Operatic pop

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Operatic pop or popera is a subgenre of pop music that is performed in an operatic singing style or a song, theme or motif from classical music stylized as pop. According to music historians, operatic pop songs became most prevalent with the rise of Tin Pan Alley musicians during the early 1900s. [1] One influence was the large influx of Italian immigrants to the United States who popularized singers such as Enrico Caruso and inspired the creation of "novelty songs" using Italian dialect. The songs often used operatic repertory "to make a satirical or topical point". [1] Popularized by American Vaudeville, musical comedies, jazz and operettas, examples include Irving Berlin's That Opera Rag, Billy Murray's My Cousin Caruso and Louis Armstrong's riffs on Rigoletto and Pagliacci . [1] The subgenre subsequently dwindled after the 1920s but revived during the rock music era with albums such as The Who's Tommy and Queen's A Night at The Opera . [1]

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms "popular music" and "pop music" are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many diverse styles. "Pop" and "rock" were roughly synonymous terms until the late 1960s, when they became increasingly differentiated from each other.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Tin Pan Alley group of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century

Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The name originally referred to a specific place: West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in the Flower District of Manhattan; a plaque on the sidewalk on 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth commemorates it. In 2019 the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission took up the question of preserving five buildings on the north side of the street as a Tin Pan Alley Historic District.


In 1986, operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti had a hit with the Lucio Dalla song "Caruso", which helped to spark a recent flourishing of operatic pop. [2] Other singers, including Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, and Katherine Jenkins, also recorded the number. [2] Bocelli, in particular, soon became a leading representative of the subgenre. [2] [3] In the 2000s, singers and singing groups devoted primarily to operatic pop built on this renewed success. Groups like Il Divo and Amici Forever have achieved popularity with the mix of "contemporary pop with operatic style" characteristic of operatic pop. [4] The subgenre is often performed by classical crossover singers and acts, although that field is much broader in the types of music it encompasses. "Popera" performances, such as those by the Three Tenors, have reached larger audiences and brought in greater profits than typical for operatic music. [5]

Luciano Pavarotti Italian operatic tenor

Luciano Pavarotti, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI was an Italian operatic tenor who also crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time. He made numerous recordings of complete operas and individual arias, gaining worldwide fame for the quality of his tone, and eventually established himself as one of the finest tenors of the 20th century, achieving the honorific title "king of the high C's".

Lucio Dalla Italian recording artist; singer-songwriter, musician and actor

Lucio Dalla, OMRI was an Italian singer-songwriter, musician and actor. He also played clarinet and keyboards.

"Caruso" is a song written by Italian singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla in 1986. It is dedicated to Enrico Caruso, an Italian tenor. Following Lucio Dalla's death, the song entered the Italian Singles Chart, peaking at number two for two consecutive weeks. The single was also certified platinum by the Federation of the Italian Music Industry.

Operatic pop solo singers

Notable operatic pop solo singers include:

Andrea Bocelli Italian tenor and singer-songwriter

Andrea Bocelli, OMRI, OMDSM is an Italian opera singer, songwriter, and record producer. Celine Dion has said that "if God would have a singing voice, he must sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli," and David Foster, a record producer, often describes Bocelli's voice as the most beautiful in the world.

Alessandro Safina Italian tenor

Alessandro Safina is an Italian operatic pop tenor.

Aled Jones Welsh singer and TV presenter

Aled Jones, is a Welsh singer and radio and television presenter. As a teenage chorister, he reached widespread fame during the mid-1980s. Since then he has become well known for his television work with the BBC and ITV, as well as his radio work.

Operatic pop groups

Notable operatic pop groups include:

All Angels are a British classical crossover group formed in 2006, consisting of Daisy Chute, Rachel Fabri, Melanie Nakhla and Charlotte Ritchie . The group's style is classical crossover music and close harmony arrangement, with a repertoire spanning classical, choral, opera and pop including Franz Schubert's Ellens dritter Gesang, Agnus Dei and the Sancta Maria intermezzo from Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, along with the Flower Duet from Léo Delibes' Lakmé and the Barcarolle from Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, plus pop songs such as Robbie Williams' “Angels”, Fleetwood Mac's “Songbird”, Coldplay's “The Scientist”, “True Colours”, “Goodnight my Angel” Muses' “Starlight” and Prince's “Nothing Compares 2 U”. They have also performed the UK National Anthem at Twickenham and at the England vs. USA football match in Wembley Stadium in the summer of 2008.

