Classical

Two years after the triumphant world premiere of Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia (CQ) Alfie Boe and Billy Idol return to join Townshend in a limited run of US dates (click here for tickets).  Kicking off at Tanglewood on 2 September, the show will play two nights (9 – 10 September) at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York before finishing at The Greek Theatre, LA on 16 September.  Keith Lockhart will conduct at Tanglewood with the Boston Pops Orchestra and this will be familiar to Alfie as he has previously worked with both, when he recorded with them for their 2005 Christmas album, Sleigh Ride.  The original CQ conductor, Robert Ziegler will conduct for the other performances.

 

Alfie says that he is “thrilled to be joining Classic Quadrophenia for a limited run of US shows” and I confidently predict that quite a lot of Alfie fans will be thrilled too!  Since CQ was announced as a project in late 2014, US fans have been extremely keen to see Alfie perform this music and I urge everyone with the slightest chance of seeing it to beg, steal or borrow but basically do whatever it takes to see Alfie in the role of Jimmy – I would love to see it again.  An added bonus is the presence of Billy Idol, who was a surprising highlight for me at the original show.

When I first interviewed Alfie about CQ, he had yet to perform the show and I asked him about the recording process.  Apparently, Alfie said, it took “a good few hours.  The sound is almost like a live recording of my vocals as it was really flowing, we were really in the groove”.  I asked Alfie how difficult it was to sing and although some parts are trickier than others, the most difficult for him was getting the emotional intensity right.  “It’s an emotional piece and you have to understand what you are singing and the emotional intent behind it and then you’re alright”.

The Who’s historic rock opera Quadrophenia was of course originally released as an extensive double album in 1973 and has stood the test of time as a conceptual work honouring the Mod movement. The album, later turned into a feature film and theatrical production, follows an angst-ridden young man in London who creates a new life for himself as a member of the Mods.  Talking about the classical incarnation, Pete Townshend says ““I’m thrilled to be bringing Classic Quadrophenia stateside through the month of September. Melding the contrasting sounds of Quadrophenia with a symphony has been a really unique and powerful way to reach a wide audience of classical and pop music lovers alike. I couldn’t be more excited to see it continue in the U.S.”

Tickets go on sale on 13 June – click here.

 

Saturday, September 2          Lenox, MA             Tanglewood

Saturday, September 9          New York, NY        Metropolitan Opera House

Sunday, September 10           New York, NY        Metropolitan Opera House

Saturday, September 16        Los Angeles, CA     The Greek Theatre

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Welcome to the fourth in the occasional series celebrating Six Sensational Songs from Alfie Boe – each post features six songs chosen by a thoughtsofjustafan reader and this time it’s the turn of Sheila Currie.  Sheila first became an Alfie fan after seeing him in Les Mis on PBS and recently saw him in concert in New York, also having the opportunity to wish him well before the concert!  Sheila says about Alfie:

I could pick many more than six songs, certainly. Alfie Boe is someone who will not pass this way again in my lifetime. His voice goes in my ear directly to my heart.

Here we go with Sheila’s songs:

A Living Prayer, also chosen by Betty Valentine, was chosen by Sheila because “this was on the first CD I bought of Alfie’s after his Les Mis performance on PBS. I loved the video especially. He takes this song of Alison Krause to a hymn like quality.”

If I Loved You, from Carousel – this one might be very popular amongst Alfie fans these days!  Sheila says “I sang this song growing up in school choir and it just pulls at my heartstrings.”

Bridge Over Troubled Water was chosen by Sheila as it ” reminded me of my early married life during Vietnam era. I loved it then just as much”.

Forever Young, chosen  because “Alfie’s reworking of this Dylan song to remind us of those who have sacrificed for us was incredible, especially the PBS Memorial Day concert”.

Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna, also chosen by Betty Valentine, was chosen by Sheila  because “this beautiful song reminds me of my voice teacher and her passion for Italian opera”.

Where’er You Walk.  As Sheila says “An old song but I can still sing it as if it was just yesterday.

Thank you Sheila for sharing your six sensational songs with us.

If you would like to see your favourite songs featured here, complete the form below, telling me your six songs and why they are your favourites.  

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Song number three is last year’s number one, Love Reign O’er Me from Classic Quadrophenia (CQ):

This song, perhaps more than any other from Classic Quadrophenia, shows off Alfie’s vocal strength and versatility.  The high notes are just majestic, there’s no other word for it, whilst the quieter moments have such warmth and restraint.  Anyone who has been lucky enough to see Alfie sing this live will attest to the power of his voice.  Hearing it at the premiere of Classic Quad at the Royal Albert Hall was one of the best musical experiences of my life.  Quite simply took my breath away.

