understand the text anymore. And judging by poor ticket sales, this small group is the only crowd who make pilgrimages to her concerts to hear the same rep done in the same maudlin style over and over again. Others below the age of 50 are just not interested.

    It has been admitted that Amira copied how to sing arias from youtube but this is the one revelation absent from any Evancho publicity about her singing CC . In the beginning she did admit how much she “learned ” from Sarah Brightman but saying that is only the tip of the iceberg from what was lifted lock stock and barrel from Aled Jones, Charlotte Church, Westenra, Streisand, Battle and the last, a thinly disguised imitation of Celine Dion in Vie En Rose. The last is astonishing in that actual notes different from the original have been taken from Dion but this was the same with Westenra’s Dark Waltz.

    In contrast to Beverly Sills, Mirella Freni and Julie Andrews, choices were made for Amira and Jackie that are very risky indeed. In Amira’s case, it is actual vocal strain she may not be able to recover from. So far with Jackie not having a proper teacher and relying on videos to copy despite a good amount of instinct and stage presence have in effect narrowed down her possibilities, not enhanced them.

    A contrived or manufactured tone, one learns in any good vocal studio – no matter how pretty or fetching it may be – is a limiting factor in expression. This bears out with what is being done with Jackie, not being able to give up the her emblematic tone in favor of a freer and natural one that would right away multiply all the other styles she can explore.

    • I would say your demographic would fit with those below the age of 50 are not that interested in Opera. At the ripe old age of 27, I find Jackie’s voice has very much improved. Her diction has much improved. Her lower register is richer and fuller. The support of her higher register has improved. However, much to your disappointment I am sure, the “Doom and Gloom” scenario you and others of your ilk have predicted for her voice has proven to be another red herring. Not only has her voice grown stronger instead of being shredded but is even more beautiful than before. That performance of “La Vie En Rose” with Jumaane Smith was wonderful and the most downloaded song off that CD by far. With her upcoming performance at the National Memorial Day Concert, 3RD PBS special and another CD with some original music with at least one song written by Jackie herself, we will be in better position to judge just how much more she has improved since her SFTSS CD. I look forward to watching her continue to dissipate the hot air that is still being issued by the pundits nearly 4 years after her debut.

  • A defence of fair comment can fail if the defendant shows malice, as in Thomas v Bradbury, Agnew & Co. (1906); the defendant not only criticised the claimant’s book but made many personal slurs against the author, invalidating the defence.

    • Noone is on trial here. It’s just the usual pundits and their usual predictions of doom and gloom. Once again a child sings and is immediately attacked by the adults for daring to cross their sacred boundries, and it is always the same old pundits doing the attacking. Same old arguments,same old predictions that have yet to come to fruition. It’s comical in a way. It’s like they continue to sling mud at a wall covered with silicone hoping something will stick yet continues to slide off into the muck already pooling at the bottom. Who knows…maybe if they sling enough for long enough they eventually wear a hole in the armor and then they can concentrate their attack in earnest.

  • @CJ

    Thanks for offering some deeper water to explore … perceptions of Jackie and her influences are well taken and an addition to the thread appreciated as always.

    Your attention magnet of past brutality intermittently interspersed in your comments is evolving into majestic brilliance to be respected similarly or beyond that due the quality of performers being discussed.

    On this higher discussion plateau may I offer only a hint of disagreement to all you said concerning Jackie so minor as to be unworthy of mention but your comment about Amira leaves me to wonder considering this thread does concern her primarily and you gave her but scant mention except to say her path is one of destruction.

    I find joy in discovering brilliance whether an offering of nature in the form of an emerging butterfly from a cigar butt pupa to a human gift in the form of rich tone and radiant spirit surpassing that of competing performers far advanced in years and experience… Amira is truly if given thorough scrutiny a wonder unique and superior — considering facial beauty, perfect smile, absolute lack of chin waggle (I seem to be the only observer of this), and achieving the attention and success she has at this point all as a result of teaching herself from youtubes… how predictable can that be assuming it had never happened and how fortunate we are to see it now that it has.

    This leaves the question of how well suited she may be for a future opera career and if she has lost such a future opportunity by what she has done so far.

    CJ, I hope you’re also aware of Alma Deutscher — writing operas and chamber music at age eight — brilliance in a league with Mozart.

    • @richard First of all, it is necessary to disabuse you and others of the notion of “gloom and doom”. No one said that Jackie’s voice would be ruined by the age of 14, so there is no need to apologize to anyone. But since you and those like you are not professionals, you cannot appreciate what it means to have compounded bad vocal habits from an early age. The effects might not show up immediately but it is only commonsense that neural and muscular patterns are imprinted deeper in youth than adulthood. Therefore it is essential that care must taken that ONLY the safest, time proven and most conservative methods be used. Obviously imitation from youtube without a teacher is not reliable.

      As for the ability to sing a high Ab, a lot of kids can do it – yes, girls and boys!!! There was a girl in my class at the age of 10 who could sing a high D as the crowning note for our choir’s rendering of Victor Herbert’s “Italian Street Song” the one with the “Zizzy, zing”. (In retrospect that lady who coached us was quite clever and advanced in choice of repertoire.) Later, in working with children, I found that this ability to sing high on the staff was COMMON.

      The problem with Amira’s singing these notes is way they are distributed and emphasized in a song or aria, not the light coloratura that Sills and Andrews excelled in as kids. The OMB, ND, etc., require a certain kind of sustainability that can only come from developed abdominal muscles. Otherwise the upper muscular systems will over compensate. Your pointing out that Amira doesn’t have a jaw waggle doesn’t mean a thing except that she is more open and free in her singing (albeit undersupported) than those young singers who push the sound into the resonators that in turn gobble up the words.

  • @CJ

    Thanks for the contradictory attempt at deflated flattery in telling me lack of chin waggle means nothing but being open and free… how about a break just once and anyway exactly WHAT is more important than open and free — a perfect demonstration of your allergy to granting remarks smacking of kindness or even a hint of reality such as was due me this time.

    And we might emphasize chin waggle includes lip waver all having no effect in an audio recording but a video with a defect like this is at least for me a negative not found in proficient mature performers and an unexpected positive for Amira.

    As for that Sills video … starting at 2:50 could anyone deny the stress level in that high-range passage … you would wish THAT on Amira or Jackie — no wonder they protected her for several years following such a stint.

    Amira surprisingly for her age captures some of opera’s essence even including the uncomfortable shrill quality some performers rarely project giving opera-haters something to claim as part of their negative rationale and her first performance on HGT was the best example of her capacity for fearless stage-fright-free moxie … only at this age perhaps can anyone be so naively fearless.

    The uninteresting thing with Alma Deutscher is she’s so non-controversial being above any kind of criticism… does that include even you?

  • CJ,

    An intellect so admirable combined with an attitude commendable would be like frosting on a cake seems to me.

    • @richard In more than 30 years of teaching female voices, I have rarely come across chin waggle except in mature women who had this habit for a long time and it was very hard to break. In fact, I have one student now who I thought got rid of it some time ago but as bad habits have a habit of doing, come back to haunt when one least expects it or is under stress. I found this to be true with me personally in piano or singing performance. Hence the utter importance in establishing good patterns early.

      I already posted a link of Alma Deutscher (more Schubertian than Mozartean IMO) who seems to be getting fine guidance and grounding in music. She also has a charming singing voice as well but of course is not doing opera or melancholic jazz or crossover.

      Pushing the lower limits, the latest kid sensation so far hails from Norway, two years younger than Amira, and one year apart from Alma – Angelina Jordan mimicking Billie Holiday in “Gloomy Sungday” (!). At her age of 7, Shirley Temple was singing the Good Ship Lollipop and rightly so. This only give you an idea how well children can imitate down to the last detail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2da7N6ADm9s

      As for the poster who was going on about no need for life experience to interpret a song, well are we supposed to believe a kiddie’s melodrama or when it comes from the heart of Lady Day herself? One does not have to be rigidly literal in expecting everyone who sings anything to have experienced all the emotions. However to give an example of Nessun Dorma, the expression is embedded in the music and geared for a certain type of singer to be able to personify and give life to the aria. An underage girl or boy could never have the right pipes for it.

  • CJ,

    For clarification — I simply offered something I read about Alma being another Mozart but that referred to her progress timeline being more Mozart than Schubert although your observation of Schubert similarity I wouldn’t dispute except to say her idol may be someone in the past OR present that I have not heard reported.

    Do you think the musical DNA overload she apparently owns is simply taking its own direction without external influence… she is so exceptional that my thinking can be speculative at best and I must spend some time with her youtube interviews to learn more.

