Child Opera Prodigy

by whartje

Over the weekend, I came across a fascinating clip from the Holland’s Got Talent, a spinoff of the NBC show America’s Got Talent. The link for the clip can be found below:

Amira Willighagen, a nine year old Dutch girl with no prior vocal training, auditions for the show and catches everyone by surprise with her magnificent soprano aria “O Mio Babbino Caro” from the opera  Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini. Amira picked one of the most famous and challenging opera arias, and performed it better than most professional opera singers possessing years of experience. The levels of focus, maturity, discipline are superb, and the range and flexibility she must have for this song is enormous.

After watching this clip, there are a few thoughts that crossed my mind. First, why are younger children not as attracted to classical music as compared to pop music? Is classical music more popular to children in Europe as compared to the states? I believe much of this has to do with your upbringing and the expose that parents give to their children. With the growing influence of mainstream media, I believe there will be less children interested in pursuing classical music (both vocal and chamber) unless there is a highly visible and talented child opera prodigy that children will gravitate toward and idolize.  Will the classics make a comeback for the youth?

Another thought I had was how can a nine year old with no training have the abilities to pull off a highly technical opera aria? Is there something that children possess that gives them a competitive advantage, other than their naturally high pitched voice (pre-puberty)?  Obviously, the control and vibrato necessary to make this aria outstanding is something that takes years of practice for professional opera singers.  Is Amira a child opera singer with a truly unique gift or will this open the floodgates for more child opera singers?

Your thoughts are welcome!