Katherine Jenkins ‘will sing Carmen’

Katherine Jenkins ‘will sing Carmen’


norman lebrecht

August 03, 2015

It escaped our attention in a busy month that the Welsh mezzo-soprano – popularly described as an opera singer though she has never performed in opera – will sing Carmen next summer at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod.

Or perhaps not.

Ms Jenkins, who is expecting a baby in the autumn, has agreed to sing ‘all the arias from Carmen’ but without the acting or the talky bits in between.

She said: ‘I’m really excited as it something I always wanted to do. I studied Carmen at the Royal Academy of Music before I graduated. It’s special as it was written for a mezzo soprano.

‘I’ve always talked about doing this and it will be the first time fans will be able to hear all the arias in one evening.

‘I do usually include several operatic arias in my concerts but I have never condensed and performed all the arias from a single opera into one concert.’

katherine jenkins horses
Almost a bullfight


  • Flossie says:

    Anna Netrebko’s quote comes to mind; when asked what she thought about the singer she replied with an enthusiastic smile “Nice t-ts”!

  • Stephen says:

    I have never understood how such a poor singer who can’t even sing in tune regularly managed to graduate from the Royal Academy. She is, however, very easy on the eye.

    • Alexander says:

      Yes, it’s strange. There are much better singers out there who have never managed to gain entry to the RAM.

      • Tim Walton says:

        If you check, she didn’t.

        She was at the RCM for a year and I believe she got a teacher’s diploma!!

        Is she doing the Carmen, with or without a microphone stuck in her gob!

        • Tim Walton says:

          Sorry I miss typed – should have read RAM.

          • Ruby says:

            All these nasty comments. I see the opera trolls are out in force! Check your facts…if you go to the website of the RAM, they state: “recent *graduates* who have already made significant impact on the music profession and related media include…chart-topping mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins…” Source: http://www.ram.ac.uk/about-us/about-the-academy/our-alumni

            Listen to her videos/tracks. She can sing in tune and she has a nice classical voice. It seems to always be the opera fans who undermine her abilities and consider her to be subservient. Yet, she has never claimed to be an opera singer and as she clearly states: Carmen “was written for a mezzo soprano.” Give her a break.

        • Alexander says:

          I think it’s untrue that she failed to graduate from the RAM. I am sure that she is an RAM graduate, I’m just not sure how, as she is clearly very popular, but not particularly talented.

          Ruby, why is it relevant that she mentions that the role is for a mezzo?

          • Ruby says:

            I think the statement “not particularly talented” is subjective. Everyone likes different things and what one person may not like another may love. Her albums have topped the charts a number of times, so yes, she’s clearly popular. I think it’s easy for those who don’t like her or who are her perhaps envious that they don’t have her level of fame and success (Anna Netrebko, for example) to make derogatory comments and attribute her popularity to her boobs. Maybe looks and personality (she’s very likeable and wouldn’t be heard making spiteful comments like AN) are part of it, but so may be dedication, commitment and a genuine liking for her music. I think Katherine is saying that the role of Carmen is suitable for her, since she is a Mezzo Soprano.

          • Donna Josephson says:

            This reply is actually for Rubyl So Katherine Jenkins is a nice person who isn’t spiteful??? Perhaps you’re not acquainted with the nasty remarks she makes about opera people…and all just because she has been denied entre to the world of opera. She labels all opera singers as fat and ugly, the subtext being that she, herself, is too beautiful for opera. She also whines about how she is bringing opera to a wider audience, even though this is not true, as most classical crossover fans would rather boil in oil than attend a full opera in an opera house.

            Also, just because a singer is a mezzo-soprano, is not a reason for Carmen to be a suitable role for that singer. Carmen is a suitable role for a real, operatic mezzo-soprano, not a popera mezzo who sings with terrible technique and can’t be heard without a microphone.

    • Fabio Roial says:

      There was a cellist/harpist by the same name who auditioned at RAM at the same time. Alas the acceptance letter was sent to the wrong KJ and the rest is history, as they say… true story.

      • kitty says:

        Ruby – first of all mezzo soprano is just a type of the voice, and it’s not even clear that Jenkins is a mezzo soprano. Nobody have ever heard any good low notes from her. As Steve Silverman mentioned, her voice sounds to many like a light soprano that she artificially manipulates to produce “plummy” sound that harms her singing.

        Sure, she tried some arias from Carmen, but she’d never hear her attempt something like card scene or the final scene. She simply doesn’t have the voice or technique for opera. She can sing a few arias with a mic – badly, but this is it. She’d never get through the card scene in Carmen or the final scene, and she’s never even tried it.

        • Ruby says:

          Yes, Katherine Jenkins is a classical crossover singer and not an opera singer. Therefore technically speaking there may be people that could sing Carmen better than her. However if the venue want her and it fulfills a personal dream then why shouldn’t she do it? It is up to the individual whether or not they choose to attend the concert. Nobody will be forced. If you don’t like her don’t go – it’s as simple as that.

      • The Fox says:

        Well known fact among people at RAM. She can’t hold a note for more than two seconds. Looks and luck can get you places even with no real talent.

    • Katerina says:

      Well you have just said it,”easy on the eye” pretty dresses ,sweetie character,middle of the road singer,i but not an opera STAR as she is often described,

  • Robert says:

    What – without a microphone?

  • James says:

    Nice try.

    Anyone can sing the arias- but it takes a true artist to properly prepare a role.

    You lose!

  • Alexander says:

    This sounds awful. Two singers appearing on the same stage in the same role, one of them singing the arias and the other one singing the rest. It’s insulting to the audience and insulting to whoever is going to sing the parts of the score that Ms Jenkins isn’t interested in, or capable of, singing.

    • Derek Castle says:

      She sings like a marble statue, so I don’t think she’ll be dancing on the table at Lilas Pastia’s. However, from Norman’s information, I see no indication that other singers will be involved, let alone people doing the talky bits. What precisely are ‘all the arias’? I can think of three self-contained ones that Carmen sings on her own.

  • La Donna del Largo says:

    Or perhaps not.

  • PDQ.BACH says:

    To complement the art (or perhaps not) of Mademoiselle Jenkins, may I suggest Andrea Bocelli as Don José, Russell Watson as Escamillo, Amanda Holden for Carmen’s talky bits* (maybe also some ‘Sprechgesang’), and as a surprise entrée, David Garrett** playing the Carmen Variations?

    * I now realise that this colloquialism may contain a contrepèterie subliminally inspired by Ms. Netrebko’s wily remark.

    ** As I’m given to understand, D.G. may be available, now that he is no longer engaged with the Proms.

    • Alvaro says:

      But norman, THIS IS GREAT NEWS!!

      Isnt your friend Grainge a ‘lover’ of Classics? This is it! David Garrett, Jenkins, thats what you mean right?

      After all – Deutsche Grammophon IS classical music. And so is Universal.

      Long live the status quo!

    • Derek Castle says:

      Naughty! And if D.G. cancels, perhaps ‘the world’s greatest violinist’ (seriously – in print) André Rieu could be persuaded.

  • Elisabeth Meister says:

    My goodness you lot are nasty.

    She can perform whatever the hell she wants in her concerts, and hopefully will continue to do so regardless of the relentless, snide comments made to/about her.

    I think it’s really sad.

    Whatever you may think of her natural ability, the fact remains that she DID graduate from the Academy (and yes, I know the circumstances surrounding her entrance to college, as I was there around the same time), and she has made the best of the ability she has. It may not be up to the standard you guys might require in order to please an opera-going audience, but since you’re not actually going to go to her performance, what the bloody hell difference does it make to you?


    • PDQ.BACH says:

      You really need to look up the definition of ‘bullying’.

      Also, did it ever occur to you that the mild distaste expressed by a plurality of this thread’s contributors might have anything to do with the blatant commercialism and the stultifying nature of the productions in which Mademoiselle Jenkins has been involved?
      The mind-boggling lack of taste and discernment?
      The way in which she has allowed herself to be packaged and marketed?
      All the while the arts, for which some of us here care, are being slooshed down the drain, for the want of funding and public commitment?

      Finally, as a Cambrophile of long abiding, I can remember the days when an Eisteddfod actually represented genuine value. Seeing Mademoiselle Jenkins billed as a ‘classical singing sensation’ and ‘star attraction’ at Llangollen reeks of just so much Pop Idol hogwash.

      • Elisabeth Meister says:

        Of course, you’re entirely free to say whatever you want, whether it’s called bullying, or just plain name-calling. As long as you feel happy and guilt-free about the potential harm you can inflict with your words then go ahead, knock yourself out.

        And what if she DID want to put on a fully-fledged production and use her mates? Other people do it; lots of amateur companies put on performances of music they love, and who gives a damn whether they’re musically any good or not? If her paying public enjoy her music and are entertained by it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

        If you don’t happen to like it because you only ever go to the best shows with the best performers, good luck to you. I just wish you and your ilk wouldn’t pour such scorn on others.

