Pearl Fishers

All posts tagged Pearl Fishers

…with Michael Ball at his Musicals Prom at the Royal Albert Hall.  Alfie and Michael had recently struck up a friendship after appearing together in the ENO production of Kismet.  As anyone who has seen / heard Michael talk about this production and / or read Alfie’s book, My Story will know, Kismet was not a particularly happy experience for all concerned.  As mentioned in an earlier On This Day post, Alfie almost leapt into the public’s consciousness with an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s chat show but as with so many other things it became yet another ‘nearly’ moment.

However, all was not lost as the burgeoning friendship between Alfie and Michael led to Alfie’s guest slot at the Prom – as far as I know his only appearance at the Proms proper (rather than Proms in the Park).

Michael is not a classically trained singer but he makes a lovely job of duetting with Alfie.  And if you want to hear what Michael had to say about ENO and Kismet, here is him talking on the Jonathan Ross show in 2007 (the Kismet talk starts about 7.15):

Wouldn’t it be lovely to hear Michael and Alfie sing together again?

Alfie’s My Story is available here (the ‘winter’ cover is also available):

alfie autobio

 

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….Au Fond Du Temple Saint, the baritone / tenor duet from Bizet’s opera The Pearl Fishers.  The baritone in this case was of course the wonderful Bryn Terfel and this rendition is rightly so a favourite amongst classical Alfie fans.  Thoughtsofjustafan’s favourite Alfie Boe duet poll last year saw Bryn and Alfie secure the top spot over Laura Wright and Barcelona.

As this opera nearly killed him*, you wouldn’t think that Alfie would have that much affection for it but he continued to sing it until relatively recently.  Je Crois Entendre Encore was a staple of his UK tour of summer 2012, albeit sung acapulco!  If you were there or seen the youtube videos, you’ll know what that means!

*And if you don’t know this story why not buy Alfie’s 2012 autobiography (click on the image below) – the first chapter tells all!

alfie autobio

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If you’ve read Alfie’s autobiography, My Story, you’ll know that The Pearl Fishers, which features Je Crois Entendre Encore, is probably not Alfie’s favourite opera.  You might recall that the first line of the book is “Bizet nearly killed me” (I don’t normally recall the opening line of biographies, but it’s a cracking opener).  As Alfie acknowledges, it wasn’t really Bizet’s fault; rather, Alfie suffered a bout of chlorine poisoning whilst filming a segment for the ENO production of the 1863 opera.

The Pearl Fishers is set in Ceylon and features a tenor (Nadir) and baritone (Zurga) both falling for the same soprano (Leila) who is having her own dilemma in choosing between secular love and her oath as a sacred priestess.  Although it was a not a brilliant success when it was first premiered, the music is often popular with modern audiences.  Indeed, Alfie’s duet with Bryn Terfel, Au Fond Du Temple Saint at the 2012 South Bank Show Awards topped the recent Alfie Boe Favourite Duet poll.

Je Crois Entendre Encore has been recorded by a number of tenors (inlcuding Alfie’s brother Michael on his recent album A La Voix), and also by other artists such as David Gilmour and Alison Moyet.  Gilmour’s interpretation was interesting but I liked Alison’s version.  The video below shows Alfie singing “acapulco” (watch the video if you don’t know what I mean) at Westonbirt Arboretum in 2012, but before you take a look, here is Janet Hudson’s story about her favourite Alfie Boe song:

My favourite Alfie song is Je Crois Entendre Encore as performed at Westonbirt Aboretum July 2012. My daughter had bought tickets and was taking me to the concert as a birthday treat. I was so looking forward to it and dared to hope Alfie would sing this song. Just a few days before the concert my then 12 year old grandson was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with Leukaemia. Needless to say we didn’t make the concert. Every time I hear Alfie singing this beautiful song I am moved to tears with all kinds of emotions. I am filling up now!! Happy to say Mikey is in remission and doing well x

Thank you Janet for sharing your Alfie story we all hope Mikey continues in remission xx

Thanks to Linda Wellington for sharing xx

If you don’t have the Classic FM album, click on the image below to order:

classic fm album

 

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I am often asked what it is about Alfie that I love – if this often happens to you as well, this post is for you to share with everyone that hasn’t yet been Boe’d so go ahead and click on the share buttons at the bottom of the post xx

So here goes – I’d love to know what you would add to this list!

1. This is his most famous song – do you need another reason to love Alfie?

2. Alfie hails from Fleetwood, Lancashire (although he was born in Blackpool in 1973).

3. Alfie is the youngest of nine siblings (4 boys and 5 girls) born to Alfred and Pat.

4. Alfie loves cooking and once considered becoming a chef (although he did once cut his finger on live TV!)

5. Other career changes considered include a personal trainer for the Salt Lake City police force.

6. Alfie is a Lyric Tenor which means his vocal range (excluding falsetto) is approximately the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the D one octave above middle C (D5) with the ability to extend a little to either side.

7. Alfie played Jean ValJean in the 25th Anniversary Les Miserables concert and at the Queens Theatre for 5 months in 2011 – but you all knew that one right?

8. When playing JVJ as The Mayor in Les Mis, Alfie used to wear the socks belonging to the convict JVJ costume in order to better inhabit the role.