    I did see the opera she wrote and directed and performed in as well as her string quartet she wrote and performed in and the whole package is dreamlike — more exceptional than Amira who is dream stuff herself … who would have believed such early accomplishments possible without actually seeing it happen.

    The naysayers should become familiar with Alma’s achievements for more negatizer fodder and a break from the usual chastisements … just type in Alma Deutscher on youtube.

    CJ, time for a friendly fight (not sure from what you said whether we disagree totally) over the girl from Norway … you make the point of needing experience for maturity to sing Nessun Dorma or OMB but they are fictional fluff contrasted with the real life experiences that shaped the attitudes and emotions of Lady Day.

    Without attempting anything resembling a biography ‘nough said when you mix alcohol,/drugs-plus-plus and stir it in a pot with the most magical of talent and need to prove herself and capacity for compassion (Strange Fruit … probably on youtube) … then why ask a seven-year-old who can’t have experienced a fraction of her life — regardless of inherent talent — any more than you can place gold foil over clay and pass it off for the real thing … Angelina is for me a thin coating on a song of extreme substance as performed by LD.

    Jackie’s chin waggle may have started as a stress symptom at the time of David Foster’s over-promoting her from the start of his tutelage when he stood her on stage more than thirty minutes straight during the Houston concert at age ten … I don’t recall any negatizer commenting on that episode.

    I can’t imagine teaching these young talents … it seems like an enchanting process for you.

    • @richard From what I have seen and heard of Alma, she has an uncanny knack for surprising harmonic progressions so reminiscent of Schubert. She also has an amazing sense of musical shape like an precocious artist or sculptor. This is born, not made, although I do think that plenty of children would exhibit incredible abilities if not drilled out of them from an early age. Her family, I believe, is musical and like Leopold Mozart, knew they had something extraordinary and were just as capable of handling it.

      I wanted to compose from the age of 10 but a piano teacher said when I was about 13, that my scribblings were not “modern”. Well, how could they be since I was being brought up on Clementi and other Romantic composers? So I gave that up, probably my compositions would not have amounted to much but it was unfair to step on my ambitions from the get go.

      The missing puzzle piece in the dispute about whether one needs life experience or not to interpret songs or arias, that most good musicians are aware of anyway, is, I repeat, expression is embedded in the music. Thus, interpretation relies on on the ability to decode the music. This lifelong study is to listen to and assimilate yet more music, to compare with others, to learn more history and cultural settings, and last but not least, to continually hone one’s skills in the instrument of choice.

      This is what the kids are NOT doing, but it is a good place to start.

  • Children should not be singing operatic arias written for Grown Women. It is wrong. It is exploitative, and it does them harm.

    Why? Because they are not physically grown women, mentally grown women or psychologically grown women.

    In the UK do we allow children as young as 11 to marry? O Mio Babbino Caro is all about a young woman who is so in love that she’ll throw herself into the Arno and commit suicide if her father does not allow her to marry her sweet-heart.

    There are long soaring lines, that should be sung with a well supported voice, chiaroscuro and squillo.

    It takes YEARS to fully develop the correct placement to maximise the Singer’s formant and sing with controlled squillo. YEARS (aka more than 11) to develop the correct musculature in the back and adbominals to support the sound. An 11 year old should sound like a child, and not have a trembling bottom lip in order to produce something that resembles vibrato. They will have a bright sound, but if singing safely will not have the range of colours required to sing Puccini.

    There are plenty of songs that are appropriate. Songs clearly written for trebles and children. Some art songs of various Nationalities, good folk song arrangements. However, these should not include Soprano Operatic Arias written for the developed voice.

    What happens as a consequence is that these singers develop psychological problems, and physiological issues to do with their voices.

    Felicity Lott is singing a farewell tour at the age of 70. Victoria del Los Angelis sang until well into her 80s. Well trained singers should be at their peak between the ages of 35-55. If this young lady wants to sing, she has time. It is far safer to bide the time and keep the voice rather than crash and burn.

    Music is for life and not just whilst a little girl is cute.

    • Joanna,

      Your input valued as always reminds me of an experience concerning a Tony Bennett performance at NJ Arts Center summer of 1993 .

      So here he was in person the man who had enchanted us as college students in the fifties slow dancing to “Because of You” and “Cold Cold Heart” and many other gifts of his artistry … this would cap off the magic he had brought to my life — this priceless evening — and then song after song disappointment after disappointment because the top of his range was gone — gone for whatever reason including a variety of possibilities and gone most sadly because those high notes were the peak of his substance most loved and noted by fans and by the time I headed home my heart had sunk with pity for his even attempting a live performance at this age … there I was left in heavy traffic heading home on the boring Garden State Parkway with only a dismal capping of my valued memories he had created.

      AND NOW FOR THE BEAUTIFUL SURPRISE ENDING — through the following years I paid little attention to his activities wondering all the while when he would finally retire and suddenly shortly after 2010 I heard a new recording — at the time it was approaching twenty years after that night in New Jersey when I thought he was overdue for retirement — in which he was doing a series of duets with the best-known female performers of the time AND THOSE MISSING NOTES HAD RETURNED… due to therapy or whatever … and now he’s STILL GOING — even two shows with Jackie — now he’s past eighty five!

      ALWAYS BE CAREFUL ABOUT WRITING SOMEONE OFF.

    • @richard You should post the Celine Dion recording as well that this “interpretation” has a peculiar resemblance to. Most outstanding is the little flip on “moi”, a half tone grace note that appears in the original Dion. Other clues that betray copying are the emphases on the last words of the phrases.

      However, in Jackie’s case they are done mechanically without reference to the text and presumably to show off a certain timbre at the end. This of course reaches the limit of what kids can do if they don’t know the language they are singing. Even with a minimum of coaching, Amira would not be breathing in the middle of words either like her predecessor in all things Puccini.

      • CJ,

        Your technical pointers are always interesting but we both know for sure they go far over the heads of 99 percent of her fans… look at her record and you see an entertainment strategist rather than a pure vocalist like Amira … Jackie’s wondrous timbre elaborated in her frequently long-held high notes and unsurpassed stage manner and an obvious personality/character quotient off the scale… just imagine going back to her former school and re-integrating with her classmates with all that fame and fortune creating a social wall that she seems to magically dissolve.

        I can only imagine her advancing to far-reaching roles outside of singing in a colorful future.

  • @Richardcarlisle. We are not going to agree as far as these child singers are concerned.

    1) I can sing O mio Babbino Caro (along with a fair amount of the rest of Puccini’s other Soprano Arias)

    2) I have taught O mio Babbino Caro – and would never dream of doing so to any child too young for their voice not tho have settled, or who is not vocally ready for it.

    3) I don’t think La Vie en Rose is suitable for a child either. The lyrics are totally inappropriate.

    4) When those who think I criticise, believe I do so from the position of one who can’t -they are wrong. I am a singer and a singing teacher. I may not have a record deal, and may not be top-billing at Covent Garden, but I do perform, and I also teach. There are no sour grapes.

    • We do not and cannot doubt your singing or teaching abilities as we have not yet herd you, but you certainly have a fetish and fixation about the suitability of lyrics. La Vie en Rose ought to be sung in French and one way of looking at it would be that there is no need to teach the meaning or give a translation to a young singer if YOU felt that the text verges on the questionable. After all the great John MacCormack gave great interpretations and recordings of Hugo Wolf’s leider without ever understanding a word of the German.

      • There is no way McCormack could have sung in German in Berlin in the 1920’s and not know the language. He still had to have a working knowledge to get around. Here is one review: “His Beethoven, sung in German, mind you- – German that one could understand to the last row- – was so profound and emotional utterance that even the unreligious must have been moved.”

        Another: “Aside from the beauty of tone and the musical taste that are familiar virtues in everything he does, he exhibited a degree of excellence in his German diction and an almost exhaustive understanding of their poetic and emotional import, which for a non German was thought impossible.” http://www.mccormacksociety.co.uk/history.html/his1.htm

        • Weeelllll, two things, 1 – this is all very funny how this conversation moved so far away from the little girl wannabees through Liszt, Cziffra and now McCormack. 2 – we could hardly expect other then positive comments on the McCormack Society web pages but may I prefer you to Gerald Moore’s more impartial views in his most interesting chapter on McCormack in which Moore recounts the times when McCormack depended so much on others to interpret and translate. McCormack’s time was so different from today. So many start singers could not read a note of music, e.g. Caruso onwards and had to have it drilled into them parrot fashion by a particularly accommodating pianist. Many learned the text in similar manner. McCormack as known to use crib notes in most concerts, see the film/videos for proof.

