But to be fair, there is nothing like a live performance and no recording ever does a good singer justice. As I said earlier, standing a few feet from Mary-Jess when she was rehearsing that was awesome! And perhaps I prefer her performance to the others partly because it was live. Apart from Mary-Jess, the only others among those mentioned that I might have heard sing it live are Classical Reflection. They are great too, but it isn't fair to compare live performances to recordings.
To be fair, I had yet to play one of the videos. Upon finally listening (to CR, Sarah Brightman, Sierra, and Jackie, in that order) I realized I barely even knew the song, anyway.
The verdict is: I DO prefer Sarah's out of all of them. Second place goes to Hannah & Naomi! Sierra... too much warbly opera for me. Even Sarah didn't do that, but then, I don't believe she studied opera until after her time on broadway. Also, it's not an opera song. Jackie's was last place, though. I did not end up listening to the entirety of Sierra's or Jackie's.
Well Sierra's version is more heavily acted than any of the others at the start, then there's the tenor's part, but the final soprano section is what sells me Sierra's version in the comparison, as they all sing it just like a song, if you see what I mean. But if you aren't so keen on the more operatic sound, I see where you are coming from.
Yeah, most people if I told them I was a Sarah Brightman fan, they'd assume I like opera. My likes are a little mixed. Hayley's versions of arias got me into the songs and music of opera, but still not opera singing itself. It's the reason why, even though I had heard Sarah sing before, I didn't think I'd ever like her because she was more opera. And I kind of just forgot about her for a while while I was busy being a Hayley fan (when there was some music, concerts, and other events to keep me going!). I only became a fan after I saw that she was supposed to be coming to Seattle. I wondered if I should try to go, and started listening to her music. I loved what I heard and wondered why I hadn't become a fan earlier! Well, I'm almost glad, because becoming a fan while waiting for Hayley's never-appearing album has kept me somewhat happily distracted. I've bought quite a few of her albums and coinciding DVDs in the last 2 years. I was very disappointed when her concert was canceled, and am looking forward to my next chance to see her live. And even though it's been over 2 years since I did become a fan, I was kept happy enough with discovering her old albums that it hasn't given me much time to get impatient for HER next album. I didn't even really know if she would have another album. Oh, well, I guess when she was planning to go to space, I knew she was hoping to do some new music up there, but all that seems to be over.
So, anyway, as far as opera goes, I STILL wouldn't say I'm a fan of opera singing, because I can only tolerate certain ones. I can tolerate it, and in some cases, appreciate it, more than I used to. I do think Sierra has a very good soprano voice. I think I would tolerate her tone better than many opera singers out there, but still, the operatic touch to the song made it a little over the top for me.
Now, I can't hate opera too much if I can appreciate some Pavarotti. Others here shockingly think his sound is a little much for them, and yet they find Bryn's to be listenable. Ha! Pavarotti may be able to sing the roof off a building, but he least he sounds good doing it! He didn't become such an icon of opera for nothing! He's simply the best of his time! Others may have tried to follow, but none can truly compare. Andrea Bocelli is the closest, IMO. The harshness of the rest are like nails on a chalkboard.
After dozens of versions of her National Anthem performance appeared on YouTube, fans quickly became aware that they varied widely in how they sounded. Apparently it depended on what TV station they were recorded from. Some used only the direct mic feed, others the ambient sound from the PA system, others a combination of the two. There was a lot of discussion about that among Jackie's fans. It's unfortunate that the one that invariably comes up at top on a YT search is the ABC network one, which is one of the worst. The one on Jackie's YT channel probably gives the best idea what it sounded like to the audience there. www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSjHBSKtgls
Of course it was worth a lot to her for the publicity. Several concerts immediately after were sold out. From this fan's perspective, she did a pretty good job of establishing that her performance was not political, in the many interviews. I hope not, but the backlash might be more damaging among the many show business contacts she has established over the years. She did say that some selections for her upcoming CD Two Hearts were lost because permission was withdrawn. I could load this thread up with interviews, but I'll restrain myself to just this one from ITV's Good Morning Britain: