the eight contestants will be trained to perform world famous opera songs – many of them learning... a completely different language than they are used to.Amazing.
It must be said that ITV aren't mucking about here. In addition to the ususal suspects - Alan Titchmarsh and Myleene Klass presenting and Katherine Jenkins as a 'mentor' - they've also secured the services of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (yes, I thought he was an interior designer too, but he's also a Classic FM DJ), Meat Loaf (!) and, this the grand coup, Rolando Villazón.
A fine tenor of true operatic pedigree, Villazón has been having terrible vocal trouble of late and this digression into the world of pretend-opera may well be the man dabbling in the commercial during a protracted convalescence. Rupert Christiansen, writing for the Daily Telegraph about this show has an interesting opinion on his involvement.
The taken-as-read roster concludes with Andrea Bocelli & Susan Boyle.
As for the participants, well it's again a good broad mix of age and background, though everyone is already music-oriented. Alex James is probably the joker in the pack, given his showing in the BBC's Maestro. Young and pretty is covered by a couple of out-and-out popstars, McFly's Danny Jones and The Saturdays' Vanessa White as well as Klass' former band-mate Kym Marsh and the reality-pop chameleon Darius (NB, Darius Campbell, that is, having changed his surname for the show).
The older contestants are Bernie Nolan and Jimmy Osmond who, I suspect, may be better placed to do well in the show having had a career in singing rather than the posing that constitutes so much of modern pop performance. I think the wild card though is Marcella Detroit, formerly of Shakespeare's Sister and about whom few from the worlds of opera/crossover-wallpaper know anything at all. Will she be a good, fresh blast of rock-n-roll in this otherwise cliché-moribund exercise in beige schedule-filling (and shameful arts mis-education)?
The show starts on January the 15th, going to air at 9pm on Friday evenings.