        For what it’s worth, I’ve worked incredibly hard at my craft, and have enjoyed a modicum of success over the years. I’ve seen an awful lot of talented singers fall by the wayside, and a fair number of less good ones rise to the top. Life isn’t fair, and there will always be someone in a position you don’t feel should be there. It’s how you live YOUR life that should be your main concern.

        And with that, I shall take my own advice, switch off the computer, and not visit this site again, it’s just too heartbreaking.

        • norman lebrecht says:

          Liz, we don’t permit bullying on this site. The responses to KJ are fairly reasoned. This is an artist who has been happy for many years to be referred to an ‘an opera singer’ when she has shown neither the application nor the technique to sing an opera. Now she proposes to attempt a kind of opera-free Carmen. It is perfectly fair for people who have invested a lifetime’s effort in the craft of singing opera to question her motives and dedication. NL

          • operaforever says:

            Thank you, Norman. The fans of Jenkins and the other popera singers don’t ever seem to understand why we’re so annoyed with Jenkins. You’ve stated it perfectly, and politely.

    • Alexander says:

      It’s not bullying. Katherine Jenkins has achieved enormous fame and wealth doing something she enjoys, so well done to her. It’s just ridiculous, though, to imagine two singers sharing a role, one of them singing the arias, and the other one singing the rest. Can you imagine Joyce DiDonato saying, “Oh, I’ll sing Scherza infida, but someone else can sing the rest”? Did Joan Sutherland sit in the wings while an understudy sang Tosca only to come on for Vissi d’arte? I just think that this production has no artistic integrity, and I would say the same if we were talking about a real operatic mezzo such as Anita Rachvelishvili, Elīna Garanča, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Elena Maximova, or Christine Rice.

    • Tim Walton says:

      What did she actually graduate with and how long was she at the RAM.

      I am sure there are many people who would like to know.

      • Euridice12 says:

        Jenkins recieved a teaching credential at the R.A. She did not receive a degree in an kind of vocal performance, nor did she do graduate work.

    • Mariandel says:

      I think perhaps what you don’t realize about Jenkins is the pretentious way she behaves when it comes to her singing. She is clearly a pop singer who sings opera arias in a pop style, yet she calls herself a “classical singer” (She doesn’t call herself an opera singer.), yet she has never sung in a classical concert or classical recital, and probably has never sung the music sung in such recitals and concerts, except perhaps for a class in school. Jenkins also has been insisting for years that one day she will sing in operas, despite the fact that no opera company has ever come calling for her and never will. She also makes up ridiculous excuses for why she has never sung a role in an opera. Before she reached the age of 30, she claimed that no singer can sing opera until the age of 30. Never mind that many opera singers (including mezzo-sopranos) have begun successful opera careers in their 20s, including Elina Garanca, Joyce DiDonato, Frederica von Stade, Teresa Berganza, Cecilia Bartoli, and others. Once she had reached the age of 30 and no opera offers had materialized, Jenkins (who has said publically that she always knew her looks would be her advantage) came up with a new excuse. She now claims that all opera singers are fat and ugly, so she’s too beautiful for opera. I have to wonder if she has ever seen photos of Anna Netrebko, Sylvia McNair, Elina Garanca, Anna Moffo, Elisabeth Schwartzkopf, Franco Corelli, Samuel Ramey, Jose Carreras, Juan Diego Florez, and a host of others, who not only have or had wonderful operatic voices, but who also are or were very attractive. I would agree that the voice is what counts in opera, but to say that opera singers are all fat and ugly is being either oblivious or disingenuous. Jenkins also has been whining for years about how the opera community doesn’t recognize her abilities or else ignores her. All of these facts about Jenkins are very easy to verify. So you see, Jenkins isn’t being bullied here. We’re not being unkind towards her. With all due respect Elisabeth, we’re just reporting the truth about her.

  • Barbara says:

    I agree with Elisabeth. Whatever you may think of this woman’s abilities there is no need for some of the harsh, snide comments which are wheeled out every time. It is a sort of cyber bullying.

    • kitty says:

      Maybe if KJ has ever admitted that she has neither voice nor technique from opera and says a few nice things about real opera singers then she’d get a slightly better reaction. How about the fact that she claimed that opera singers are fat and ugly and claims that the reason she is not an opera singer is that people are prejudiced against her because she is “too beautiful”? Or that she claimed that mezzo voice doesn’t develop until the age of 30. All of those mezzo sopranos in their 20s who sing in opera theaters all over the world might disagree.
      The fact is – even though she reluctantly admits she is not an opera singer, she allows herself to be presented as one. She also uses every reason she can invent (too beautiful, too young) to explain why she cannot sing in opera instead of admitting she has no voice for it.

