What’s In A Name? – Plenty!
Never before has a genre of music been known by so many names – there’s Classical Crossover, Operatic Pop and Popera. They all refer to a singular genre, it’s what you hear when a pop song is performed with a classical twist, presented in a more operatic style.
Mastering the genre requires more technical vocalization ability than is needed for most pop music, which often relies on the “bells and whistles “ (sometimes literally) supplied by current recording technology.
According to Jolanda Nel, Soprano and the only female member of the Popera trio known as Klassika, to sing this way takes the discipline and dedication of an athlete. “The depth of breathing and the constant challenging of the vocal chords to reach the highest and lowest octave ranges with great power, requires athletic-like training. I believe opera singers are finely tuned athletes,” she says. And this South African native knows of which she speaks, herself a classically trained singer having performed in such operas as La Traviata, Don Giovanni and The Impresario.
Many give credit to opera’s legendary Luciano Pavarotti for having created the Classical Crossover genre in the late 1980s when he began inviting popular singers of the day (Mariah Carey, Barry White, Sheryl Crow, James Brown, Tom Jones, Celia Cruz) to join him on stage and in the recording studio. This suddenly made Pavarotti’s specialty more accessible to general audiences. – Popera was born.
“We tone down the operatic sound a little bit to keep closer to the pop song but add the classical tones and colors to keep things fresh and unexpected,” Nel points out. She also credits Celine Dion’s “The Prayer” and Sarah Brightman /Andrea Bocelli’s “Time To Say Goodbye” as prime examples of the genre.
Klassika’s arrangements include violins and cellos, drums and contemporary synthetic sounds to create their full, lush and dramatic music. The group interprets the Bruno Mars hit “Just The Way You Are” in this way and it has become Klassika’s signature song. The trio has the good fortune of working with the renowned South African composer, director and performer, Johan Kelber, who arranges most of their music to complement their strong voices and soaring harmonies.
“Opera is unforgiving with very little room for interpretation. With Popera, we can express ourselves artistically and even add languages in some of our songs transitioning from English to either Italian, French or Spanish,” Nel says enthusiastically.
Some of Klassika’s classics include:
“All Of Me” (John Legend)
“I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” (Aerosmith)
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Simon & Garfunkel)
“Your Song” (Elton John)
“Unchained Melody” (The Righteous Brothers)
“Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen)
“My Way” (Frank Sinatra)
“Winner Takes It All” (ABBA)
Klassika is ready to record their first original song, created by Italian songwriter Luca Angelossanti, called “Qui” which means, “here” in Italian.