Sophie Bevan’s top 10 tips for becoming an opera star
Soprano Sophie Bevan was crowned young singer of the year at the 2013 International Opera Awards, aged 29.
A graduate of the Benjamin Britten International Opera School, she studied as a Karaviotis Scholar with Lillian Watson and was awarded the Queen Mother Rose Bowl Award.
She has performed Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro and Pamina in The Magic Flute at the Royal Opera House.
She recently came up with her top 10 tips for becoming an opera star and I was interested in number 4 on her list which I quote below:-
4. Don’t listen to pop music
“My family are all classical musicians and so we were never introduced to pop music when we were younger. I’m the eldest of eight children and my father used to say pop music would turn our brains to pus. We were never allowed to listen to it, simply because he couldn’t stand it. It would make him really angry to even hear a drum beat anywhere, it wasn’t an option!
When we were a bit older I tried to fit in and be cool and listen to other types of music but to be honest it’s never really interested me. I’ve realised now, as I’ve got older and come to terms with who I am, that it’s alright to be me and I’ve recognised that I don’t really enjoy popular types of music”.
What I find interesting is the typical “snotty” attitude of those who consider classical music and opera a higher art form than any other kind of music. One has only to witness the preening and prancing that goes on by opera divas, and some of the men are just as bad……..there is a kind of “look at me aren’t I wonderful” behaviour often on display. Audiences jump to their feet to applaud average to mediocre performances because that is what those kind of audiences do, and I have sat through enough concerts to personally witness this.
All I can say to this young lady is “open your ears to the wider world of music” and you will experience some of the greatest music ever written. And as a starting point may I recommend the following to start you off on your journey of discovery:-
Thats all right now mama – Elvis Presley
Hurt – Johnny Cash
The whole of the moon – The Waterboys
Non, Je ne regrette rien – Edith Piaf
Sympathy for the devil – Rolling Stones
A tisket, a tasket – Ella Fitzgerald
Take the A train – Duke Ellington
The very thought of you – Tony Bennet
First time ever I saw your face – Roberta Flack
Strawberry fields forever – The Beatles
I could go on but there is enough in that list to convince anyone that there is beautiful and meaningful music outside the rarefied and elitist world of classical music and opera.
As the Duke once succinctly put it “there are only two kinds of music, good and bad”
And for those of you thinking that what I am demonstrating is “inverted snobbery” I can honestly say the two greatest performances I have ever seen are The Four Tops on their very first tour of the UK in the 1960s and a performance of Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony by the USSR State Symphony Orchestra under Arvid Yansons back in the 1980s.