Jamie Barton Wins Big!


Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 4.24.44 AMShe developed a love for opera to rebel against her hippie parents.

In the world of opera, superstars are rare.  In my lifetime I know of only a few:  Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.  There is a difference between an operatic superstar and a true star.  True stars include the above.  Also add Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa, Maria Callas, and Leontyne Price.  There is a difference between an opera star who has achieved the ability to exhibit cross-over status.  Pavarotti, Domingo, Bubbles, Sherrill Milnes, Erwin Schrott, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky are the only ones I know who have been able to do so.  Of all of these, the only world wide mega stars in opera (besides the legendary Caruso) would be Pavarotti and Hvorostovsky.

Opera is a strange creature.  It is an art form that transcends the arts.  It is a contact sport, the artistic version of baseball, complete with blooper pitches, spit balls, grans slams, strike outs, walks, triple plays, and a perfect game.  It can be absolute perfection, and it can be the worst thing imaginable, so bad, you want to stand up, throw things and boo.  There are moments when the sheer beauty of what you have heard is so remarkable you jump to your feet, shouting, applauding for joy.

It’s hard to quantify what makes an opera singer a superstar.  It’s not vocal.  There are some amazing voices that will never be heard on a stage.  It’s luck.  It can’t be appearance.  Look at Pavarotti.  There is a magical aura that surrounds vocal greatness.  Half sheer good luck, and the other half sheer grim determination to succeed.

Contrary to popular opinion, an opera singer works like a baseball player, always in training.  Just a few days off and the voice loses the edge.  Increasingly a physical sport, if a baritone is playing Rigoletto, he must have stamina, athletic ability, strength training, and can stand, stooped, limping, on stage for up to an hour at a time.  It is a painful, draining role.   You add a little bit of boxing, fencing, and sometimes comedic timing, and there aren’t many Hollywood stars who can even begin to compete.  Also – they must know how to act.  An operatic star must know how to combine all of the above, and never miss a beat, never miss an note, and never ever be off key.

This is not a sport for sissies.

It is also a highly competitive sport, with hundreds of talented young potential stars trying out for very few professional singing roles.  There aren’t all that many opera companies out there, especially  now, when the arts are being cut by barbarian fools who don’t understand that what separates us from the apes is culture, the arts, and music.

One of the ways a young singer can make their way to the top is through competitions, which are held, world-wide.  One of the more valuable prizes is bestowed by the Richard Tucker Music Foundation.  Another comes every two years, in Cardiff, Wales.

Winning Cardiff does not guarantee a singer super-star status.  Since its inception in 1983, only two world-class stars have emerged from it:  Bryn Terfel and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, both competing head to head in 1989.   This year’s winner, Jamie Barton of Rome, Georgia, has a chance to become a super-star.  She has that illusive quality superstars of opera possess.  It doesn’t hurt to have a voice that makes one think of the great Marilyn Horne.

Wales Online
Wales Online

Barton has already shagged her spot with the Met.  She’s singing in major venues throughout the world.  Anyone who was familiar with her voice before Cardiff knew she was good.  Coming out on top is only going to speed her way to super-star status.