The song was originally performed by Roger Daltrey but here is Pete Townshend at Symfunny 2 last month:

Anyone who gets the chance to hear Alfie sing CQ in its entirety should grab it with both hands – he is absolutely sublime in the role.  As and when those chances become available, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Classic Quadrophenia is available here:

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We have arrived at the half way stage of the fourth annual Alfie Boe best ever song poll and number five is a song that, having reached the top of this poll in 2015, missed the top ten altogether last year.  I’m of course talking about Addio Sogni Di Gloria:

From the 2015 album, Serenata, this song showcases Alfie’s glorious voice to perfection – one day I hope to hear him sing it again.

The song was originally recorded by Italian singer Luciano Virgili and written by Italian Carlo Innocenzi who wrote music for many Italian films from the 1940’s onward.  Translated, the title means Goodbye, Dreams of Glory and the poignancy of the song sits effortlessly against the glorious soaring melody.  The version I’ve chosen is by Giuseppe Di Stefano, whom Alfie has referenced as being a favourite of his in several interviews.  Not having listened to Di Stefano before I heard Alfie talk about him, I’ve now listened to a fair amount of his work and I have to agree with Alfie – Di Stefano has a wonderful voice:

Serenata is available here:

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If you celebrate Easter as a religious festival or just enjoy eating chocolate eggs, this time of year is a happy one.  Alfie is of course in London at the moment, appearing in Carousel – making this a very time of year for those of use lucky enough to see his wonderful performance.

As most fans will be aware, Alfie is from a strong Christian background and has often spoken of his faith and what it means to him.  He has also released a CD, Onward, which showcases Alfie singing hymns and spiritual songs.  One such, is A Living Prayer, three times voted into the top ten of Alfie Boe’s Best Ever Song:

This is taken from one of Alfie’s appearances on Songs of Praise, along with Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring:

Onward is available here:

Have a very happy and Blessed Easter

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The first song in the 2017 countdown takes us back to the earlier part of Alfie’s career, with the only representative from La Passione to make the list, Parlami D’amore Mariu:

This song featured in the first Best Ever Alfie Boe Song poll and came in there at number six – since then it hasn’t featured at all, possibly as we have seen a distinct move away from Alfie’s classical repertoire in the three poll since then.

Written for a film soundtrack, Gli Uomini Che MascalzoniParlami D’amore Mariu was written in 1932 by Cesare Andrea Bixio and Ennio Neri for the voice of Vittorio De Sica and translated, means “Tell Me That You Love Me”.  The original sounds like a film soundtrack but the most well know version is of course in the neapolitan style here sung by Giuseppe Di Stefano:

There are many other artists I could have chosen, including recently, Jonas Kauffman, but I chose this one as Alfie has previously mentioned Di Stefano as a favourite artist to listen to.

If you don’t yet have La Passione in your collection, it’s available here:

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Welcome to the third in thoughtsofjustafan’s occasional series, Alfie Boe’s Six Sensational Songs.  So far, you’ve seen my pick and that of Betty Valentine and now it’s the turn of Cathy Haley, an Alfie fan who has been with this blog almost since it started!  Here, Cathy tell us how she came to be Boe’d:

I started following Alfie in the spring of 2011. Like most of his North American fans, I saw him on PBS. It was a repeat broadcast of the 25th Les Mis concert and I had always been a huge Les Mis fan. We had seen the show twice with Michael Burgess and the CD with the original cast was played a lot in our house. So, I watched parts of the PBS broadcast and was taken with the fact that the JVJ was being played by someone who must be an opera singer. I looked him up the next day and was smitten. I spent a lot of time listening to radio interviews with him and watching YouTube. I laugh about it because I haven’t been a fan like that of anyone since I loved the Beatles in the early 60’s. I saw him live in Toronto 2012 which was the last stop on his North American tour during the tail end of a hurricane.
Last year, I travelled to NYC to see him on Broadway in Les Mis. As for the songs I chose, they are combinations of his power and his ability to sing softly with beauty. Most of them are very romantic.

Thanks Cathy – a lot of us start our ‘how we found Alfie’ stories with Les Mis!

Here are Cathy’s six songs:

Wheels of a Dream, chosen because “is the perfect vehicle for his voice since it really builds to a crescendo.”

Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna, chosen as “it has a lovely melody and is a folk song that has been given a classical treatment. Alfie’s voice is crystalline in the recording and not as deep as his present voice.”

Addio Sogni Di Gloria, chosen “again this has a great melody and the lows and highs that highlight his singing”.

Song to the Siren, from Alfie, and in recorded form, a duet with Robert Plant, long a musical idol for Alfie.  Cathy says ” I heard him sing it live in Toronto in 2012. He started off-stage with it and it was eerily beautiful.”

Parlami D’Amore Mariu, from La Passione.  This video shows the beauty of Alfie’s voice but also his cheeky sense of humour!

