Classical

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

xx

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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Last week I gave you my top Six Sensational Songs from Alfie Boe and asked for your nominations – I was deluged with them!  Thank you to everyone who sent in their six (it is possible to choose just six!) and in no particular order, the first set was chosen by Betty Valentine.  This is what Betty had to say about when and where she was Boed:

I started following Alfie in early 2011 when, like a lot of us on this side of the Atlantic, I saw him in the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables on PBS. I was blown away by his voice and stage presence and actually travelled to London that fall to see him live in the West End. Since then I have followed his career, collected his music and have seen him live twice more.

Betty’s six songs are:

In My Daughter’s Eyes, chosen because, as Betty says “the song always makes me think of my deceased parents”. If you are either a daughter or a mother of a daughter then this song can’t fail to move you.

Betty chose Come What May because of the “romantic sentiments of long lasting love” – and I chose this video because I love Laura Wright and because Alfie makes me laugh in it!

In Betty’s words, she picked this song because not only is it beautiful, “the melody and the words… form a beautiful poem of thanksgiving for nature and our world”.  A lot of you agree as Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna made it all the way to the number two position in our very first Best Ever Alfie Boe Song poll in 2014.

Recondita Armonia was chosen to highlight Alfie’s operatic talent and I chose this video as it’s a great excuse to see Matt and Alfie again!

A Living Prayer and Abide With Me were both chosen for their beauty and also, for the “healing and comfort derived from them in difficult times”.

Thank you Betty for sharing your Six Senational Songs with us.

If you would like to share your six favourite songs with us, please send them (and your reasons why) in this form:

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Welcome to Six Sensational Songs, a new occasional series of blog posts featuring fans talking about their favourite Alfie Boe songs and why they are our favourites.  As the title suggests, each post will feature just six songs – it might seem a herculean task to choose just six but you can do it!  Details of how to send in your six favourites will be given later so keep reading!

As today marks the first anniversary of thoughtsofjustafan becoming the Official Alfie Boe Fan Blog, I’ll start us off.

Keep Me In Your Heart:

None of you will be surprised that this is my first choice but this particular video is from the last date of the 2016 Together tour and was a really special night, so glad I was able to be there.  I’m always asked what it is about this song that I love – and yes, at lot of the appeal comes down to one line “like the buttons on your blouse”.  What can I say – I love this song and it helps that it’s from my favourite Alfie album, Trust.

You Are My Heart’s Delight:

This was the first song I ever heard Alfie sing live and I was lucky enough to be in the company of the fabulous Linda Wellington (whose birthday it is today!) on a blisteringly hot day in September.  Alfie’s autobiography had been released the previous week (I first met Linda at the book signing) and knowing that this song was so personal to Alfie made it even more special. This is just one of Alfie’s appearances at Proms in the Park and, we hope, there will be many more to come.

Love Reign O’Er Me:

Never having been a Who fan or a fan of rock opera, I was dubious about Alfie singing Classic Quadrophenia – or I was until I heard this song.  Spine tingling doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about Alfie singing this or any part of Classic Quad.  The world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in July 2015 was one of the best evenings of my life and I know that anyone who was there feels the same.

Suspicious Minds:

Alfie singing Elvis is frequently one of my most popular subjects and the day that we heard Suspicious Minds at Carfest South in 2013 still ranks in top five Alfie concerts.  The 45 minute set was absolutely perfect for the setting and Alfie had the crowd, not to mention Chris Evans, completely in the palm of his hand.

Angel:

Jimi Hendrix’s Angel was a song I had never heard before Alfie’s Storyteller tour but as with nearly everything else that Alfie sings (there are exceptions, but not many), I fell in love with the song.  We haven’t heard this since Storyteller and maybe that’s right as it fitted in perfectly with that tour – but I do miss it.  If you’re reading this Alfie, please bring it back, just once!