          • No one really cares if a singer is fluent or not in the languages he or she is singing. It is the end result that counts. There’s nothing wrong in having a coach either. In fact, it is expected. Singing is not the same as speech anyway and one must learn the rules, for example in English, what to do with diphthongs, moving the back consonants forward, and so on.

            Singers not only read music these days, they also play at least one other instrument. As for cribbing words, it has become commonplace to see scores right in front of them on stands, but personally I don’t like that very much.

            If you want to return to the wannabes, it is ridiculous to parade them before the public in an unfinished state, for them and for the music. Chopped up or muddled text with wrong accents and scansion mean they have not come out of the first lessons. This is a problem if the teacher is the computer screen hooked up to the youtube.

          • Excellent reply, thank you. My remark about MacCormack using crib notes was more an observation rather than a criticism and I do not care for music on stands either even if it is a Caballe or Pavarotti. Yes, youtube has a lot to answer for indeed.

    • I do not have a fetish about lyrics. What I want to do is avoid perverted adults having a fetish about children singing inappropriate words. What language they are in is immaterial.

      • What about non-perverted adults who enjoy hearing someone sing beautifully and emotionally; whether the singer or the listener understands the words or not, and regardless of the age of the singer?

  • Joanna,

    Perhaps Felix Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words” were created to settle disputes in that time concerning who should appropriately perform specific songs with questionably proper lyrics and possibly made the point: if it sounds good it IS good?

      • True but Mendelssohn did write some relatively straight forward Lieder which young people may try as well as the Schubert other contributors have already mentioned. Less demanding on both voice and intellect.

        • I made that point when I mentioned “Art Song of various nationalities” I didn’t simply mean English and American stuff. There will be some lieder, some melodie, some early Italian Song all suitable for the younger singer. I’d still vet the lyrics.

          • Why vet the lyrics? Teach the child the real meaning and there will nothing untoward or pernicious. We all have to learn an appreciation of the poems and their deeper meanings and all the more so if not in our mother tongue.

          • Is it really worth arguing with them?

            “Gloomy Sunday” is NOT for a 7 year old even if she understands, to a certain extent, the lyrics. The same goes for 9 year olds chirping out Nessun Dorma. Some of us still appreciate the notion of preserving a child’s or adolescent’s innocence as much as possible despite popular culture that would truncate this stage of development, or even compress it all into child-woman, personified by the lipsticked and costumed tykes in so-called beauty contests.

          • Why vet lyrics?

            At the age of 15, I was taught Arne’s “Where the bee sucks”. At the age of 39, I was writing up my programme notes for my Licenciate Diploma and working on the content of Purcell’s “Bess of Bedlam”. I cam across a jolly little paper all about 17th Century flower imagery in poetry – it made for a jolly viva as I went through every reference to Sex and madness contained in the song. I soon realised that “Where the bee sucks was not an innocent ditty and felt faintly embarrassed about singing this song at 15, given my moral view on the world at that age.

            The Dowland song “Come again Sweet Love doth now Invite” is, once stripped of its poetic niceties, pure filth. It does not stop me singing it, but I’m an adult, and a bit of coquettish flirtation when singing is not a problem. I would not want either of my sons singing it (indeed, they’d be embarrassed).

            A vocal teacher has a duty of care to their pupils and to the moral compass of the families of pupils. It is called respect. It is fine for adults to deal with lyrics that contain what is now known as “adult themes”, it is wrong to give them to children. It is akin to paedophilia.

            Now you know why I vet lyrics.

          • “Fly me to the moon, Jupiter and Mars, kiss me BABY” for that is just what she is at 7, even barefoot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFWs2Z_RZ3Y

            I find this beggars explanation for whoever does not GET IT, that children should NOT be petite versions of adult crooners. I feel like I come from a different planet or century when the above is touted as normal and acceptable. But whatever, it still doesn’t make it right. Right is right even if no one does it and wrong is wrong even if everyone does it – a little bit of pre-modern prudence, but NOT prudery.

            A time and place for everything but at 7 or 9, it NOT the time for a, musky, jaded cigarette tone. Anyone who was snickering at the notion at how well children can imitate (those who are not teachers and work with children), has the proof right here and now.

            PS I always suspected there was some hidden innuendo in the Purcell song about the “bee”…

          • You are grossly over reacting, Whoever would dream of stripping poetry, as you so eloquently put it already has a warped and perverted mind. By your own admission it took you a full 24 long years, long after you lost the innocence of childhood to inflict upon the verses lurid possibilities. It is the lies of you who are poisoning little minds and destroying their youth by trying to convert classics into modern day pornography. Now where does the pedophilia come in…?

          • The thing is Mike, I have to think about this little thing call professional ethics. Professional Ethics state that you do not permit the sexualisation of minors.

            You asked where paedophilia came in. Would you tolerate a nine year old wearing a padded bra, plunge top and Hot Pants, then dancing in a provocative fashion? No – and neither would I. So why let them sing about it. I didn’t say it was paedophilia, I said it was akin to paedophilia. What about the innocence of children?

            I refuse both as a teacher and a parent to promoting material that is not age-appropriate. Where are the boundaries. This is not over-reacting it is sensible child protection.

          • I repeat, is it worth arguing with them???

            A kid or his/her parents can look up the poems in a library or the internet and find out what they allude to. Ignorance may be excusable but once the meaning is revealed, what are you going to do, pretend it doesn’t exist? Pedophilia is not only child rape but filling their heads with that stuff. And some people do monitor the content of TV programs that their kids watch and censor internet sites.

          • Modern methods of dress cannot be compared for a single second with baroque or classical verse. Dress is clearly in front of us for all to see. The the inner meaning of poetry is often veiled until we are 20 plus years older to decipher the deeper [and darker] meaning if such exists.

          • “The inner meaning of poetry is often veiled until we are 20 plus years older…”

            Mike Earles, do you actually think this is better?

            What you are stating logically can be reduced to this:

            I’ll let a 10 year old sing a song all about enjoying being a whore. It does not matter that she hasn’t a clue what it is about as that is poetry and it is couched in such beautiful language – may not be one she speaks.

            Have you heard of the phrase “Pig wearing lipstick”? It does not matter how beautiful and shiny the lipstick is, it still is a pig.

            I rest my case.

          • My Dear Joanna, you are swinging from the ridiculous to the sublime. Please do give me your example of enjoying being a whore and we will take it from there. Your little case is not resting or rested.

            Please do try to make the effort to see the big picture and not allow yourself to become imprisoned in what is a very narrow mind set. You cannot be judge and jury. Students are all free to choose who they wish to be their teachers, preferably ones with open and accepting minds with no desire to correct or rewrite history or our works of art.

          • @Mike – you and I are not going to agree about this.

            I’ve spoken to a number of teachers who all agree, that teachers have a professional duty to protect children.

            You are perfectly correct students can go to any teacher they want. When these students are considered to be “adult”, then I’ll happily teach them more adult material. I have no problem with songs that are coquettish, flirtatious and darn right suggestive. However, I won’t give them to children to sing.

            In the UK, there is an age of consent of 16. That is the law. Now all-in-all In a Libertarian, but there are moral and ethical issues here.

            I quite frankly don’t care what you think about the matter. This is my stance having read the UK government’s most recent reports on Child Protection (Every Child matters and the Monro Report). I have standards, and I’m sticking by them.

          • I really am not quite sure why you invoke the “age of consent”. No one is proposing setting sex to song or music even though that has also been done in the past. I am originally from Great Britain and have been overseas for a while. Looking in rather than inwardly I have to say this is where people at large, do gooders and so called politicians have lost their way with so called political correctness, an new fangled money making invention if ever there was one!! I suppose you will be wanting to rewrite Dickens and Bronte next. Do remember while you are pontificating in your glass or ivory tower that extremely young children can teach us a whole lot more bout the birds and the bees than ever we knew at their age.

            You have got this whole issue so totally out of context and proportion that it beggars belief. Understand the simplicity of teaching young people to sing quality classical texts rather than tripe and understand that this is so far from seducing the adolescent as has happen in and out of the world of music.

  • Joanna,

    I didn’t say or intend to imply they were hum-alongs… rather than point out the same melody can be enjoyed with or without voice — for example playing La Vie en Rose on the piano would be banned if words AND proper interpretation are vital … but wait– doesn’t the addition of exotic voice with or without understanding provide a fuller bouquet than playing the same song on the piano with no voice … unless the mere misdeed of improper interpretation is somehow repulsive and better deleted?

      • @CJ

        Oh those diminished chords — both on the way up and down the scale — like orchids scattered through a flower garden ringing in my ears on the way to bed thanking life’s offerings like you completing a fulfilling day with not only this but the aria treasure as well…could I really be worthy of such extravagance

    • They work better as pieces for Solo Piano aka just piano.

      La Vie en Rose is a French Cabaret Song. Of course one can arrange it for solo piano, but that isn’t the point.

      Personally, give me Piaf any day!

  • Thanks CJ

    My heart glows when presented with a diminished chord by ears seeking them and there are a few in this rendition… it would probably also be a treat — your suggestion of the arias a la piano — but I wouldn’t know where to look for a best rendition.

      • @richard Too many times Liszt’s paraphrase of the quartet from Rigoletto is played like a sterile virtuoso display. Cziffra manages however to depict the emotions of each character: the despair of Gilda, the murderous frustration of her father, the contemptuous mirth of Maddelena and the oily seductiveness of the Duke. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NRcAr0RvkQ

        • CJ,

          INDEED— the meaning pours forth and the enhancement with those trills and runs at the top — ARE YOU KIDDING — this quicky-vacation-intellectual-orgy-in-the-cloud — provided by Norman of course … such unlimited thanks to all and now I’m ready to get back to work — in itself having great meaning.

  • she was good no she was very she bourght tears to my eyes so please leave her to do what she .When or if she comes to England I will go to see her SHE IS JUST GREAT

    Well done young Lady bob

  • @CJ

    You must understand diminished chords more technically than I appreciating them for their contrast of gloom and joy — a brief vigorous thunderstorm in the midst of the most brilliant day of sunshine — a spice on top of the plainest stew … affecting me more than most I wonder and would value your take as one with piano proficiency and also are they created cadenza-like at the whim of a given performer.

    Cziffra is a treasure to know — many thanks.

    Valentina Igoshina offers a most loving soft version of Chopin’s Etude 3 Opus 10 … I’ll try to find it — just did:

    http://youtu.be/yrD1ZaNwdsU

    • @Richard, it would take too much time and space here to recall my own evolving views on Chopin and right now the jury is out because I haven’t yet assimilated what I know now to apply pieces I played decades ago. I would have to rework them completely. Like most musicians and listeners, I was first seduced by his beautiful melodies. As a songsmith, he is equal to Schubert though not as prolific, also differing in his treatment of material. Schubert could actually forge full length symphonies on developing motives. Whereas, Chopin many times repeats the same material or juxtaposes them in different keys as seen in the Ballades and Fantasie. Here we have a rather straightforward ABA as most of the etudes.

      It takes quite a lot of musical maturity to decode the sharp edges of the chromatic middle part of this etude. (Believe it or not, one of the local Russian teachers managed to drill this piece into an 11 year old. This impresses me as much as kids singing ND.) What relation does it have to the rest of the piece? (A question a kid can’t answer.) This explosion is very much like the cubism in the beginning of the 20th century, a revolt against the tonal system but as of yet, without a road map where to take it.

      But whatever the explanation, it works! Sometimes the storm comes before the calm as in the Fantasy Impromptu. The dissolution at the end is quite intriguing, losing the fight to overcome gravity, yet ending in a peaceful, accepting major chord which may be seen as a truce against the opposing forces in this piece.

      • @CJ

        Exploring music’s wondrous intricacies is mildly mesmerizing as if blanketed with a primal glow akin to what earliest humans felt viewing God’s great art in morning and evening sky displays followed in time by graduating to the first objects used musically that might have been the very same clubs used for conflict or meat gathering turned to drum sticks by simply beating a hollow log for rhythms that flowed through the night air so many thousands and thousands of years past.

        Whatever the process gifting us today with culture accumulated so nicely we have it absolutely and it can bless us through our lives’ times where we maintain awareness sufficient to respond.

        As for Chopin when it comes to criticism the only comment impressing me I heard years ago concerning the second piano concerto being so deficient in orchestral accompaniment but that was his choice and a way of emphasizing the instrument he so loved with which he created so abundantly … the slightly negative aspect of the concerto is that he did not discover Constantia Gladkowska until just before he started composing the second movement which leaves us with the first movement extended rather dryly without that immortal inspiration.

        The third etude with that vigorous section you described in fine technical detail and eventually deleted when turned into a popular song performed beautifully by Jo Stafford (on youtube) in the early fifties served as my favorite song shared with my high school sweetheart as “our song”… not to be easily forgotten to this day.

  • @Joanna

    There are possibly some girls reaching 18 discovering they were glorifying prostitution at age 10 who would laugh it off since it’s all in the name of culture but if it’s all that bad to sing in ignorance how much worse is it then to listen to flagrant fairy tales full of violence KNOWING THEIR MEANING– aren’t you going to ban that practice?

    • Richard, Why don’t you and the rest of you guys admit it, in particular those who make pilgrimages to every concert, the chief attraction to these little singers is the child-woman phenomenon? What gets to me, is that you all as a rule don’t notice or appreciate what may be actually or potentially good about them. I have 13 year old students who don’t dress like Jackie in the above Music of the Night in the name of “culture”- what claptrap!

    • I notice the two people who have commented are both men. Is it something in the male psyche (or at least in the psyche of some men) where there is a complete failure to understand the harm that can be done to young women?

      I’m not about to go singing Ethel Smyth, or burn my bra, or go all ultra-feminist on this one. That would not be me. I am the mother of boys and I would not want them to view women as sexual objects – they are people complete with feelings, emotion, and needs (as indeed are men).

      What perverted logic believes it is “cute” to view children singing things that deal with adult emotions. I sing Caro Nome, but vocal considerations aside, would feel uncomfortable with a child under the age of consent singing this Aria because of what happens in the Opera to Guilda herself. (Co-incidentely, I have similar views about La Donna e mobile due to the character of the Duke of Mantua and how his misogyny plays out in the drama of Rigoletto.)

      That Mike Earles “in the name of culture” is comfortable with the idea of girl-women (to paraphrase Cabbage Juce) singing something like “Ah forse lui” when Violetta is a Courtesan, or O Mio Babbino Caro, when Lauretta is threatening suicide if her father does not let her Marry – (“Mi struggo e mi tormento!

      O Dio, vorrei morir!” My Struggle and My Torment! O God I’d rather die! – that is what the lyrics actually say) is ludicrous.

      As I said before, “Pig wearing lipstick”.

  • @CJ

    Your relentless casting of the spider web of sexual intrigue incriminating all men recognizing youthful achievement is redundantly threatening that web with destructive tearing forces and you and Joanna need to look at content of fairy tales to see something worse than the “awful” song lyrics under discussion (you ignored this parallel and will apparently continue to do so).

    And what is sex anyway but a biological tool promoting a race repeatedly warned by our earth host to trim our numbers and reduce our damaging footprint by simply having less sex in the first place.

    And speaking of lyrics sung by non-comprehending performers reminds me of learning the Korean language in the process of spending time there with an Air Force top secret snooping mission involving intercepting all Communist military communications with airborne radio equipment in order to predict another invasion possibility in 1956 … a mission we were kept from revealing by a forty-year secrecy agreement ending in 1997.

    Every evening after a day of flying over the Yellow Sea with ground radar directing a triangular pathway for pilots to follow (Communist imposters would butt in and try giving us wrong headings to bring us into their air space with capture as a result and to counter their effort we would ask an embarrassing question like “did you get laid last night” –which they wouldn’t understand — and were subsequently ignored) while technicians in the passenger area sat with the highest-tech radio and tape recording equipment to gather and subsequently analyze collected info … there was me at night in the officer’s club visiting with friendly Korean bartenders and waitresses all flattered with my interest in learning their language in the midst of nothing better to do and in a year I had the alphabet — by far the world’s simplest and most phonetic ( a separate symbol for EVERY vowel sound) — completely fluent along with the pronunciation enabling me to read-write-speak it fluently all the while not knowing what any of it meant aside from the usual how are you — goodbye — thanks — and of course airplane (pihengi).

    To this day I’m equally fluent as then and still have no vocabulary but I can surely impress anyone from Korea by spelling his/her name precisely … interestingly similar to what these controversial performers are doing… I even learned to sing the beautiful folk song Arirang without knowing the meaning (could it have been sexual?).

    • @ Richard: Getting children to perform music they are not physically, mentally or psychologically suited to is Child Abuse.

      I’m not prepared to live in a totalitarian state. I’m too much of a libertarian for that. However, I will speak out for the vulnerable.

      Your mind may be on some warped planet where Children singing a song where the singer threatens to “throw themself into the Arno if they are not allowed to get married” – Yes this is the gist of “O Mio Babbino Caro is cutsey and pretty. I find it very distasteful. Yet as an adult who has seen Gianni Schicci, and both sings and teaches this aria (where appropriate) I don’t like it.

      Putting everyone in gaol who is ignorant of the subject matter of this Aria is going-over-the-top. Appealing to their moral compass is not.