My Heart is Yours, from Serenata, chosen, in part, because ” it’s a romantic ballad and shows that he doesn’t have to always power out a song. I think that my favourites always have a melody that I am taken with. I am a huge classical fan and like any thing he sings of that genre”.

Thank you Cathy for sharing your Six Sensational Songs with us – so far, we have had only one song, Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna, chosen by two people, although Cathy did mention that were she permitted a seventh song, You Are My Heart’s Delight is pretty near perfect.

If you would like to see your six songs featured, fill in the form below:

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Voting has now closed in the 2017 Best Ever Alfie Boe song poll and the following playlist contains the top ten:

 

In 2016, the top ten looked like this:

1 – Love Reign O’er Me
2 – Dimming of the Day
3 – Trust
4 – Bring Him Home
5 – First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
6 – My Heart is Yours
7 – It’s Over
8 – A Living Prayer
9 – If You Go Away
10 – Forever Young

The first thing that strikes me about this year’s list is that there is only one song from Alfie’s most successful commercial album, Together – whether this has anything to do with it not being a solo album, I couldn’t say.

In contrast to previous years, Bring Him Home is now the only song to feature in every top ten, with just two more songs featuring in two top ten countdowns.  In addition to Anthem, there are two more new entries in Wheels of a Dream and In My Daughter’s Eyes.  This means that for the first time, A Living Prayer drops out of the top ten.

Last year we saw a definite move away from Alfie’s classical repertoire towards the rockier albums and 2017 continues in the same vein, albeit this time we are seeing a resurgence in the musical theatre songs.  I can definitely see the influence of Together in these choices – it seems that hearing Alfie sing a lot of musical theatre songs in recent months, as well as his appearance in Carousel has prompted more votes for this genre of music.  Trust remains the strongest album over all the polls so far, with Alfie having two tracks and one each for Bring Him Home, Classic Quadrophenia, Storyteller, Serenata, Together and La Passione.

Stay tuned for next week’s reveal of number 10 – we’ll be counting down until the beginning of the summer tour!

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…in Korean!  This was his one off appearance in Seoul, Korea and he sang a varied programme of classical, opera and musical theatre – and one song in Korean.  I understand the song is traditional but I have no idea what they are singing about!  The audience, soprano and conductor all seem very impressed though and his pronunciation seems, to my untutored ear) in time with the soprano:

The second song is one of my favourites from Alfie’s operatic repertoire, Brindisi from La Traviata.  Alfie looks as if he is enjoying this rare venture into operatic waters although I think he may have wanted to dance at one point and the dress had other ideas!

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More than six years after it was released, Love Was A Dream yesterday topped the UK classical charts.  Looking back, the last time I wrote about this fabulous album (my favourite after Trust and the best classical album), it had just entered the top ten classical album chart, then standing at number 4, ahead of Serenata at 6 and You’ll Never Walk Alone at 7.  This news is especially exciting for those of us who love this album as it’s probably one of the least known of Alfie’s albums.  Recorded and released with Linn Records before Alfie signed to Decca, the album is now part of Alfie’s back catalogue under the Decca umbrella.

From Alfie’s autobiography, My Story, you really understand the depth of feeling he has for Franz Lehar and for Love Was A Dream.  The opportunity to make the album came at a low point in Alfie’s professional life and clearly has an emotional connection for him, not least because Lehar was a favourite of his father. Alfie says:

That album has a real sentimental feel for me – vocally and emotionally and even technically….It was a really warm experience…one of my favourite albums I’ve done, certainly the most personal.

Anyone familiar with Alfie’s story knows that Lehar’s music is a personal favourite for him and his father, Alfred.  As well as singing You Are My Heart’s Delight (track 5) for his first D’oyly Carte audition, Alfie spent many a  Sunday lunchtime in the Boe household  listening to Alf senior’s music and Alfie  says that Richard Tauber was one of his father’s favourite singers.  Tauber became particularly well known for singing the song; indeed it comes from a 1929 operetta, The Land of Smiles, written for his voice by Lehar.  Here’s Alfie at the 2012 Proms in the Park:

The remainder of the tracks (click here to see the complete list) are taken from other Lehar operettas dating from 1905-1934.  Tracks 2 and 9 are from The Merry Widow (1905), an operetta that Alfie performed in with ENO in 2009 although Vilia (track 2) is sung by the Merry Widow herself.  Track 12 (Farewell, My Love Farewell) was the song that made Richard Tauber a star in 1922 and he then went onto originate a number of roles for Lehar  – the rest of the track list comprises songs that were created for Tauber’s voice.

Love Was A Dream is, for me, the perfect album for Alfie’s voice and my favourite classical album.  For me, it’s a much more romantic album than Serenata, which was promoted as his most romantic album yet (of the Decca albums, yes).

Love Was A Dream is available here:

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