Back in 2001, two opera singers were discovered busking in London’s Covent Garden and almost overnight were thrust into the global media spotlight, releasing an album, achieving No.1 chart positions across the world and becoming an international success phenomenon.
It sounds like a PR marketing stunt, but this is a true story...
Rebecca Knight and Karen England were spotted by a talent executive whilst busking and were invited to perform on the pitch at The FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium Cardiff – the first time that it was held there, as Wembley was still under construction.
Almost overnight they were thrust into the public eye throughout the world as the 70000 capacity football supporters looked on and a world wide television audience of close to 1 billion watched a true’ rags to riches’ story unfold before their eyes.
Legendary Sports TV Commentator Des Lynam announced to the world ‘and here they are, The Operababes’ the name became set in stone and the media loved it.
The following week they flew to Milan and sang at The Champions League final in the San Sero Stadium, broadcast live to a global audience of 500 million.
The next day Karen England & Rebecca Knight were presented with 5 major record contracts and the bidding war started, finally with SonyBMG winning the deal.
Once signed to Sony Music their début album Beyond Imagination went straight to the top of the UK Classical Charts & stayed at No 1 for an incredible 14 weeks!
Along with reaching No.4 in the USA Billboard Charts, the album Beyond Imagination has sold to date more than 1.7 million copies around the globe, with the title track 'One Fine Day' becoming the Offical ITV World Cup 2002 Theme.
The duo subsequently went on to perform for her Majesty the Queen including the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, the launch of the Commonwealth Games at Buckingham Palace and the Prom at the Palace for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.
OperaBabes have performed in concert with the world’s leading Orchestra’s including The Philharmonia, The Halle, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The BBC Concert Orchestra, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, The London Symphony Orchestra, The Berlin Symphony Orchestra and many more.
They have performed regularly at all of Britain’s major venues, indoor and out, from the Royal Albert Hall to Leeds Castle, Symphony Hall Birmingham to the Royal Festival Hall London. Their numerous television appearances range from Good Morning America in the US to GMTV & BBC Songs of Praise in the UK. They have been the subject of 3 documentaries, 2 in the UK for ITV and the 3rd in the USA for CBS.
Taking America by storm, they performed with Placido Domingo as his guests at Los Angeles Opera and made history by becoming the first classical act ever to perform in Las Vegas, headlining at the legendary Stardust Casino and also Atlantic City Casinos.
In 2006 they released their second album “Renaissance” to overwhelming critical acclaim – a mixture of classical repertoire fused with electronic French style techno and ambient soundscapes.
They toured the album back to back for 4 years in the UK and Europe, firstly with their Renaissance show (a Madonna meets Mozart extravaganza) and then with their own ensemble as a purely acoustic evening.
They have sung on the inaugural voyage of the Queen Mary II and the Queen Victoria cruise ships for Cunard and launched Holland Americas new liner The Eurodam in Rotterdam – helped Mercedes launch the brand new C-Class cars in Moscow, became ambassadors for SOS Children in Sri Lanka, performed for the Royal Family of the United Arab Emirates at the Royal Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, headlined at the Zouk Festival in Beirut and launched the exclusive Quintessentially brand in New York.
They have also sung at private engagements for La Dolce Vita (London), Motorola (Sardinia), Royal Bank of Scotland (Edinburgh), Chelsea Football Club (London), Unicef (London), Sony (Lisbon) to name but a few.
Plucked from a wet afternoon of busking Bizet and Puccini to passersby on the Piazza in Covent Garden in the spring of 2001, soprano Rebecca Knight and mezzo Karen England soon found themselves singing in slightly larger venues: the FA Cup and Champions League soccer finals. That the management company doing the plucking had recently performed a similar Cinderella crossover act for Russell Watson offered portent, and indeed the 'Babes' the moniker began as a joke, were soon on their way to this recording debut.Jerry McCulley, Rolling Stone Magaizine
The marketing shtick and its soccer connections may offend purists, but it's the football hooligans that the Babes are trying to win over here; can Borodin soothe the savage Manchester United fan? Their classically trained voices mesh gloriously, with England's warm mezzo showing particular character in her solo turns.
The repertoire choices here cover material that may already be familiar to fans of Charlotte Church (i.e., Delibes "Flower Duet") and other crossover acts, but they do include some pleasant surprises, like Offenbach's Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffmann and "You Live On in My Heart," a reworking of Ennio Morricone's enchanting Cinema Paradiso theme with lyrics by Knight. Former Art of Noise mainstay Anne Dudley's tastefully restrained coloring of Tchaikovsky's "1001 Nights" is one of the notable pieces.
They're babes, they sing opera ... with fair promise ... for the masses, and if they turn one in a hundred from football hooliganism to a well-mannered appreciation of Grieg and Dvorák, won't it all have been worth it?
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