- The good: Not being a viewer of such programmes I can only imagine the dross that usually appears on them. So when something as genuinely thrilling as 'Nessun Dorma' is performed, it's no wonder a thrill goes down the spine of everyone in the room! It's like a ray of light has appeared highlighting the morass of mediocrity that characterises most of the musical slop they're familiar with.
- The bad: It was a set up. This isn't just some shy carphone salesman who sings in the shower who the judges would not have heard before. This is a guy in his thirties who's already appeared before the judges to get this far; and he's already plied his trade and been found wanting: He's sung for Bath Opera, for the Royal Philharmonic and as a soloist on an Italian tour -- and yes, part of his tour reportoire was 'Nessun Dorma.'
- The ugly: First ugly point, he can't sing. The tin ears of those judges (and most of the audience) has probably been destroyed by too much exposure to garbage, but with all that training and all that performance experience this guy can't sing. (See Lindsay Perigo's analysis of his voice if you want details.) Second, everyone who's just been touched by what they perceive as a magic musical moment, a moment when the thrill of real music has appeared in and touched their lives will now head home with bland muck like Dire Sraits or Andrea Bloody Bocelli on their stereo. Thrills such as this music delivers when delivered properly are too much for most people. Mediocrity is far more comforting.
For more where that came from, if you really, genuinely have been touched by the thrill of real singing, the BBC have just released a one-hour Lanza documentary that's on Google Video in six parts. Here's the first. And if you think (despite your ears) that Lanza's a flake compared to real opera singers, then perhaps my own review and comparison of him to those other great singers -- to Domingo, Pavarotti, De Stefano - might persuade you to lose your inhibitions: Italian Idol.
UPDATE: Several comments on this over at Tim Blair's. My favourites were comments about Opera Guy's choices of Puccini's 'Nessun Dorma.' 'Kiwinews' says, "someone around him is smart enough to get him in the spotlight here singing Puccini whose soaring harmonies thrill audiences while covering multiple sins of vocal technique in a way unforgiving Mozart or even Belcanto won’t - let’s hope he’s smart enough to grab the advantage."
And Mitch follows up: "He looked like he was going to piss his pants, but seemed to know what he was doing. I have to agree with kiwinews, though. Puccini makes panties fall off – most notoriously, those of the singer for whom he inserted Musette’s Waltz into la Boheme – but Mozart requires the performer to make everything look easy. That’s much harder. Hell, if Chris Martin can accomplish the same trick as Puccini, how difficult can it be?
"A pianist I met said that Chopin made him sweat when he played it, but Mozart made him sweat when he thought about it."