Page last updated at 21:13 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 22:13 UK

Jenkins responds to opera critics

Katherine Jenkins
Katherine Jenkins spoke at the opening night of the Hay festival

Katherine Jenkins has responded to critics who said she is not an opera singer.

The Classical Brit-winning artist told the opening night of the Hay Festival she never claimed to be an opera star.

But the singer, who won a six-record deal while still at college, told the audience opera was her long-term aim.

She was also questioned about her relationship with Strictly Come Dancing's Gethin Jones coyly admitting "he's fine".

The Neath-born singer started seeing the TV presenter from Cardiff after they met when she sang with Andrea Bocelli on the hit TV show.

Pressed for an answer she said: "Thank you for asking. Can I not say any more?"

The star was opening the annual literary festival in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, which will also see ex-US president Jimmy Carter, writer Gore Vidal and comedian Rob Brydon take to the stage.

Jenkins admitted she got "annoyed" when she came under criticism for her style of singing, such as when Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's described her as an 'opera fake' earlier this year.

As long as they ask me I'll keep going because it's something I feel so strongly about
Jenkins on her role as forces sweetheart

But she said: "I have always set myself as 30 the time to go into opera."

The singer, who is now 27, added: "I really, really want to go into opera and I am still studying behind the scenes."

She said she was due to perform with Placido Domingo and he has invited her to study with him, something which was "incredible".

She was in Hay to promote her book Time to Say Hello, which charts her life so far, including how she grew up in a loving family in south Wales.

She remembered how her musical life began with the church choir and paid tribute to the influence of her father, who died when she was just 15.

"He was so worldly-wise. He was so calm and serene," she said.

Jenkins said she was "amazed" at how far her career had gone in the last four years but said she took nothing for granted.

Katherine Jenkins (Picture: Rankin)
Katherine Jenkins says she hopes to study opera with Placido Domingo

Her role as forces sweetheart - inherited from Dame Vera Lynn - was of great importance to her.

She has already visited troops in Iraq twice as well as Afghanistan, Kosovo and Cyprus.

But she said: "As long as they ask me I'll keep going because it's something I feel so strongly about."

Jenkins is now famous as the mascot of the Wales rugby team and last weekend she sang the Welsh national anthem at the FA Cup final between Cardiff City and Portsmouth in Wembley.

She described how important being Welsh is to her and said she felt it gave her an advantage wherever she performed.

Singing at a young age in the Welsh Urdd Eisteddfod and as a soloist with male voice choirs had definitely helped launch her career.

But she said it was something more about her nationality and the support people in Wales give her.

"I am so grateful for all the support I have from people here in Wales. It means so much to me," she added.

The star has just completed a tour with ex-Royal Ballet star Darcey Bussell and she promised more shows of Viva La Diva would follow both in Australia and the UK.

But she said it was unlikely she would be a contestant like Gethin Jones on Strictly Come Dancing in the near future.

She said: "I'm a perfectionist. I like to give 110% to everything I do and I don't have the time right now."


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