      • Joanna,

        What you find distasteful is something others find dramatically romantic and a theme repeated many times over in culture whether song lyrics or literature … you’re beating a dead pig wearing black lipstick appropriate for the occasion.

        Choosing an end to life without the blessing of love is simply ending sooner the horrible depression to ensue if love is stolen away … to be human is to need love at any price (and it is only a THREAT in the aria).

        You have to pick a better Brooklyn bridge to sell than what you’re pawning off presently.

      • @Joanna

        Child abuse? Since Amira did her self-teaching independently you would categorize that as suicide?

    • Oh and Richard… I know that Grimms fairy tales are actually quite grim, but they normally have a moral somewhere. Gianni Schicci is a farce -quite an adult one if you care to read the plot, and the only moral is “don’t get hoodwinked by Gianni Schicci. Even Rumplestiltskin has more moral fibre to it than that.

      • Surely a moral somewhere … and exactly how and where is a child traumatized by the horrific thought of being devoured by a monster supposed to find that moral when hiding under the bed hoping for an assault rifle from the benevolent fairy introduced late in the story.

  • I just discovered this thread which is why I didn’t jump into the fray earlier. I wouldn’t have jumped in at all since the subject is about Amira Willenhagen but when I came across CJ’s first entry where she immediately changed the subject to her seeming need to bash Jackie Evancho, I had to respond. First of all, in reference to the allegation that JE’s ticket sales are dropping, I don’t know where her information is coming from, but I have attended five of her recent concerts in the last year and I didn’t see any evidence of dropping ticket sales as all of the concerts I attended were either total or near sellouts. Again, she uses You tube clips to emphasize her points, and the ones she refers to are amateurish attempts by fans using small hand held devices. The La Vie En Rose clip is professionally recorded and therefore indicative of the steady progress she is making. This short performance in the studio as well as some of the recent performances I have attend lead my untrained ear to believe that she might be destined to be a Contralto. Compare her LVER to Karen Carpenters version of “Don’t cry for me Argentina”, which is available on You Tube. I agree with the comments that the nine year old miss Willighagen is being pushed into Operatic arias way too soon.

  • I just discovered this thread or I would have jumped into the fray sooner. I wouldn’t have jumped in at all since the subject is Miss Willighagen, but when I observed that CJ took the opportunity to use this thread to continue her bashing of Jackie Evancho, I couldn’t resist. First of all, I’d like to know where her information that JE’s ticket sales are dropping is coming from. I have attended five of her concerts in the last year and all were total, or near total sellouts. The only recent video on You Tube that is indicative of how she has progressed is her short rendition of La Vie En Rose which is professionally recorded. This recording as well as the recent concerts I have attended lead my untrained ear to suspect that she might be destined to be a Contralto. As evidence I compare her LVER to Karen Carpenters version of “Don’t cry for me Argentina”, which is available on You Tube.

    • Jeff,

      Jackie’s ticket sales are pretty much based on demographics rather than her repertoire. Her concert in May or June I believe is already sold out.

      CJ and company want to make 4 cancelled concerts sound as if it was the end of her career. That’s 4 concerts cancelled for a total of 80+ concerts in 3.5 years.

  • @Jeff On this thread Jackie Evancho had been cited 10 times before my 4th post of March 16th. Attendance AFIK for her concerts hover around 70%. Less than that, there is the possibility of cancellation as in Loveland and Fresno last year.

    Fans bemoan the lack of PR as a possible cause but more than that the choices that were made for her, to continue the same repertoire for more than a year done in the same style have a lot to do with not attracting new listeners, painting her into a corner as it were. Her Vie en Rose is not breaking new ground with its obvious similarities to Celine Dion’s original take on it. She’s not a contralto, forget about it. Just listen to her speaking voice. There is definitely a correlation between Amira and the other copiers of youtube videos to launch a career.

    • CJ,

      “There is definitely a correlation between Amira and the other copiers of youtube videos to launch a career.”

      In Jackie’s case , one might add, a very successful career so far, regardless of the “copying and imitating” perceptions of a few.

      Despite slagging sales of tickets, a new album and a third PBS special seems to be in the works.

      • As for “slagging sales of tickets” admitted by fans, maybe copying has a limit that listeners even subconsciously, get tired of hearing? That is, cherry-picking and choosing “Interpretations” from other singers, then copying oneself over and over again in the same repertoire and style? This “system” might work briefly for cute kids like Amira, but the usefulness wears thin together with the novelty factor. Again, there is no vocal or technical basis patiently built up. Until that happens, none of them have the right to present themselves as original.

        • CJ,

          Maybe you didn’t consider that when a 12 year old does a series of concerts for 1.5 years with the same repertoire, its eventually going to compromise sales to some extent. Happens all the time. But she oontinues to perform and make money and obviously, as far as we can tell, thoroughly enjoy herself in the process.

          The system has worked for here for over 3 years without fail and considering she is about to launch another album and PBS tour (a third special in 3 years) , anyone with half a brain would say she is doing extremely well.

          What rights they have to present what they want, isn’t up to you to decide nor, thankfully, can you influence that at this point.

        • @Mike Citing commercial success is a strange twist of argument coming from those who wrote long laundry lists of the girl having sung for the president, Japanese Royal family, aside Sumi Jo and Tony Bennett, etc., etc., racking up probably about 3 million $’s to date with a fee comparable to the most marketable opera singers who earn 100K for appearances.

          All this was much too early. But who knows, maybe the cultivated name recognition may account for something in the future?

          • Joanna,

            What about the whole person??? You have no idea how the Evanchos lead their lives and are only making conclusions based on suppositions and your knowledge about voice. That knowledge alone is not enough to make a judgement on the emotional well being of anyone let alone a 13 year old.

        • Mike,

          If you look at Jackie’s career so far and what she’s accomplished it speaks both of artistic and commercial success …. at the age of 13.

      • Well some facts are known about family life: that they live in a gated community, travel on private jet and bankruptcy was filed in 2008 by the father. What I find fascinating is there is no admitted consistent vocal coach or teacher. Are we still supposed believe interpretation comes from the angels or from channeling spirits?

        BTW, as Janus noted above regarding the 80+ concerts done by JE over 3.5 years: “Netherlands children are protected quite well against child labour and are only allowed to perform 12 times a year. Even bigger TV interviews already count as a performance.”

        I detect not familial innocence so much as a well developed, astute business and marketing sense.

        • CJ,

          Yes the family is purported to live in a gated community and Lisa, Jackie and her brother flew in a charted plane once when she went to Washington to perform for President Obama and dignitaries for the National Prayer . So what does that have to do with anything ?

          Jackie recently disclosed that she consults with top vocal coaches and doctors. She has not released any names. Her prerogative ! In case you missed this (I don’t know why you would) the industry experts have always referred to Jackie as an interpretive genius. So you can conclude that the interpretation you speak of, comes from her head. I have no idea why you would think it comes from angels or channeling spirits.

          The astute business and marketing sense developed over 3 years and there are many fans who would disagree with you regarding the Evanchos marketing strategies. In other words, there are fans who are very critical of the Evanchos business and marketing sense. Not all fans, just some!

          Jackie is slowly but surely well past the age of being a little child and is already in her teens. She doesn’t live in the Netherlands so the laws don’t apply to her. Her schedule as compared to adults is still very light. 20 to 22 concerts per year.

          • @AJ I am willing to credit the current kiddie stars with pretty voices and engaging personalities but NOT interpretation, let alone genius. At least Amira admits she learned opera from youtube.

            Sorry, the list is too long for all the peculiar similarities between Jackie’s performances and Brightman, Jones, Church, Westenra, Streisand, Battle, Andrews, and the latest, Dion in Vie en Rose, which includes facial expressions and arm movements.

            All I say is be honest, like Amira is, about it.

            And two concerts per month besides preparation of repertoire, rehearsals, travel, TV interviews, fittings, etc., are not small potatoes.

          • CJ,

            How much of an overload do you consider Danielle Bradbury’s eleven concerts in April to be — seems like something to be outside the law for a seventeen-year-old.

          • Wow, what a difference 5 years make between the age of 12 and 17! If the older one has most of her education under her belt, is settled in her vocal technique, and is nearing the age of consent, then it really isn’t my business or concern. She is also not supporting her family, but herself I presume.

          • CJ,

            Sorry but you’re living in the past. Jackie is no longer a kiddie star with a cute voice. She never had a cute voice. Almost anyone who heard her described her voice as unique and very beautiful to hear. It is of no consequence to fans or non fans alike whether a few critics don’t consider her an interpretive genius :-). Doesn’t change a thing as far as her career is concerned and as far as her listening public is concerned.

