It must be fate – I was thinking about a new series of blog posts based on each of Alfie’s albums and decided to start with Love Was A Dream to coincide with Valentine’s Day (such a romantic album!). The fate bit came in when I discovered that this album has just entered the top ten classical album chart – way to go Alfie! It is currently at number 4, ahead of Serenata at 6 and You’ll Never Walk Alone at 7.
In the recent thoughtsofjustafan survey into how fans found Alfie I found that Love Was A Dream was the least owned Alfie album (69% of respondents owned it). I’m not really sure why this is although one reason could be that it was released before Alfie became widely known through Les Mis; additionally, the album was released on an independent label which nearly always makes it harder to achieve mainstream success. Rebecca Newman’s recent classical chart topper, Dare To Dream, was highly unusual in making it to the top of the classical charts without the backing of a major record label.
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:
This is also a fan favourite, making the top ten in last year’s Alfie Boe Best Ever Song poll.
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 his recently released Serenata, which was promoted as his most romantic album yet (of the Decca albums, yes). So, if you’re stuck for a Valentine’s gift, or just want to treat yourself, Love Was A Dream would fit the bill perfectly. To order, click on the album cover:
Alfie’s autiobiography, My Story, is also available:
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album that I play the least
So happy to hear this album being recognised. Maybe people haven’t paid close attention to it in the past because Lehar’s operettas are a bit (dare I say it) old fashioned. It was my least listened to Alfie album until Sally mentioned it as being a great walking companion. I listened to it one day walking the dogs out in the fields and haven’t stopped listening since. (Thanks Sally) And you’re right, Jane. His voice just soars over these melodies. It’s a gem of an album
Love Was a Dream is one of my all time favorites as well, Jane. Thanks for the chart information! Very good to hear others are finding this gem.