The Opera Babes

As Beckham and Owen knock them in, the Opera Babes provide the perfect soundtrack. For those of you who have been waking up at silly hours to watch the latest match you can't have escaped "One Fine Day" as the Official ITV World Cup Theme. It's just one of 15 classical gems which fill the Number One Selling Opera Babes album "Beyond Imagination".

We caught up with Rebecca Knight, daughter of renowned opera singer Gillian Knight, to discuss how they started off in humble beginnings busking in Covent Garden before being whisked away for the FA Cup Final and then on to record the "Beyond Imagination" album. As opera continues to crossover to the mainstream the Babes have managed to record an album that pleases the Opera Elite as well as appealing to the ordinary man in the street who recognized the Hovis, Old Spice and British Airways adverts.

Q: You're behind "One Fine Day" - the official ITV World Cup Theme. Again bringing the world of Football and Opera together for what at first glance looks two very different sides of culture. Why do you think they sit beside each other so well?
A: Pavarotti started I suppose with "Nessum Dorma". I think its probably because people get so worked up about football and you do the same way with Opera as well really. To actually perform it I think you need to be on a certain type of charge and you have this weird energy going on in your just need a real passion with both things have.

Q: You've grown up with a classical background, but do you think it was "Nessum Dorma" that crossed classical music over to the mainstream from that elite circle?
A: That really changed everything didn't it. I think then Opera became very much in the public domain and not just for an elite group of people...which is kind of what were hoping to continue along that sort of line. Were making it a bit more accessible so people that perhaps wouldn't normally listen to opera might do so if they thought that normal people were listening to it.


Q: Going back to you childhood. You had a famous mother in the Opera Circles, did you ever want to rebel against the whole idea of what your parents had planned for you?
A: I totally did. I couldn't stand opera when I was a kid...there was no way on earth I was going near it!!! I just used to play anything loud and offensive just to annoy my parents. Even the piano...when I used to play these classical pieces I would just bash them out and make a horrible noise.

The reason I did it was I wanted to be very much an individual and eventually I thought I really really do like opera and realized I was cutting my nose of to spite my face. I'd done a lot of weird things like sailing around the world for a year, I'd been a gardener and I'd written for Children's TV and I think I liked the idea of a big challenge. It was almost like going into something that I thought was unachievable, especially having a mother that had done so well as it I thought I was never going to do as well as her.

Q: When you first hooked up with Karen to form the Opera Babes you were actually busking in Covent Gardens. How did all that come about?
A: I met her in a touring opera company, we hit off straight away and it was her idea that we did a bit of busking. And it was from that that we got offered the FA Cup Final and from that we got offered the record deal and its just spiralled away out of control.

There's a classical section in Covent Garden where there are string quartets and singers. I think one of her friends had done it and she said to Karen I think you should give it a go. It was a lot of no-ing and yes-ing because its quite a weird thing to do to stand in a street and make yourself sing opera. First of all people actually thought we were miming and then we went up them and screamed in their ear so they realized it was us actually singing.

When was the last time a homeless person came up to you and gave you money. It just doesn't happen does it!!!


Q: You did actually write a lot of the lyrics for the Number One Album "Beyond Imagination". People have heard these songs in different contexts. Was it a worry about how people would react to them?
A: We did a little bit, but at the end of the day you've got to trust your own judgement. We set out to make an album of beautiful music and we tried our hardest to achieve it. And having written stuff before it was nice to have that creative output on the album and it was weird because when we first started people were saying lyrics don't matter, its all about meaningless vowel sounds.

The thing is, is it isn't your stereotypical crossover album. There's a lot of straight stuff on there even though it may have a little twist...a lot of crossover acts usually have a pop beat over the top whereas I think there has been a lot more thought on this album.

Q: We've recently seen Russell Watson collaborate with Faye Tozer from Steps. Is there anyone you'd like to collaborate with either from the classical world or maybe a more mainstream circle?
A: I suppose it would be nice to get Domingo or in the pop world someone like Sting is an obvious one. But were not clamouring to collaborate with anyone at the moment because were still finding our feet as a duo really.

Some people would probably go further than we would, but that's because we've had a different background. We've trained as Opera singers and we've been working in theatres for years so that's where our heart is really. I guess we just wouldn't want to go too far in the other just wouldn't interest us.

For more info

Post your own Opera Babes reviews / comments on our Message Board