  • MarieTherese says:

    No one here is “cyberbullying”, the definition of which is: ” The use of cell phones, instant messaging, e-mail, chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to harass, threaten or intimidate someone.”.
    We are merely expressing our opinions on the talent, or lack of same, of Ms Jenkins. She has a music teacher’s certificate, and since she puts herself out there as a public persona and ” classical cross-over singer”( whatever that may be) and often attempts to sing operatic arias, thus she is fair game for critics and for public opinion.

  • Una says:

    Why bother … except for the dosh! She is not an opera singer and she should stick at what she does well in her own field of singing, but not singing opera with a microphone to the plebs!! Or are we not allowed to use that word anymore sing the government minister got into trouble for using it again the police … 🙂

  • Alexander says:

    Perhaps I have misunderstood. The story above says that Ms Jenkins “will sing Carmen next summer at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod.” That to me means that she will sing the title role in the opera Carmen, not just that she will sing arias from Carmen. The story goes on to say that she “has agreed to sing ‘all the arias from Carmen’ but without the acting or the talky bits in between.” That suggested to me that there would be a concert performance of the entire opera with Ms Jenkins supplying the arias and another singer performing the rest of the score. If I read that Domingo will sing Rigoletto, I assume that it means that he will perform the title role in the opera Rigoletto, not that he will sing Pari siamo and Cortigiani, vil razza dannata as items in a concert programme. When it goes on to say that Ms Jenkins won’t do any acting or dialogue that suggests to me that there was ever supposed to be any acting or dialogue. It’s a concert, so there is no acting or dialogue.

    • Mariandel says:

      In a real concert performance of an opera, the entire opera is sung, not just the arias. This Carmen will consist of just Carmen’s arias, sung by Jenkins. This will be just a showcasing of the arias, probably with a narrator filling in the storyline.

  • Robert Hardy says:

    It is true that Katherine Jenkins did not graduate from the RAM. Because the RAM made a mistake in confusing her with the cellist Katherine Jenkins (katherinejenkinson.com), the RAM agreed to offer her lessons, and she eventually gained a teaching certificate.

    Katherine Jenkins would be the first person to tell you that she is not an opera singer. This phrase was used by her promoters. She’s a genuinely lovely person that is very open about the fact that she is a crossover artist, and there will always be a market for that. Why not? Her voice is lovely. It has it’s place.

  • Georgia Foxworth says:

    @Robert Hardy How do you know that Katherine Jenkins is “a genuinely lovely person”? Do you know her personally? If so, I think you just might have a prejudice in favor of her. If not, then you can’t state that she is “a genuinely lovely person” based on what the press clippings from her bloated marketing machine say. Also, Jenkins is not open about the fact that she is a crossover singer, but rather labels herself as “a classical singer”. I find it difficult to believe that Ms. Jenkins never came across the definition of a classical singer while she was at the RAM. A classical singer, who is trained the same way an opera singer is trained, and must sing without a microphone, sings art songs and song cycles in classical concerts and classical recitals. A classical singer may also sing solo roles in choral works. A classical singer is held to the same high standards of vocal technique as an opera singer. A classical singer must be able to tell a story with his or her voice, as he interprets the lyrics of a song or song cycle. Ms. Jenkins has never, ever performed an art song or song cycle in a classical concert or recital. She might have sung an art song or two while she was in school, but that doesn’t make her a classical singer either. if Ms. Jenkins would call herself what she is, a classical crossover singer, someone who sings opera arias in a pop style and always uses a microphone, most of the criticism would go away. She also needs to stop insisting that one day she will sing a role in a live opera. She might also want to acquire a sense of humor about herself, and stop whining and complaining about things such as the satirical blog about her called We Love Katherine Jenkins, which she got so upset about that she had it removed from the Internet.

  • maryjo says:

    Easy on the eye as one comment reiterated, sweetie girl/woman, middle of the road, light weight singer, who tries to sing operatic arias, no harm done, only when again and again described as an opera star, which she is not.

  • PR Terry says:

    She has now withdrawn from the performance of Carmen.

  • lois lancaster says:

    KJ definitely is an opera star but to a different audience than the usual deaf one. Check all these opera singers. https://agt.fandom.com/wiki/Category:Opera_Singers.
    Besides. If Netrebko/Garanca had the look as Angela Meade they should be as popular/famous as Angela Meade.