            I am not sure exactly what it is you want her to do. Do you want her to announce before every performannce that she is copying or imitating someone else. Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds ! In Jackie’s ealier interviews she said that she learned songs by watching Phantom of the Opera and practised by singing around the house. What else do you expect her to say?

            Who cares whether other singers sound like each other or whether Jackie sounds similar to others. So what? It still doesn’t change a thing !

            Jackie is beyond the scope of small potatoes at this point in time. She’s a professional artist who commands a very competitive fee for her performances and appearances. There is nothing to scoff at about her performance fees. 🙂 And, I am glad to say that she still appears to be in demand. Her latest is an appearance again on Memoral Day coming up.

          • It’s really funny reading that Jackie is no more a kiddie star when her fans constantly pipe up, “how dare you criticise a little girl?” Read what I said, “pretty voice” not “cute”.

            As far as timbre is concerned, I don’t believe it is natural. This would be hard to prove to those who don’t work with voices everyday but 7 year old Angelina Jordan has popped up just in time with her incredible imitation of Billie Holiday.

            It matters a lot if kids are imitating for two reasons. First, they are not developing their own voices and styles. Second, it is not honest to copy the work of others without giving credit. Fans were saying back then the source of this extraordinary talent appearing only once or twice in a century was unearthly, when it would have been simpler to run a few youtube videos and see where it all came from.

          • CJ,

            Its funny that you seem to dwell in the past. I haven’t seen any recent comments (past six months to a year) ostracizing you or any other critic for criticizing a little girl. Thats a thing of the past. Time to get over it ! Most people have. You should too.

            You need to read what I wrote. People don’t call her voice cute or pretty. They usually refer to it as gorgeous, unbelievable, out of this world, otherworldly, beyond belief …. take your pick 🙂

            As far as timbre…. you might as well be talking about trees or a forest for most of her fans and the general public. Angelina Jordan is very talented but not my cup of tea. She is exeptional but doesn’t appeal to me …. most kids voices don’t….and she still sounds like a kid albeit a very very talented one.

            I hate to burst your bubble but the reality is that fans and non fans alike still think Jackie’s talent only appears once or twice a century. I haven’t seen one like her in half a century and don’t expect to see one until I pass. I’ve run a lot of you tube vidoes and still believe the same I did when I first discovered Jackie … there’s no one like her …. and I’m not the only one who thinks that.

          • I’m sorry, when singers in their 20s are still “young singers” effectively taking baby steps 13-14 is still child territory.

            Her voice is hitting female transition. All the evidence says sing during transition, but what it does not say (in fact it says to guard against. is making too adult a sound too early). Whether it is Lynne Gackle, Jenevora Williams or Jeremy Fisher whose wisdom is sought, that is agreed.

            Singing teachers use their ears, the expertise and experience to ascertain whether a young voice is comfortable singing certain material. They also rely on the good scholarship of others to keep them informed. When dealing with Cambiata voices be they male or female voices, most teachers are guarded and take care to stick to the comfort zone. I’ve heard recent examples of Miss Evancho singing where her voice does not sound comfortable. Yet criticise the Evancho’s or voice my concerns about Amira, and the kindest thing people say is “must be sour grapes” and the average comment makes it look like I’ve signed a Faustian pact.

            Get real! There are no sour grapes, and I’ve not entered into a pact with the devil. I’m simply concerned about young singers and their exploitation by adults.

          • Joanna,

            Singers in their teens may be child territory from a technical perspective but thats not what I was referring to.

            There are any number of people, experts and otherwise, who will tell you that Jackie’s voice is doing just fine. So for people like us (the unwashed masses that get to enjoy her music) we’ll let you sweat it out and figure it all out with those who don’t agree with you.

            Actuallly, like CJ, you tend to get fixiated on the technical aspect. So busy finding the tree you missed the forest :-)…. so busy finding the flaws in the voice that you missed the performance.

            What you say about Jackie’s voice, the critics (the few that are left) have been saying since 2010. Yet to those who actually buy her CDs and attend her concerts her voice continues to grow in beauty and her richness of tone remains unmatched.

  • I note, that it is the people whom I would refer to as the usual suspects in the “pro Jackie Evancho camp” who compared Amira to Jackie first and CJ was simply responding.

    As far as the content of song issue is concerned, I am going to completely disregard anything Mike Earles or Richard Carlisle state on this matter from now on. I believe they are simply stating their opinions in order to be contraversial. I’ve made my case, and I’m not interested in feeding trolls.

    • Yes, I was being controversial because I see just how far off the track you are in your petty mindedness. So far as trolls are concerned, it take one to know one. For all your claim to fancy diplomas and degrees your so-called education did not do much for your openness of mind, progress and real respect of the classics.

      • Mike:

        And you didn’t mention her posing as a paragon of morality. She would have been good as head of the Inquisition.

        And this morality, the same that wanted to bowdlerize Shxpr, seems to me to be loaded with Victorian values, all taken from the dogmas of the Christian churches of the 19th c.

        I was thinking all this while, how lucky Mozart was, when he wrote his opera of love, jealousy and passion at 11 years, La Finta Semplice, (550 pages of musical notations), not to have among his family’s circle a Spanish dueña with the same obsessions.

        Even if Mozart had not experienced the fires of sexual passion, he knew how it sounded like, and for him, the trick, as an 11-year old composer, was to imitate that sound, with his own variations, of course.

        Amira was not forced by anybody to learn opera songs. She did it on her own, because she loved the sound and music of them. She admitted it very openly, and when she chose models for her auditions, she chose Callas and Pavarotti. That was her spontaneous choice. So, at least, this marks a good sense for musicality, and practical intelligence.

        That young people learn by imitation is absolutely certain. They learn language this way. And in art, everybody does it, at some point in life.

  • Having exhausted a slew of arguments of dishwater quality all that’s left is a predictably desperate troll accusation.

  • This will go over the heads of certain people but it needs to be said. Protection of the innocence of children is a hallmark of high culture, any culture for that matter. This ties in with deferment of gratification which is regarded as beneficial to society, to channel otherwise sexual energies into accumulation of knowledge and skills. This means that teenage pregnancies will be not be devoutly desired (despite all the sex ed that seem to promote rather than diminish it) that result in effect, children bearing children.

    There is also the cultivation of virtue and all the nice things that come with it – modesty, the charm of a certain amount of chivalry that shows a respect for womanhood rather than regarding females as sex objects or baby making machines. Anything that sings or dances is not necessarily “culture”. Openness of mind doesn’t mean dismantling the moral pillars of society. True education ties all these seemingly disparate pieces together.

    • CJ

      You’ve tired of discussing how to protect children’s vocal chords and now are pursuing the optimal path for uterus protection — sure, why not be comprehensive as possible … but before you eliminate pregnancies it might behoove us all to predict just who-when-how is going to manage the nursing homes — until and unless the “Do it yourself” approach is perfected to resemble some sort of coin-operated bed pan or bed-making procedure designed for trained monkeys to manage with a fair degree of efficiency.

      Children of unwed parents may seem problematic but in time may be ultimate problem solvers depending upon prevailing conditions.

      “True education” seems hardly defined in manner or method — a pointless projectile in a debate that seeks substance.

      Sad how awfully few great ideas result in even a trivial corrective result … or is that the real test of an idea that only seems great.

      • richardcarlisle:

        “You’ve tired of discussing how to protect children’s vocal chords and now are pursuing the optimal path for uterus protection”

        Touché! Truly hilarious.

  • Cabbagejuice OK, I concede your first point. I would still like to know where your 70% ticket sales info is coming from? AFIK is not a source. She must be more popular in California and Nevada than other parts of the country because I have attended all but one of her concerts in these two states and have seen nothing but packed, or nearly packed houses. I’m just saying…

  • Since Mr. Lebrecht apparently does not want me sparring with other posters on his site, I’ll try a different tack. most songs are the combination of the composers music and the lyricists words. Sometimes the composer and lyricist are the same person. When two people sing the same words to the same notes, without improvisation, and they end up sounding similar, why does one singer have to be accused of copying the other?

    • @Jeff This should give you some idea as to how ticket sales are progressing. Apparently, the recent Loma Linda benefit was not near 3/4 full (similar to Lewiston), albeit a much bigger hall and tickets having been sold in blocks for charity. http://s209.photobucket.com/user/mistermellow001/media/JMEseatssoldasof11-15-13_zpscd323f23.png.html

      The intimations of copying are seen in the details. I wouldn’t like for someone to copy actual notes, gestures, phrasing, etc. of something I worked to achieve, and certainly not without giving me credit for it. I’m not going to repeat what I already said about this. The new sensation on the block Angelina Jordan shows how well a 7 years old can imitate. Imitiation is not interpretation and should not be given credit as such.

