Bocelli & Grande: could be an opera duo, except they're really, really notOp-ed
So, Andrea Bocelli has “graced” us (and probably a BILLION wedding receptions hence) with a new duet called “E Piú ti Penso”, and although it is kinda sorta pretty, it’s totally rubbing me the wrong way. It has all the proper ingredients: string ensemble, a video shot through a soft-filtered lens, a pretty pop princess, and it’s written by Ennio Morricone. MORRICONE!!!
Before we start, let’s talk about Ariana Grande.
I like her. This “she’s the new Mariah Carey” tack that her management took early on in her singing career may have launched her into a trillion earbuds, but it wasn’t based on much fact. These people have clearly forgotten the glory of early 90s Mariah, but I digress…
I think she’s a decent singer with a remarkable and flexible range who has released some tracks that I can’t help but bop along to, and was involved with one of my most favourite jams of the last couple of years, “Bang, Bang” (A Jessie J track featuring her and the supertwerker Nicki Minaj). I do have a problem with the hyper-sexualized infantilism involved in her current marketing, but trends change, and we all know how kind Hollywood can be to women who experience the passage of time like the rest of the planet.
What I do have a problem with is everyone calling this opera. I know, I know, it sounds like I’m being one of those “Elitist Opera Snobs” in this situation, and some of you may try to call me out on my piece regarding Lloyd Webber’s Phantom (feel free to; I’m more than happy to continue that discussion). But this is different.
The song, while not offensive, is boring, and is sung with no classical technique whatsoever by either singer (in reference to my Phantom piece, I challenge you to try “Think of Me” or “Prima Donna” without it). Tuning issues aside the presence of the pop portamento (#poptamento?), the lack of forward placement, the style, the orchestration and most importantly the delivery, are all pop. 100% pop-tastic, and that’s not a bad thing. So own it. Love it. Celebrate it, and stop trying to say it’s opera or you’ll find yourself in a situation similar to George Takei when he told the people on Star Trek he could fence (originally supposed to be a Samurai sword but he lobbied to have it switched to rapier to avoid stereotyping - then needed to learn how to use a rapier #nerdbomb).
Okay, so what’s my point? We need to remember that opera is a theatrical genre. You can take a piece from an opera and sing it in a vacuum and you are still singing opera. Then there is art song and believe it or not, that’s what ALL POP MUSIC IS. Just the permutation of the art songs that were found in salons across Europe for the past 400 years - and there’s nothing wrong with art songs. In fact, most opera singers I know will tell you, they discover more about their instrument and their abilities in dealing with the Liederbuchs and Arie Antiche. There’s a reason we all start there.
My main issue is that this song, is neither the art-song-of-old nor an aria removed from a greater work. It’s just an Italian pop-song. A duet between a classically-trained popera singer (I know he’s been on stage in a full show… I’m still skeptical of how effective it was; if anyone has a link, I’d be glad to devour it) and a straight up pop princess is NOT an operatic aria, couplet, rondo or cabaletta. It’s a pop song. An adult-contemporary pop song (remember that genre? Amy Grant, Michael Bolton, Sting, etc…), but a pop song nonetheless.
Josh Groban never bills himself as an “Opera Singer” and we should stop doing that with Bocelli.
Also - this song is nowhere near as good as “The Prayer”. Can we agree that only David Foster will write pop/art song crossovers from now on?