Brindisi:

It was a struggle to choose just six songs and you might have noticed that there are actually eight songs in the videos as some videos contain two songs (not cheating, I promise!).  I’ve chosen Alfie’s duet on Brindisi with Lesley Garrett as the chemistry between them makes the song.  And Alfie nearly missing his first note due to laughing is worth another look every time.  Not everyone likes opera Alfie but I would dearly love to hear him singing this live.  It’s not unthinkable – he’s given us Nessun Dorma, Recondita Armonia and La Donna e Mobile in recent years after all.

Now, I’m sure that you’ll all have your own choices so if you want to share them with us, please fill in the form below.  You’ll need to choose six songs, they can be live or recorded but if you want a particular video to accompany your choices, please mention it.  Please also tell us why you have chosen them.

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O Sole Mio / Now or Never in Swindon on the Bring Him Home tour:

Seems a long time ago now doesn’t it?  Of course it is now five years since we saw Alfie do so many solo tour dates.  It’s been a while since I’ve sat and watched this combination of O Sole Mio and Now or Never and I’d forgotten how effective it was.  Lots of you haven’t though as it featured in the top ten of last year’s Best Alfie Boe Live Song.

O Sole Mio was written in 1898 and has been recorded and performed by huge numbers of people, making it one of the most famous Neapolitan songs around.  Alfie himself sang it on his 2007 album La Passione although that hasn’t stopped him having to explain that it’s not about ice cream to UK audiences.  For those of you outside our sunny shores, the tune of O Sole Mio was the theme of Cornetto ice cream TV adverts for a ten year period in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  It’s certainly where I remember it from originally.

La Passione is available here:

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Into the third week of the Alfie Boe Michael Ball Together tour and it’s the turn of our Nottingham guest reviewer, Heather Moore to tell us her thoughts on the tour.  Heather has been a Michael Ball fan since she was twelve years old, first having seen him singing One Step Out Of Time at the Eurovision song contest.  Three years later, she first saw him live in Passion.  Heather found Alfie seven years ago via an early album and the DVD of La Boheme.  With all this in mind, it’s fair to say that hopes were high for Heather’s first concert of this tour.  This is what she says:

There was a buzz before Alfie and Michael took to the stage; everyone was looking forward to a great night and that’s what this twinkling twosome delivered.  Alfie was really bouncing off the audience and the Concert Hall seemed to suit him more than the Nottingham Arena where I had seen his concert two years before.  It felt more personal somehow and more interactive with lots of laughs on stage. Alfie even joked with the ushers.  Michael was enjoying himself too.  The reason we were all there was the music and these gentleman didn’t disappoint. The music choices were super, of course many of the songs from the new album, starting with Somewhere where we were transported into the musical theatre world. I loved A Thousand Years and the Wonderful World and Somewhere Over the Rainbow medley worked very well. The backdrops were fantastic too – the graphics added to the special feeling for the occasion.

I thought Michael and Alfie’s voices blended well together and it didn’t feel like they were competing with each other, instead they complimented each other.  I also enjoyed the solo spots.  Alfie got all the audience singing along to Keep Me In Your Heart – it was great fun watching Alfie bounce around the stage.  Michael used his spot to sing the very powerful Gethsemane and Michael’s story of watching Jesus Christ Superstar as an eleven year old was touching.  Of course Michael sang Love Changes Everything and of course the whole audience sang along.

The orchestra and the singers Izzy, Tori  and Lauren were great although I would have liked them to have been brought in a bit more on the Les  Miserables segment but that’s only a small point.  The Les Miserables section got the first standing ovation of the night.  I also loved the Elvis and James Bond medleys.  Michael singing Skyfall was a highlight for me. The show ended all too soon but that’s what happens when you’re having fun! The closing song was my favourite ever song  You’ll Never Walk Alone and as we all stood and clapped and waved to the brilliant pair this was a fantastic end to a fabulous evening.

I have been a fan of these two for a long while and I will continue to follow these talented chaps for I hope many years to come.

Thanks Heather for a great review – here are Alfie and Michael singing Somewhere (thanks Linda W for sharing):

If anyone wants to see Alfie back in his opera days, La Boheme is available here (it’s in English and very accessible so don’t let the thought of opera put you off!):

la-boheme

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