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Interview: In Marie Osmond's Unexpected New Album, the World Goes Round

Osmond debuts her latest record, a collection of songs from the worlds of opera and musical theater.

In a Christmas season gift to her fans, beloved singer Marie Osmond is releasing her new album, titled Unexpected, on December 10. The content of the record really is unexpected for those who only know Osmond as a pop and country vocalist — it's filled with showtunes and arias, including "Children Will Listen," "But the World Goes 'Round," "Climb Every Mountain," "Nessun Dorma," and more. Here, she tells us about its creation and the 20 years of training that led to this moment.

Marie Osmond
(© David Schwep)

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

This is an eclectic track list that blends opera and musical theater. Why did you pick these genres for your new album?
I was born on my dad's birthday, and every year, he would always take me to go buy a vinyl album. And you would think that I would go get country or pop or something, but I always went back to the Broadway tunes and the operas. They just touched my heart. There was something about the live aspect that was just amazing to me, and the symphonic sound, especially.

I was 12 and a half when I had my first No. 1 record, "Paper Roses" and everything was live. As an adult, I was a Rodgers and Hammerstein girl for a while. When I did The King and I on Broadway and The Sound of Music, I remember I went in and I said, "I can't sing 'The Hills Are Alive' with a country accent." And the lady who was training me said, "Honey, you're a soprano. You can even sing opera." And I was like, "Well, shut up!" I spent the last 20 years just learning those different techniques and styles and have just loved it.

How did you settle on the track list, knowing how much music there is in each of these categories?
It was so hard to choose! That's why it ended up being a 17-song album. All of these songs have great meaning to me. "Unexpected Song" is an Andrew Lloyd Webber song, and I chose that to be the name of the album. I'm blown away daily by my fans, and this album is my thank you to them because there's no way that I would be here in my sixth decade or even have had the opportunity to take 20 years to learn to sing another style of music if it weren't for them. So, being here is really unexpected.

I didn't want to put too much opera on there because I didn't want to scare people, so I put "On My Own" from Les Miz, which is one of my favorite songs; "The World Goes Round," which is Kander and Ebb. Fans request that song a lot, and it's a really hard song to sing because it's a belt song.

"Nessun Dorma" had to be on there — I remember seeing the Zeffirelli production of Turandot at the Met and it took my breath away, so that was the first song I chose. Handel's "Lascia ch'io Pianga" is one of the most gorgeous songs ever written and there's a reason it's lasted the test of time. It's one of those songs that, vocally, was fun, because you don't swoop into it. You drop into every note clearly.

I know you do a lot of operatic music in your concerts. How do the fans react to that? It doesn't seem like something you'd hear in a regular concert.
I performed in Vegas for 11 years, and when you're in a residency, you really have a hard time doing anything else. But I would try things out. I did "Nessun Dorma" and they seemed to really like it, and that's really what led to the album. It's really like being on QVC. You know in 10 seconds when you've got a good product or a bad product. That's what's great about live — you can tell when they really like it. That gave me the courage to move forward and put this album together.

You're embarking on a holiday season tour. Tell me about that and your other projects.
I love touring. I'm doing it with Daniel Emmet, who sings "The Prayer" with me on this album. That kid is a talent. Watch where he goes. And then David Osmond is going to be in the show. He took over Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for Andrew Lloyd Webber to fill Donny's shoes. Donny couldn't be Joseph anymore. He was too old, so he had to be Ruben. I'm kidding. [laughs] But David is so talented, too. You'll see. And then in 2022, I've already got symphonic dates planned to do the album.

All of this allows me to have time — a residency locks me down too much right now. I produced a film that's coming out on December 10 for Lifetime called A Fiancé for Christmas. When you see holiday movies, they're all kind of two-note characters and the rest is just fluff, but this is really fun. Every character is interesting. I play the mother and she's a little bit of a…piece of art. I'm just trying to push myself to try other things now, like producing and acting. I'm just so blessed.

Preorder the album here (paid link).

Get tickets for Marie Osmond's Symphonic Christmas tour here.

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