Opera

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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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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…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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What exciting news to wake up to this morning – Alfie Boe is to return to London’s ENO for a limited season of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel.  In the semi staged show, Alfie will play Billy Bigelow opposite Katherine Jenkins’ Julie Jordan, a casting that reunites them immediately after their one off Dubai Opera appearance on March 30th.  The pair have worked together many times previously, including a sublime duet of Barcelona on Katherine’s album, Home Sweet Home.

Carousel is full of iconic songs and Alfie has sung two of them before: You’ll Never Walk Alone is the encore song for the current Together tour as well as featuring on the top ten album of the same name and If I Loved You appears on Bring Him Home:

Carousel is the latest in a line of ENO semi staged musicals to grace the London Coliseum, with Sweeney Todd and Sunset Boulevard gaining rave reviews and sell out audiences (Lonny Price who directed both shows will also direct Carousel).  You’ll notice that I haven’t included the ill-fated Kismet – the less said the better!  Jenkins will make her stage debut in this production of Carousel and that, coupled with Alfie’s legions of fans is bound to mean that the show will be amongst the most sought after in 2017.

Alfie last appeared at the London Coliseum with ENO in Jonathan Miller’s production of The Mikado back in 2011 and since then his career has taken him in a different direction although he has of course played the lead in two Broadway musical productions in the last year.  Will this announcement mean Alfie will take on more roles like this?  I can’t wait to find out!

Alfie and Katherine’s Barcelona is available here:

katherine jenkins

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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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Nessun Dorma on ITV’s Lorraine show:

This time, it’s thanks to Alfie for sharing!

As Lorraine Kelly says, amazing to hear such passion in such a fantastic voice – and early in the morning too!  Alfie was of course promoting his debut album, Classic FM Presents, an album that he doesn’t seem to be keen on, judging by his autobiography but is one that I listen to often.  I still think of myself as incredibly lucky to have heard Alfie sing Nessun Dorma on the Serenata tour two years ago – you could have a pin drop in all the arenas in which Alfie appeared.

Apart from the voice, the other things I love about this video are Alfie’s attire – an early indication that operatic arias and suits are not inextricably linked in Alfie’s mind – and how much he looks like Declan Donnelly throughout.  It seems to me that the likeness grows during the singing but of course that could just be me projecting…I pretty sure I’m not telling you anything new when I say I think Dec is cute too.  Check out Alf and Dec if you don’t believe me.

Alfie’s autobiography is available here:

alfie autobio

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Welcome to the nominations for the third annual Alfie Boe Best Ever (recorded) song poll – I know it doesn’t seem too long since we chose our favourite live song but we need something to keep us going over the summer, don’t we?

The current list of songs nominated in past years can be found on Spotify by clicking here – if your favourite song isn’t listed, please let me know and we’ll add to the list.  All you need to do is fill in the form*:

The only restriction is that it needs to be a song recorded by Alfie.

Nominations will close mid August ready for voting to begin shortly after and the top ten will be counted down from the end of August…which will be ten weeks until the start of the Ball and Boe tour!

The first winner was, to no one’s surprise, Bring Him Home but the second winner was from Alfie’s most recent album, Serenata, Addio Sogni do Gloria.  Bring Him Home didn’t even make the top three!  Will it make it back to the top this year?  It’s over to you – here’s last year’s top ten to help you think:

If you haven’t yet ordered Alfie’s forthcoming album with Michael Ball, it’s available here:

together

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