  • If we are to be so cautious as to keep children who desire independently to do something as “damaging” as singing then what about school sports with endless minor and major injuries … are we considering bodily injury less than a temporarily course voice — some priority spectrum — children deserve better than such logic.

    All that comes from this discussion is the need for an international law prohibiting children from singing unless carefully coached by a professional … no suggestion concerning where to find sufficient money or sufficient coaches if every child wanting to sing is thus mandated……….. HOW ABOUT A BREAK!

    Look on youtube for Danielle Bradbury who is also self-taught and FANTASTIC — last year winner of The Voice at age 16.

    • @richard Many country singers are self-taught, so what? The subject of this thread is 9 year olds singing opera. This is highly risky to developing voices.

      I knew what I wrote about culture as going over your head as your response was unsurprisingly crude. Extending maturity past puberty multiplies possibilities for young people instead of being stuck in having to raise families from the biological time they can reproduce. With all the liberalism claiming to free women, it has diminished them instead, stripping mystery away and chivalry lost forever. Too bad for both sexes.

      • CJ,

        Though my crudeness and your short-sightedness may be running neck-and-neck we couldn’t agree more on the tragic topic of the women’s lib train wreck favoring as it does testosterone-intoxicated female business go-getters while demeaning efforts of the women who really count — entrusted with the crucial task of creating and nourishing and properly forming future citizens.

  • Richard you quite rightly raise the issue of schools sports. In my experience, there is much more done in the way of risk-assessment when it comes to schools sports than happens with the public exposure and promotion of young singers.

    This is not to say that there will be no injuries. Sports such as rugby, Association Football, and Hockey have intrinsic risks associated with them, and for the sake of a greater good i.e the overall fitness of children, they are promoted in schools. Yet there are bound to be accidents at some point, and having had my own son break his arm jumping off a climbing-frame, I know it is distressing to all those involved when they occur.

    With singing if a similar risk-assessment is put in place, the stakes are much lower. No-one can do anything about those who refuse to be tutored and go on the self-taught route within a libertarian society. Yet as soon as so-called responsible adults are involved, then the onus is to protect from potential harm, and there is real potential (as I’ve already stated).

    Work done needs to respect the physical limits of the individual concerned (especially if they are a child). Care needs to be taken when selecting repertoire that the content is age appropriate, and that even when singing in a foreign language that individual (or their parent/guardian) is comfortable with its content. Material that is overtly “adult” – of which there is much (even when this adult content is disguised in metaphor) should not be given to people below the age of consent (16 in the UK).

    Singers, on the whole use words, and often project character. Even when singing excerpts from larger works, that character is important. There is the need to “get into their head” and some of the characters portrayed in song are pretty unsavory or have unsavory aspects to them. A great deal of sympathy with the emotional needs of your singer is necessary when allocating repertoire.

    There are plenty of beautiful songs that are very suitable for children to sing without the need to touch those that are more appropriate later in life. We have classification of Films and of Computer Games. Whilst I would not want such a blunt instrument used for song, a common-sense approach along those lines carried out by singing teachers, producers and promoters is sensible.

    I would like the whole area of singing teaching to be smartened up. There is a common misconception that simply because a person is musical they can teach singing. They can’t unless they have additional training. This can be done in the wider education sector through programmes of Continuing Professional Development, and therefore although there will be a financial cost, it need not be as high as buying in specialist help to do all the teaching, simply to train those already attempting the job.

    Sports Coaches do receive extra training. Those deemed fit to educate our children are bright enough and want to do the best job they can, so are nearly always keen to take on additional training and listen to those with specific skills.

    Personally when I do share my knowledge with those working in the field, they find it informative, helpful and thought provoking. They often raise interesting questions, that need to be dealt with. Everyone benefits, most importantly the children.

    I loved singing as a child and was un-taught until 14. From the age of 11 onwards I regularly got sore throats when I did a lot of performing. By teaching age-appropriate techniques and good habits, sore-throats due to over-singing rather than Upper-respiritory infections can be almost entirely illiminated. That has to be good. In the same way that through good sports training the only injuries that need occur should be those that happen through genuine misfortune and not negligence or ignorance.

    • Joanna,

      A surprising thoroughly thoughtful and thought-provoking fully compassionate dissertation long awaited and much appreciated … far beyond what I could have expected or hoped for from you seemingly switching from bias drenched to rich in wisdom.

      Words to cap off an interesting discussion persisting for years now… cases rested and at peace.

      Respectfully,

      Richard

      • Thanks!

        You have to realise Richard I’m motivated out of a passion for what I do, and because I’m a mum. I care about those working within the school system, and I’m pragmatic enough to realise that there are always going to be people who self-educate.

        My bias, if indeed there was, came from my training and background and from having to do these risk assessments and consider “the whole child”. If there were a way we could all have our cake and eat it, then that would be great, but life doesn’t quite work like that.

        • Ah Joanna — a series of compromises — life’s ongoing challenge and consider what an art it is to manage our compromises with dignity.

  • I am not an Opera fan but this young lady has phenomenal talent, especially for a nine year old. Listened to it twice. 🙂

    • I have done. I have also listened to the recording of her voice made of Holland’s got Talent, and made my concerns known to music teacher in her locality.

      I’m not getting at her talent, rather I want to preserve any talent she has so that it can be used for life and not simply whilst she is a “cute kid”.

      I can’t fault her desire to sing at that age having had a similar desire.

      Where we are different Phil, is you state you are “Not an Opera fan” and I’m a singing teacher with specific interest in childrens voices. This means I’ve done all the study into what children at Amira’s age can and should be doing. What she is doing on this record falls outside “Good Practice” and “good Practice” is there to protect children from themselves and any unscrupulous music producers.

      I’ve said that there are many beautiful songs suitable for children of Amira’s age to sing. There are also age appropriate techniques and other bits of suitable guidance that can be given to one so young.

      Amira has been self-taught. That is fine, and is typical of most young of her age. Where I have a problem is that in selecting this particular song list and in producing the record adults have been involved who should know better. As adults we have to be very careful how we influence and mentor children. Children are much more vulnerable to exploitation than most adults. Children need to be nurtured in a way that allows them to be children yet prepares them for adulthood. That does not mean don’t produce a record or make professional appearances, but it does mean that those who involved in the organisation and promotion of someone like Amira have to be mindful of the ‘whole Amira’ and not just ‘Amira the cute kid with the big voice’.

      • I can barely read this homily.

        I am flabbergaste by the flawed thinking.

        An ordinary mind establishing ordinary rules for ordinary children.

        This has nothing to do with out-of-the-norm children,with out-of-the-norm minds, out-of-the-norm personalities, and out-of-the-norm voices and talents.

        There’s a distribution curve with most members of a population in the more or less flattened mid-section of the curve, and exceptional members at the far ends of the curve. Exceptionally gifted at the upper right-end of the distribution curve, exceptionally inept at the upper left-hand of the curve.

        What applies to ordinary people in the center does not apply to the exceptionally gifted ones at the far end. There are generous people who attend to the needs of the exceptionally inept.

        There are schools for talented youngsters. There are competitions to locate and identify exceptional talents. Many great singers were discovered this way.

        All this preaching about saving ordinary kids, “even” if worth paying attention to, has no relevance to super-gifted children.

        It is strange to see a paragon of morality erecting herself as the would-be “Protector” of “the ‘whole Amira”.

        I guess that Amira does not need this kind of protection. Amira herself is more “mindful of the whole Amira”, and her parents as well, than any would-be sideline coach.

        This outlook seems so outdated, reeking as it does of 19th c. Victorian morality, all imbued of dogmatic Christian values, all old-fashioned and belonging to a forgotten past (forgotten, obviously, not by everybody).

        Amira will do just fine without these admonitions.

        All the present moaning and whining, and wringing of hands about the dangers threatening her at every turn of her life, by do-gooder preachers of doom is not going to have any effect on her voice and her future.

        She’ll learn much more by listening to the advice of Gruberova, Kiri Te Kanawa, Netrebko, or Pavarotti — all singers who went the route Amira is ambitioning to follow. And by being instructed by world-class singing teachers in Holland, Germany, London and New York.

        • Rob: do some reading about vocal technique and how it applies to children. Then you’ll realise this is not the same scenario as the violin progedy, or the super-gifted nuclear physicist aged 10.

          The problem with the super-gifted is that they tend to have gifts that don’t compute with their chronological age, yet in reality that is what they still are on an emotional level. The best of mentors allow the talent to develop yet keep the kid grounded.

          One of the things that had impressed me with Amira (until the record companies got involved) was how grounded she was. AS I’d stated my problem was with the “do-gooder adults” who should know better rather than with her family.

