Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Reality TV Musicians 2012

Today has seen a pair of disparate announcements concerning musicians in Reality TV shows (Reality? Can one call them that any more or is the term already a Noughties' anachronism?).

The first is that the BBC are to produce a second version of their 2008 show Maestro. In that original six celebrities were tutored in conducting and then competed before a panel from the industry for the prize of conducting at The Proms In The Park. This edition will have four celebrities and the prize will be to conduct an act of an opera at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

The second is across the pond where the new series of Dancing With The Stars (the US version of Strictly Come Dancing) is about to launch. One of the contestants will be the singer Katherine Jenkins who sang as a guest in a previous series of that show.

Clearly, Katherine Jenkins is seen as having a wide portfolio of appeal. She has worked not just as a mezzo-soprano singing classical music but also as a broadcaster (as part of the panel of the truly execrable UK Reality Show Popstar To Operastar), dancing (like the Viva La Diva stage show of 2007 with Darcy Bussell) or as an actress (the Doctor Who special of 2010). All these other appearances have her singing in some context and no doubt this latest venture will be seen as the vehicle for promoting her singing in the US.

Where Dancing With The Stars is a straightforward entertainment show, Maestro 2, with its rather more industry-centric contestants and modified pretext could yet recapture the rich, instructive nature of the first two episodes of the previous series. It's clearly a move by the Royal Opera's new director Kasper Holten to capitalise on the success of musical director Antonio Pappano's work in broadcasting as well as a general move to expand the profile and appeal of the Royal Opera (lest we forget, this is the Holten who brought us a sexy-thriller film version of Don Giovanni)

UPDATE 5/3/2012: These things always come in threes. This week sees the launch of a new crossover collective. Amore are Royal College of Music singing students. They're young, pretty and up for it. Good luck to them.

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