It’s pretty amazing that Paul Potts, a cellphone salesman from England, came out of nowhere with such an amazing operatic voice and began singing opera professionally. Or that a chubby old lady who lives with her cat, named Susan Boyle, can sing like a canary. But is it really so amazing? Well the first thing to know is that they both had formal training. Not a lot of it, mind you, but they did have SOME training. Which is, of course, is better than NO training.
Singing opera and training the voice is just like anything else. It has to be done right and with a competent teacher, especially opera singing for beginners. Ultimately, however, the responsibility for instruction falls on the individual. I think that people like Paul Potts and Susan Boyle KNEW that they didn’t really know what they were doing so they had enough sense to ask somebody who does.
This is key. Because they could have easily said: “I’m already good, why bother with lesson?” And called it a day. But instead they swallowed their pride and consulted with somebody that had more experience, knowledge and wisdom on the topics of singing opera and performing opera. As a result, both Paul and Susan wound up winning British Idol and now opera is making a huge return in the mainstream. Mind you that in Europe, opera is quite popular among the general population but less so in the so called “western countries” like the UK, Canada and the US.
Some would argue that Paul and Susan actually sing “popera” because they sing cheesy songs with catchy melodies. While that may be true, opera has plenty of cheesy songs with great melodies and it doesn’t make it somehow illegitimate. They use operatic technique and they can become seriously great singers if they keep singing opera, despite their older ages.
From a purely technical standpoint, they could both use a LOT of work on their techniques. Both Paul and Susan strain a good bit, especially on the high notes. But it takes many years to get to the point where those notes come with minimal effort.