          Now I get some garbage about the “super-gifted” and not understanding them… I live 10 miles from Cambridge, I’ve met some pretty amazing kids.

  • Cabbagejuice

    I attended the charity event for Loma Linda Children’s Hospital last month. Since it was a charity event, only previous donors and supporters knew about it. There was no publicity at all (not even on JE’s website). I found out about it on another blog. The venue was a 10,000 seat Hockey arena, including dinner tables for twelve on the arena floor. I seriously doubt that most of the attendees had ever heard of Jackie Evancho based on many conversations I heard prior to the concert. I would estimate that there were about 5,000 people in attendance which isn’t close to 3/4 full. I hardly think that this is indicative of your imagined “dropping popularity”! .

  • Jeff 5,000/10,000 equals 1/2. Correct it isn’t near 3/4 it is 1/2.

    “I seriously doubt that most of the attendees had ever heard of Jackie Evancho – that’s right they were there as they wanted to raise money for the Children’s Hospital.

    The best you can say is it impossible to tell what is happening to Jackie Evancho’s popularity from this event. However, hypothetically speaking, if they had hired another singer and the event had sold out, one might ascertain that Jackie Evancho is not good box office anymore. One can’t be more positive if the other parametres, publicity or lack of remained the same.

    Had a survey been done of the patrons/ and donors that failed to attend after the event, one might get a truer picture. Otherwise with c 50% house and only the donors and patrons being invited it is impossible to raise any sensible conclusions about Jackie Evancho’s popularity positive or negative.

  • Joanna Debenham,

    You are absolutely spot on with your conclusion that it is impossible to raise sensible conclusions about JE’s popularity based on this event. BTW I am well aware that 1/2 is less than 3/4. That was my point in mentioning it.

  • Joanna,

    To further clarify, I was merely pointing out that the 50% turnout was due to the fact that very few, if any, of her fans knew about the concert due to no publicity

  • Amira is great and she sings with passion and I am sure that by now her parents consulted a voice coach, Just like Jackie Evancho’s did Tell me why does the internet bring out every a** h*** in the universe to make put down comments on people they know nothing about she is a lovely child with a beautiful gift from God which gives pleasure to a lot of people. Lets leave it at that.

  • Having read right through this thread, I am more glad than ever before that I did not follow in my father’s footsteps and attempt a musical career. At least engineering is a discipline where one must work with facts, unsubstantiated opinions have no place. In the music business, it is obvious that people do not wish to spoil a story with facts. Hard facts are a little hard to find amidst the welter of blogs on Amira; but one can find some in the posts of Gerald Weg, whom I would thank for his efforts to insert some rationality.

    What has become evident since the start of this thread, is that Amira’s parents did NOT and are NOT seeking to exploit her for financial gain. She badgered them to allow her to try HGT because she wanted an independent assessment of whether or not she had sufficient talent to make pursuing singing worth-while; and she was every bit as surprised at the outcome as everybody else. As she herself said, she would like to be a singer when she was older. So it was the media that branded her as an opera singer, not Amira, or her parents. I think Amira’s parents are to be greatly congratulated; and also Holland seems to be a rather more civilised place to raise children than many other parts of the World. (I’m writing from Australia)

    It seems that part of the definition of an “Opera singer” is the ability to shake the spiders out of the ceiling by one’s unassisted voice alone. It seems to have escaped everybody here that Amira did not have to adjust the position of the microphone, when she strode out for her first audition; it was already correctly set for her diminutive height. There’s a short clip on her website showing the preparations for her performance for the HGT semi-final; it showed the sound crew getting their amplification settings correct for Amira’s (quite low) voice level. The sound crew at HGT are obviously highly competent and did not miss anything. So the media got it totally wrong again, by entitling her as “The little girl with the big voice”. They should have said, “The little girl with the exquisitely beautiful voice”. Amira has made intelligent use of amplification right from the start, and as a result we get to hear the beauty of her voice without her having to bellow. May she continue to do so!

    So, by definition, she is NOT an “Opera singer”; what she does is sing opera songs, without the schmaltz, which is a blessed relief to me, and at a volume that hopefully will protect her voice.

    From what I can discover, nodes on the vocal chords are a consequence of the singer producing more volume than is safe for their vocal apparatus. The problem is apparantly the amplitude (i.e. loudness) of the vibration, not the frequency (pitch) – so long as the frequency lies within the singer’s unstressed range. Listening to Amira’s album, it seems to me that she is singing within her range.

    Those who find her high notes shrill, need to check their sound equipment and/or the bandwidth of their internet signal, I would suggest. I do not find it shrill; it is pure all the way.

    Her breathing, vibrato and rubato all seem to be much more controlled in her album, than they were in her performance at Maastricht; it is obvious now that she can use vibrato when she wants to, and does so to great effect in the album. Whether that is a result of her increased skill in exploiting the available amplification, I can only guess. This was a most noticeable change in the short interval between the final of HGT and the recording of the album, so she is obviously a fast learner. If excess vibrato is a sign of strain, this must please her fans.

    Finally, Amira’s singing has the power to reduce me to tears; and no other singer does that for me. I consider Amira’s gift to the world to be vastly more important than people seem to realise; the bright spots have to be very powerful to balance out the stupidity, violence and bigotry of this World. Bravo, Amira!

    • Well, written Dafyyd. It is now 3 years after Amira’s debut album and her voice is much more excellent. Those self proclaimed experts who forecast Amira’s ruining her voice are in the dust.

      • Thank you! Goodness! What a revision there has been to this thread! Yes, Amira has a delightful way of making those “experts” look like fools; and in fact “Zamyrabryd” (aka “Cabbage Juice”) is still at it, in regard to Amira’s most recent performance (Nessun Dorma 2017). These people are commenting from the basis of experience. Perhaps it’s worth considering some possible reasons why their predictions have not eventuated:

        Firstly, “experience” normally relates to the average of the population – and in terms of the “normal distribution” bell curve, that means the part of the population that lies within one standard deviation of the median – which is, in fact, approximately two thirds of the population. Amira is a prodigy, which means she lies outside that band. Approximately 99% of the population lies within three standard deviations of the median. If 1% of the population had Amira’s capability, there would be several hundred thousand kids just as good as she is. So she is well beyond three standard deviations from the median, and is in fact so far above the average that normal statistical methods become meaningless. It follows that blindly applying “experience” to her case is completely stupid; a prodigy of that magnitude has to be handled from first principles, and NOBODY is an expert. Secondly, there is now hard evidence that she has an “astonishing mastery of resonance” – so that is more than just opinion. That means, resonance in the airspace of her breathing passages, so the power it delivers does not come directly from her vocal cords. This has allowed her to sing demanding operatic works without needing to force her voice. Thirdly, she had learned to breathe from her diaphragm from her cross-country running. So she sang with an open throat from the beginning. It’s been a bit of a race between the increasing demand on her air supply as her voice has become more rich, and the increasing lung capacity from her physical growth, but the square-cube law has finally predominated, and we see her remarkable breath control in the “battle of the longest note” (the Huizen encore, O sole mio) – she held the high note for a full fifteen seconds!

        Fourthly, it is obvious from the documentary of her master class with Miranda van Kralingen that she has a natural vibrato as part of her raw talent, and that she has now full control over it; to see that you need the “Classics is Groot” DVD; in her performance of OMBC there, she shows that she has the ability to slow her vibrato right down, as did Maria Callas. It follows that her vibrato is not an involuntary consequence of excessive stress in her voice (as Zamyrabyrd would have us believe), but rather is the result of her ability to relax her vocal cords whilst holding a note. None of this is my opinion alone; the substantiation is there in her videos, if you look for it.

        Amira has a huge following; her videos are currently accumulating as many views in one day as many singers get in a year. This greatly annoys some people who have spent a lot of time, effort and money to reach a professional standard. One can appreciate their irritation; but trying to pull Amira down by posting ridiculous claims and in some instances, downright untruths, will not change that. C’est la vie.

        • It is now mid 2019, and Amira’s voice has continued to mature and improve. Your posted assessments are completely accurate. She is considered in a league all of her own. Some try to compare her to Jackie Evanko, but they excel each in their own right. With Amira’s You Tube hits exceeding 200 million, she has become a world wide sensation. Recent arias of note are ‘O Solo Mio’ with Patrizio, ‘Amazing Grace’ from Classisc is Groot series, and ‘Gabriella’s Sang’ in Swedish also from Classics is Groot. She is truly gifted.

  • Time for another update: To those who predicted that Amira would lose her voice by the time she was 13 – watch her performance of the Flower Duet from Lakme, with Corlea Botha (just enter “amira flower duet”) – this was from June 24, 2017

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