9. Alfie is married to an American actress, Sarah Boe.  They met in San Francisco.

10. Alfie was the subject of a South Bank Show documentary in 2013.

11. Alfie once supported the Fron Male Voice Choir on tour.

12. David Miller of Il Divo was in La Boheme on Broadway with Alfie (they played alternate nights as Rodolfo).

13. Alfie recorded some demo Queen tracks at Abbey Road studios whilst a student – he listened back with obvious embarrassment on a recent documentary!

14. Alfie used to work at the Blackpool Opera House in a backstage / security role.

15. Alfie has recorded Empty Chairs, Empty Tables with two of the singers who played Marius: Michael Ball (original Marius and 10th anniversary concert) and Nick Jonas (25th anniversary concert).

16. Alfie was a body mechanic at the TVR factory in Bispham – if you know nothing else about Alfie, you know that!!

17. After graduating from the Royal College of Music, Alfie went on to train at the National Opera Studio.

18. Won the Christie prize at Glyndebourne for Albert Herring.

19. Appeared on several Clint Boon Experience albums as “opera dude”.

20. Spent a few nights sleeping on a park bench in Hyde Park “in between digs” so to speak.

21. Played drums in a local rock band, Whisky Train as a teenager.

22. Alfie is an ambassador for the Prince’s Foundation for Children and The Arts.

23. Alfie sang at the wedding of Peter and Autumn Phillips. (Ave Maria and Panis Angelicus).

24. Alfie famously prefers to perform in opera, rather than listen to them – this is usually quoted incorrectly as “Alfie hates opera”.

25. Alfie often takes fans cameras and phones and takes photos of himself and the band on stage – perks of being front row!

26. Alfie auditioned (and was called back) for Raoul in Phantom of the Opera – the RCM beckoned though and we shall have to imagine his Raoul.

27. Won a Tony Award as part of the cast of La Boheme on Broadway.

28. First professional audition was for the D’oyly Carte Opera company – he sang You Are My Hearts Delight.

29. Moonwalked across the stage during final performance of Romeo et Juliette at the Royal Opera House.

30. Appeared on Vanessa Feltz’s BBC Radio 2 programme as part of the Wednesday Words of Warmth – his tip to get through a Wednesday was to make a big bowl of meat pasta sauce.

31. West London Karaoke Champion 1994 singing Suspicious Minds.

32. First recording Alfie appears on is Die Fledermaus, with the D’oyly Carte company (in the chorus).

33. Suffered from chlorine poisoning whilst filming a projection for The Pearl Fishers at the ENO.

34. Brother Michael is also a talented singer, recent album is called A La Voix.

35. Alfie and Sarah’s first dance at the their wedding was Led Zeppelin’s Rain Song.

36. First, and so far only,performer, with Renee Fleming to sing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace (at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations).

37. Alfie was first introduced to La Boheme by his brother Michael – thank you Michael!

38. Alfie is great at comedy falls – as witnessed by viewers of Jonathan Ross show in October 2013!

39. Twitter often mentions how much Alfie looks like Declan Donnelly – maybe, but only without his beard – judge for yourself:

dec

40. A photo of Alfie; together with his amazing voice, what other reason to you need to love Alfie Boe? (thanks to Carole Hunt who took this gorgeous photo and generously allowed me to use it on my blog – what a star xx)

alfie-carfest.jpg

 

 

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And the winner is:

Yes, the winner is Bryn Terfel with 35% of the votes!  The vote was very close though, Laura Wright and Barcelona were a close second with 27% and Emilia Mitiku and Dimming of the Day was third with 25%.

Bryn led for most of the way although he was initially lagging behind Laura and Emilia.  I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at the result, as classical won the previous Alfie Boe poll by a country mile.

 

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Bryn Terfel’s duet with Alfie at the South Bank Show Awards in 2011 is the only operatic aria to be nominated for the title of favourite duets with Alfie Boe.  Bringing the house down at the awards themselves, (and rendering Melvyn Bragg almost speechless in the process), the baritone / tenor duet from The Pearl Fishers continues to delight fans from around the world.

I have been aware of and listening to Terfel for almost his entire career; my Dad was a huge opera fan and being Welsh, Bryn was a special favourite.  Over the years, even though I listened to very little opera, I continued to follow Terfel’s career, albeit from a distance.  Terfel rose to prominence by winning the Lieder Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 1989 and began his professional career the following year with Cost Fan Tutte (Guglielmo) with WNO.  Since then, he has performed in all the major opera houses around the world.  His repertoire includes Masetto (Don Giovanni), Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Jokanaan (Salome), Balstrode (Peter Grimes), Falstaff, Don Giovanni, Wotan (Der Ring des Nibelungen), Scarpia (Tosca), Gianni Schicchi and the Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer).    He is due to play Scarpia in the Royal Opera House’s Tosca in June this year.

As well as working in opera, Terfel has been signed to Deutsche Grammophon for almost twenty years, re-signing with them in 2013.  Click here to buy his latest album, Homeward Bound.

Don’t forget to vote in the poll, if you haven’t done so already and then sit back and enjoy Alfie and Bryn:

 

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