On June 14, 2007, a mobile-phone salesman named Paul Potts won the 2007 competition on “Britain’s Got Talent”, a UK show that may be likened to “America’s Got Talent” or “American Idol” (all three shows are attributable to Simon Cowell).

While shows like this often provide what might be considered “flash in the pan” talents, some of whom win purely on audience appeal rather than any actual ability, Potts has earned his place. Below is his finalist performance on the show. He won, among other things, the privilege of performing before the Queen.

What does he sing? Opera.

There may yet be hope for civilization. Simon Cowell, when interviewed about Paul, said that it had always been his vision that the show would one day give wide exposure to someone who was otherwise ordinary, with an ordinary job, who had a remarkable, undiscovered talent.

Of course, Paul is not entirely untrained. He did take voice lessons in Italy, at his own expense (as a hobby). He has also performed without pay in various amateur venues. But as horrible auditions on “American Idol” prove, all the voice lessons in the world can’t help someone who has no gift.

I’m reassured by Paul’s win. His appeal was not only to the judges (Simon Cowell, who is notoriously blunt in his assessments, declared Paul’s first audition in Cardiff to be “absolutely fantastic”), but to the general public of Britain, who declared him the best of the contestants this year.

The first audition in Cardiff, (above) is worth a look, too. Not only is his performance astounding for an amateur, but the way the whole tone of the theater changes is unmistakable. His presence, his voice, electrifies the room. Anyone who likes this guy needs to check out some of the great masters like Pavarotti. There is a great art in music beyond the realm of MTV and ClearChannel.

I’ll be buying his CD.

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