Gems: Beauty Pageant Opera

Gems: Beauty Pageant Opera

Jenna Simeonov

It’s rare, but I just love it when it happens: beauty pageant opera.

It usually happens one of two ways for me: predictably not great, or surprisingly good. When I’m listening to the former, I’m wondering how they picked their aria, trying to hear their singing background in their sound, all very judgy things that I scold myself over almost immediately. When I hear something surprisingly good, I start listening for fach-isms, imaginging operatic roles for her voice, and wondering to myself: by being sceptical of her singing, maybe I was part of the problem with the whole pageant stereotype.

Anyway. Here’s newly crowned Miss America Betty Cantrell (Miss Georgia, 2015) singing “Tu? tu? piccolo iddio!” from Madama Butterfly in last weekend’s Miss America 2016. For some reason I wouldn’t have thought of this aria as a good TV pick, but it packs a punch out of context, musically if not dramatically; and her opera-scene-slash-beauty-pageant staging is entertaining. Plus, she adds a little surprise at the end.

More beauty pageant opera, one surprisingly good, the other predictably not great:

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