Amici Forever is a band of four classically trained singers who mix opera with pop music. The band's first album, The Opera Band (2004), reached number one on the Australian classical charts, number two on the United States (US) classical charts and the top 5 in the United Kingdom (UK) classical charts.

<i>Blake</i> (band) British band

Blake is a British vocal group. Blake comprises three men whose friendship and musical careers date back to their schooldays. After reuniting via Facebook as adults they recorded their first album in six months. That album. Blake, went straight to number one in the UK Classical Album Chart and into the Top Twenty Pop Chart. Their career took off, a series of highlights, some of which are recorded below.

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"Nessun dorma" is an aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot and one of the best-known tenor arias in all opera. It is sung by Calaf, il principe ignoto, who falls in love at first sight with the beautiful but cold Princess Turandot. Any man who wishes to wed Turandot must first answer her three riddles; if he fails, he will be beheaded. In the aria, Calaf expresses his triumphant assurance that he will win the princess.

The Three Tenors Spanish-Italian operatic trio

The Three Tenors were a popular operatic singing group during the 1990s and early 2000s, consisting of Spaniards Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and Italian Luciano Pavarotti. The trio began their collaboration with a performance at the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy on 7 July 1990, the eve of the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final. Zubin Mehta conducted the orchestra of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the orchestra of Teatro dell'Opera di Roma. The image of three tenors in formal evening dress singing in a World Cup concert captivated the global audience. The recording of this debut concert became the best-selling classical album of all time and led to additional performances and live albums. They performed to a global television audience at three further World Cup Finals, 1994 in Los Angeles, 1998 in Paris, and 2002 in Yokohama. Around 1.3 billion viewers worldwide watched the 1994 performance at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. They last performed together at an arena in Columbus, Ohio, on 28 September 2003.

Il Divo multinational classical crossover vocal group

Il Divo is a multi-national classical crossover vocal group. The male quartet originated in the United Kingdom in December 2003, bringing together singers Urs Bühler (Switzerland), Carlos Marín (Spain), David Miller (USA), and Sébastien Izambard (France). The group was created and promoted by music producer Simon Cowell for the label Syco Music. Although it is unclear how the group's name came about, "Il Divo" is translated from Italian as "divine performer."

Albano Carrisi Italian recording artist; singer and actor

Albano Carrisi, better known as Al Bano, is an Italian recording artist, actor, and winemaker. In 2016, he was awarded Albanian citizenship due to his close ties with the country.

Canzone napoletana, sometimes referred to as Neapolitan song, is a generic term for a traditional form of music sung in the Neapolitan language, ordinarily for the male voice singing solo, although well represented by female soloists as well, and expressed in familiar genres such as the love song and serenade. Many of the songs are about the nostalgic longing for Naples as it once was. The genre consists of a large body of composed popular music—such songs as "'O sole mio"; "Torna a Surriento"; "Funiculì, Funiculà"; "Santa Lucia" and others.

Vittorio Grigolo Italian opera singer

Vittorio Grigolo is an Italian operatic tenor.

I Believe in You (Je crois en toi) 2006 single by Celine Dion and Il Divo

"I Believe in You " is a duet by Celine Dion and Il Divo, released as the third and last single from Dion's On ne change pas album (2005), and first and only from Il Divo's Ancora (2005). At first, on 23 January 2006 "I Believe in You" was released as a radio single in the United States. The commercial single was issued 1 May 2006 in France and Switzerland. It was also released as a radio single in Canada, in May 2006.

’O surdato ’nnammurato is a famous song written in the Neapolitan language. The song is used as the anthem of S.S.C. Napoli.

Romina Arena Italian-American singer-songwriter

Romina Arena is an Italian-American popera, operatic pop, pop classical crossover, rock opera and new-age singer-songwriter.

<i>Il Mare Calmo della Sera</i> 1994 studio album by Andrea Bocelli

Il mare calmo della sera is the debut album by Italian tenor singer Andrea Bocelli, following his win of the Sanremo Festival in 1994, singing his first single and the leading single of the album of the same name. It was certified Gold in the Netherlands.

Il mare calmo della sera (song) song by Andrea Bocelli

"Il mare calmo della sera" is a song written by Zucchero Fornaciari, Giampiero Felisatti and Gloria Nuti, for Andrea Bocelli. Bocelli won the Sanremo Festival in 1994, singing the song, which was later released as his debut single. It is among Bocelli's most popular and well-known songs.

Il Volo Italian operatic pop trio

Il Volo is an Italian operatic pop trio, consisting of singers: the baritone Gianluca Ginoble, and two tenors, Piero Barone and Ignazio Boschetto. They describe their music as "popera". Having won the Sanremo Music Festival 2015, they represented Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Vienna, Austria. They reached third place, but managed to secure a solid first-place victory in the televoting.

Florin Cezar Ouatu Romanian singer

Florin Cezar Ouatu is a Romanian opera countertenor, singer and pianist, sometimes known by the stage nicknames "Cezar The Voice [Vocea]" or simply "Cezar".

Pasquale Esposito American tenor

Pasquale Esposito is an Italian-born American tenor. He has released six albums and has toured internationally.

Pavarotti & Friends series of benefit concerts

Pavarotti & Friends was a series of benefit concerts hosted by Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti between 1992 and 2003 in his home town of Modena, Italy. Proceeds from the events were donated to humanitarian causes including the international aid agency War Child and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The concerts featured Pavarotti performing with special musical guests and each concert was released as a compilation album and DVD under London Records/Decca Records.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Hamberlin, Larry (January 21, 2011). "Introduction". Tin Pan Opera: Operatic Novelty Songs in the Ragtime Era (1st ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN   9780195338928 . Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Autunnali, Melisanda Massei (2011). Caruso: Lucio Dalla e Sorrento, il rock e i tenori (in Italian). Rome: Donzelli. pp. 4–5, 137. ISBN   8860365635.
  3. 1 2 Andrea Bocelli: The king of Operatic pop, The Sydney Morning Herald , August 28, 2004
  4. 1 2 Danesi, Marcel (2013). The history of the kiss!: the birth of popular culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 111. ISBN   1137376856.
  5. 1 2 Greenwald, Helen M., ed. (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Opera. Oxford University Press. pp. 674–5. ISBN   9780195335538.
  6. Caspari, Abigail (February 27, 2008). "Brennan: Dame Kiri should apologise". Rotorua Daily Post . New Zealand. Retrieved September 24, 2015. A Rotorua opera singer is calling for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to publicly apologise to Hayley Westenra and other 'popera' stars for calling them fake singers.
  7. Graff, Gary (March 17, 2004). "Bachstreet Boy: Classical singer carves niche for operatic pop". Reading Eagle . The New York Times Syndicate. Retrieved September 24, 2015. Groban has carved more of a mainstream niche for operatic pop vocals than such predecessors as Andrea Bocelli or even Luciano Pavarotti.
  8. Shepherd, John, ed. (2005). Continuum encyclopedia of popular music of the world. London: Continuum. p. 233. ISBN   0826474365. Italy has capitalized on its stereotypical image as the cradle of bel canto, as in the case of the 'operatic pop' of Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli.
  9. . Eurovision Song Contest. 27 October 2017 https://eurovision.tv/story/opera-in-the-eurovision-song-contest . Retrieved 23 June 2019.Unknown parameter |titel= ignored (|title= suggested) (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. BBC Proms 2014: The Official Guide. Random House. 2014. p. 28. ISBN   1448142652. If anyone can compete with Wainwright for the crown of operatic pop...
  11. "Romina Arena: All hail the 'Queen of Popera'", The ArbiterOnline, December 6, 2007
  12. Gallo, Phil (November 12, 2011). "Romeo's Escape: Vittorio Grigolo balances opera roles with blues, jazz and other new directions". Billboard: 59. Retrieved September 24, 2015. ‘My goal is to enlarge the audience [for opera] by using the media of our time,’ he says, using the term ‘popera’ as a definition of a viable art form rather than as a derisive insult.
  13. McKinley, Jr., James C. (September 4, 2013). "Artsbeat: Il Divo Is Coming to Broadway". The New York Times . Retrieved September 24, 2015. Il Divo, the operatic pop vocal group, is coming to Broadway...
  14. "Italian popera trio among Eurovision favourites". Italy: The Local. May 19, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  15. "Sole Mio: Polynesians bulk up a beautiful sound" by Peter Vincent, The Sydney Morning Herald , 1 May 2014
Oliver Kamm British writer and journalist

Oliver George Kamm is a British journalist and writer who is a leader writer and columnist for The Times.