This Little Lady Loves…..Popera

by Susan Perry

What do you do if you’re born in the big City, raised in the ‘burbs and love opera? If you’re me you become a lawyer and hang around Covent Garden a lot, but if you’re 16 year old classical baritone and pop-opera singer Callum Bicknell, the possibilities are endless.

Classical crossover is getting hotter by the day and shows like Britain’s Got Talent are giving a wider audience to styles and pieces of music that might otherwise have been experienced only through adverts. We caught up with Callum and quizzed him on what he loves about London and what he thinks about everything from Pavarotti to The X Factor.

Callum has been singing for as long as he can remember and got his first break aged 11 playing Friedrich in The Sound of Music in local theatre. Since then he has appeared in Oliver and Whistle Down the Wind in regional shows and has worked with Norwich Operatic Society, appearing in their performances of Titanic and West Side Story.

Callum Bicknell

He loves a big audience saying he gets “such a wonderful feeling performing to a large crowd.” He is versatile enough to be comfortable in a smaller venue and put his own show together at the Edinburgh Fringe festival last August (“pOperatically Speaking”).

Callum loves the Covent Garden area and after many trips to the ROH enjoys “the association of excitement about experiencing a new opera”. His inspirations include young Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo, who he’s seen in Manon, but also legendary voices Pavarotti and Boccelli, saying “They all bring something different and new which inspires me. I have still a lot to learn so I am trying to listen to as many different singers as I can. I can probably produce a similar list for pop and rock. I find I am constantly discovering someone new.”

Classical music, Callum realises, still “has a ‘geeky’ image” but he believes artists like Katherine Jenkins and Russell Watson have helped pave the way for the future of classical crossover and he hopes that his age will help the under 25s get into the genre “as they may find it easier to relate to someone of 16 singing classical music and see that you do not have to be old to appreciate it.”

So, what does the boy from Hammersmith, about to hit the big time, think about The X Factor? “I think these reality shows are fine as long as the contestants realise that it is a show and not strictly a talent contest as such. If all we had to watch were brilliant singers, I think people would have tired of it long ago. It is the flops everyone enjoys watching!”

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For further information relating to Callum, contact Ryan James PR –

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