Can opera singers sing songs from musicals? The short answer is a resounding yes, but in our experience it’s important to select the right musicals and the right singers.
Some shows like ‘West Side Story’, all the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, ‘Porgy and Bess’, plus many of the works of Sondheim and Lloyd Webber can all work wonderfully, particularly if the singers can loosen their vocal production a little and ‘speak’ to the audience. But this repertoire can be thrilling when the opera singers open up with full throttle – the tenor singing ‘Maria’ for instance, or the ensemble ‘Do you hear the people sing’ from ‘Les Miserables’. Wonderful repertoire!!
Opera singers cannot really do justice to musicals that have more of a jazz concept, such as ‘Chicago’, or a Heavy Rock inspiration. If they did, it may well sound comical – but that could be fun too! French and Saunders’ version of ‘I should be so lucky’ is truly hilarious and inspired us to include some pop songs from time to time including operatic versions of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Rock around the clock’ and ‘Delilah’. This can create an unexpected and powerful encore in a conventional opera programme!
We return to the magnificent Goldsmiths’ Hall in London later in the Spring for ‘A Night at the Musicals’. This is one of our favourite venues. Our pianist is always particularly keen as the Hall has a superb grand piano!