Reality TV can be a wasteland of bared undergarments and talentless hacks with too much botox. But when Jackie Evancho, 10, launched into a heart-wrenching rendition of "Il Mio Babbino Caro" on America's Got Talent on August 11, audiences saw the kind of reality that talent shows long for: real talent.
It was not surprising when America's Got Talent revealed that Evancho had advanced to the competition's semi-finals. Evancho's technique and on-stage presence are as polished as her 10-year-old voice. The gently rolled R's in her "Il Mio Babbino Caro" could have hidden her age for any bel canto fan - and perhaps an Italian or two. Viewers of her YouTube audition video voted overwhelmingly in her favor, propelling her from corporate holiday parties in her native Pittsburgh onto TV's across the country.
Bloggers have compared Evancho to Scottish contestant Susan Boyle, after Boyle's memorable performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" on Britain's Got Talent launched her into stardom in 2009. Evancho, like Boyle, is an unlikely candidate with a big voice, but in her Barbie-pink dress Evancho has the good fortune to look like a young Jodie Foster.
If you missed Evancho's big performance, never fear. Reality TV lives an entire lifetime on the Internet, so check out some clips of Evancho belting it out before she writes her memoir.
Here is the full video of her performance on America's Got Talent:
The song is the same, but the delivery without all the glitz and production is just as affecting:
According to Evancho, The Phantom of the Opera is the show that sparked her love of singing. Here she is singing "Think of Me":
Not even the acoustics of a small-town stage make Evancho's performance sound tinny in this pared down performance: