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The Ten Tenors
Here's To The Heroes 

Review By A. Colin Flood

  You've heard of the Three Tenors, right? Those three guys in tuxedoes with deep voices who sing classical opera? The famous trio of Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti hold the Guinness World Record for the best selling classical album of all time, Three Tenors in Concert (1990). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and nothing inspires imitation like success. The chart-topping success of the Three Tenors' series of concerts and albums spawned Irish, Canadian, Soprano, Chinese and Yiddish copycats (the Three Cantors). So now there is the Australian version; except everything is bigger down under. Make it ten young men with incredible voices, studying opera in college, and let them sing something we've heard of in English.

The Ten Tenors are an Australian musical ensemble touring Europe, Canada and the United States since 1995. Over 77 million people on five continents enjoyed their performances. The group performs a strange repertoire in concert and on their albums. They switch gears mid-set between classic Italian opera tunes, such as "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot and the Italian ballad standard "O Sole Mio," and native Australian tunes (including Men at Work), pop rock songs and smaltzy show tunes.

The Ten Tenors perform Queen pop rock standards, including inspiring performances of "Bicycle Race, Bohemian Rhapsody," and "Who Wants to Live Forever" and ABBA's "Dancing Queen." They deliver a mix of high-tone opera, jazz, modern and classic pop – with stylized Los Vegas flair that charms the millions. In the holiday spirit, I recently saw the ten men, in a solitary line and dressed like The Men in Black, in an excellent forum. The Mahaffey Theater is a square modern building, wrapped with a round three-story glass lobby facing the shimmering blue-green waters of Tampa Bay. On any given sun-spanked day, white boats float casually by.

Picture a classic European jewel-box of a theater. Tiers of red seats and white boxes circle a wide stage with a tall red curtain in a swollen D-shape. The theater is traditional in style, except without the heavy gold gilt of Rococo embellishments. And there you have the essence of the Mahaffey Theater; old world elegance in modern dress with amazing acoustics. If they choose, singers can let their voices soar through the entire theater without amplification.

There is nothing like a live performance for music or audio lovers. Jewel box theaters like the Mahaffey are designed for live, un-amplified acoustic performances. If you are a tweaking audiophile and you have not heard music in the raw lately – you really must get out, enjoy the New Year and hear some.

I recently saw a theatrical production of Charlotte Bronte's classic romantic novel, Jane Eyre, performed live. The play was enhanced by a blonde female cellist and a wild dancer, with long dark hair and skin-tight white pajamas. The combination of a beautiful professional cellist, dancer and lead actress lifted the black box performance from mere stage play to a multi-media performance that excited the senses. With their unusual blend of Italian arias and Christmas classics, John Barry, Queen, Abba songs, musicianship and comedy, the Ten Tenors accomplished the same. They transcended a mere choral show.

On-stage, the ten men in black were accompanied by a black grand piano, a drum kit and bassist on both string and electric bass. Unfortunately, they surrounded the drum kit in a wall of clear Lexan®, muting its sizzle, snap and dynamic impact of the kick drum. Then they used a PA system to amplify the instruments and their voices. The system added a harsh edge to the crescendos. Am I being too critical, or am I performing the essential function of an audio critic?

The Ten Tenors' eighth and latest album, Here's to the Heroes, is an unabashedly sentimental display of show tunes by John Barry. He is a renowned Golden Globe and five-time Academy Award-winning English film score composer. After the success of his score for the James Bond movie, Dr. No, Barry scored eleven of the next 14 Bond films! He also wrote memorable scores for The Lion in Winter, Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa, and Dances with Wolves.

1.Just To See Each Other Again
2. Here's To The Heroes
3. Buongiorno Principessa
4. There'll Come A Day
5. We Have All The Time In The World
6. Places
7. Les Choristes
8. You Only Live Twice
9. Tick All The Days Off One By One
10. Somewhere In Time
11. Who Wants To Live Forever?
12. Gladiatore Suite: Now We Are Free/Il Gladiatore

 

On the album, the 85-piece London Symphony Orchestra musters gusto and glitz. The album has tremendously rich vocals and instrumentals. Though it has a sappy, sweet sentimentality to its sound, it is engaging nonetheless. The smooth, easy-listening Heroes is as insipid as Barry Manilow, but it is not without its gentle charms. This is not an album for symphony lovers, as the orchestra is simply gorgeous back-drop to the Ten Tenors vocals. Nor does Heroes capture the magnetism of their on-stage presence, the powerful solos and their camp humor. In "Who Wants To Live Forever," they sing "This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us." The Ten Tenors provide many sweet moments on the album. It is an album for tenor lovers.

Like their live performances though, Heroes is an eclectic mix of classic, pop and Vegas showbiz styles. It made me want to pop in the colorful and quirky Moulin Rouge movie, with Nicole Kidman, and hear Ewan McGregor sing again. (Wise cracking on stage, the Ten Tenors said you can always tell the hero in an Italian opera, the tenor always gets the girl!)  If you love show tunes, are a John Barry fan or love tenors, you will enjoy the music.

Here's to the Heroes released in 2006. Executive Producers are John Barry himself, Matthew Hickey, and Ric Salmon. The album was produced by Grammy Award winner Simon Franglen (Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On", Madonna, Toni Braxton, Quincy Jones) at Air Studios and Abbey Road Studios, London. While they do have A Not So Silent Night and Tenology Christmas CDs, they do not have a movie DVD.

 

 

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