Joe McElderry has been crowned champion of Popstar to Operastar 2011 after taking on Cheryl Baker in a closely fought final.

The 20-year-old former X Factor winner triumphed after a show which saw him duet with judge Rolando Villazon and take part in a group performance as well as reprise his rendition of Nessun Dorma from earlier in the series.

Runner-up Cheryl duetted with panellist Katherine Jenkins during the show as well as reprising her performance of the aria Je Veux Vivre from the opera Romeo and Juliette.

Joe appeared speechless after the result was announced – although recovered in time to sing the praises of his fellow finalist.

“Honestly, I’ve had an absolute blast with Cheryl,” he said. “I love her to bits.”

And Cheryl was similarly enthusiastic about Joe.

“I didn’t expect to get this far and he’s fantastic,” the Bucks Fizz singer said. “I had my money on Joe from the beginning. I’ve loved it.”

Earlier in the show the judges had raved about Joe’s performances, especially his performance of Musica Proibita with Rolando Villazon.

“Joe eclipsed Rolando completely,” Simon Callow said. “What was fantastic was that tonight you had passion and temperament in spades.”

And Vanessa-Mae was also impressed. “You held your own, I think this had to be one of your proudest moments singing with Rolando, you should be very proud. That was astounding as usual.”

Rolando, meanwhile, was just as enthusiastic about Joe’s performance of Nessun Dorma – which won him a standing ovation from the audience.

“If anybody had a doubt whether you can sing with passion, that is it,” he said. “If you are impressed with what you have done in six weeks wait to see what you can do within two years.”

Cheryl’s rendition of Je Veux Vivre also had the audience on their feet – and the judges loved it too.

My voice has been refreshed. for a singer and for me that is just so exciting.

“I thought that was so much more improved than last time you sung it,” Katherine told her. “I actually had tears in my eyes, it was brilliant.”

“It was pure joy and that is what the aria is all about,” Simon added. “It’s a wonderful skill to be able to convey joy through music but it was wonderful.”

Joe’s victory in the show comes just months after he was dropped by Simon Cowell’s Syco label, which he signed to after winning the 2009 series of The X Factor.

He revealed this week he has signed a new record deal – and said on Sunday’s show that he hopes to continue with the operatic singing.

“My voice has been refreshed. For a singer and for me that is just so exciting,” he admitted. “This is not the end of opera for me. I will definitely sing more opera and who knows, lets see what happens.”

He and Cheryl fought off competition from six other pop stars who took part in the series, including Midge Ure, soul diva Jocelyn Brown, Erasure frontman Andy Bell, Toploader’s Joseph Washbourne, former Steps singer Claire Richards and the Pussycat Dolls’ Melody Thornton.

Sunday’s show also featured a performance from opera star Andrea Bocelli, who performed solo as well as singing with Rolando and Katherine.