Opera

It’s been a while since we looked at Six Sensational Songs and with so much happening in the next few months, it might be a while until we feature the series again, so let’s go into the weekend with six fantastic songs chosen by Kathryn Richards.  Kathryn has been following Alfie since first seeing him on Parkinson in 2007.

Stranger in Paradise, was chosen because it was indeed the first time Kathryn heard or saw Alfie and the song that made her fall in love.

E Lucevan E Stelle, chosen because this was the second time Kathryn saw Alfie and as he was singing opera, she thought “wow what a voice”.

God Give Me Strength, chosen because “I love this song and the video of him at the Scottish Proms was really good.”

Marechiari, chosen by Kathryn because “it always puts a smile on my face, a very catchy tune”.

Torna A Sorriento, chosen because “it transports me to Italy, a great summer song”.

Agnus Dei, chosen after Kathryn ” bought You’ll Never Walk Alone CD and the lovely haunting sound to Alfie’s voice gives me goosebumps and tears.”

I’m still astounded that fans continue to add new songs to our Six Sensational Songs playlist; of Kathryn’s six, four have not been chosen before.

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With the Together Again tour coming ever closer, and the Australian tour even closer, it’s time to find out which song is really the fans favourite.  Thank you to everyone who sent in their nominations, we have six new songs added to the list.  Will last year’s winner, Run, win again?

To help you decide, here is the playlist of all the songs nominated:

Get voting – you should be able to vote multiple times!

Voting will close at the end of next week and we’ll begin counting down shortly after!

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…at the opening of the Blackpool Illuminations:

Another one for those who like the fresh faced Alfie as opposed to those who prefer the beard – no guesses which camp I’m in!

In 2006, Alfie was promoting his debut album, Classic FM Presents and the music choice reflects that, starting with Jerusalem and ending with the classical crowd pleaser, Nessun Dorma.   Alas, at that time, despite being well known locally, Alfie wasn’t well known enough to actually turn on the famous illuminations; I bet they’d love to have him do it now though!  Next year Alfie?

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Over half way through the year and as time counts down to Alfie’s upcoming appearances with Pete Townshend and Billy Idol in Classic Quadrophenia across the pond, we turn to an American fan, Nancy Webb for her choice of six favourite Alfie Boe songs.  I first met Nancy on the Serenata tour of 2014 when she and some fellow US fans joined us for a memorable train ride to Cardiff for the last night of that tour.  Two near misses with missing passengers (both going and returning!) and lots and lots of chat and giggles accompanied by my mum’s mince pies frame the memories of that wonderful trip.  Let’s look at Nancy’s choices:

Nessun Dorma, in Matt Lucas’s kitchen.  Nancy says “This was the first song that came up on Google after I saw Alfie in the 25th Anniversary concert. Alfie’s power stunned me again but the humour and gentle humanity of the man won my heart.”

Addio Sogni Di Gloria.  Nancy says “What can I say. I just love it! Alfie could blow the roof off a building when he sings this one. I voted for it as my favourite of the year in the last contest.”  It was a very worthy winner in 2016!

Stranger in Paradise, Parkinson – Nancy says “Another stunner! He was so young, so handsome and so amazing. Several people have said over the years that this was the performance that made them fans (pre Les Mis days). I already loved his voice, but this made me sit up and pat myself on the back for having excellent taste. He is just great here.”

Amazing Grace (starts 14m 21).  Nancy says the song is”a personal favourite since I was a teenager, but no one had ever sung it the way I wanted to hear it…missing notes, straining to hit the highs, flat etc. When I saw the old video of Alfie fronting for the Fron Male Voice Choir and he started to sing this, I actually had tears in my eyes. No problem hitting the high notes and then going higher….just beautiful. Not to be morbid, but I have asked my daughter to play this at my funeral (many years from now, of course)”.

Rank Stranger – Nancy says “I can not get over the absolute silence in the auditoriums/arenas when he sings this…not a cough or a shuffle, hardly a breath. When he finishes, there is a second more of silence as people come back to earth and then the applause. It is just wonderful!”

Agnus Dei – Nancy says “the crystal clarity/purity of this song makes me catch my breath every time I play it. I have it on his You’ll Never Walk Alone compilation, but did not find out where he recorded it originally until much later. That CD, Eternal Light: A Requiem, is so very beautiful, and Alfie could make an angel cry with happiness.

Thanks Nancy for letting us share your six sensational songs – the thing I love most about this series is enjoying songs and videos from the past, it’s been a while since I saw the one from the days when Alfie supported the Fron Male Voice Choir.

If you would to share your favourite Alfie songs with us, fill in the form!

 

…songs from his debut album, Classic FM Presents:

I would dearly love to hear Alfie sing these arias again to hear how his voice has matured.  We did hear Nessun Dorma on the Serenata tour of 2014 and Alfie has sung the odd aria over the years but I still want to hear more!

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.

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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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