Beyond Imagination

Opera purists won't be happy with this latest classical crossover.

Opera purists won't be happy with this latest classical crossover. The Babes—soprano Rebecca Knight and mezzo soprano Karen England—have added lyrics to Grieg and Beethoven, syncopated Dvorak's New World Symphony, and otherwise taken liberties with revered works. But purists aren't the target audience for this sexy duo. As crossover performers, the Babes are more successful. Classically trained England and Knight have legitimate (albeit not world-class) operatic voices, which they wisely don't push over the top in every number. And they manage to create some memorable, catchy, pop-accessible songs, including their mostly traditional, well-paced Flower Duet from Lakmé and a distinctly unconventional but intriguing version of "Un Bel Di" from Madame Butterfly performed as a duet and layered with Japanese drums. An uneven disc, but still one of popera's more inspired offerings.—WH