How to reach the heart and soul of my own generation with classical music? That was the question I was struggling with before the idea of Krossover – Opera Revisited struck me as a bolt of lightning. Once upon a time the music that we now label as ‘classical’ was the popular music of the day. Mozart didn’t refrain from sneaking in a widely known folk tune in his compositions and at least a handful of Handel’s masterpieces had been written with the idea in mind of attracting large audiences. It was only in the second half of the 20th century that the so called contemporary music became so abstract that the connection with the general public got lost along the way. In my mind this contemporary form of classical music aims at tickling the intellect, and most certainly not the heart and soul of the listener. During my career as a singer I’ve experienced that audiences, more often than not, still love a beautiful melody. Time and time again I was asked to sing the Habanera from George Bizet’s popular opera Carmen. That tune has more or less become my signature song. With that melody I really touched people, but for me it isn’t really a challenge to keep on doing this for the rest of my life. What to do? Record an album with famous opera arias? Why bother: the world’s best and most renowned singers have already released hundreds of these ‘opera hits’ albums.
I considered it useless to add my contribution the list. And why go searching for obscure or forgotten opera gems when a singer like Cecilia Bartoli, to much acclaim, has already done so. No, I really had to come up with a better idea. An idea that would bring classical music back to where it belongs: in the warm hands of the people who love good music. Wouldn’t it be great to create a cultural environment in which going to the opera would be an understandable alternative to a new James Bond movie?