Tag Archives: D’oyly Carte

Alfie Boe and the D’Oyly Carte

Who can name the song that Alfie Boe sang at his first ever professional audition?  Of course, you all can – Lehar’s You Are My Heart’s Delight for the D’oyly Carte!  The reason I’m asking you this is that I recently had the pleasure of interviewing David Steadman who was the Principal Conductor when Alfie auditioned.  Although David was not present at that first audition, he clearly remembers the director, John Owen Edwards, telling him that he had found “a fantastic tenor from Blackpool”.  Edwards later conducted our current Alfie Boe album of the month, Onward.

As we all know, Alfie was offered a part in the chorus for the tour of HMS Pinafore and as the saying goes, never looked back.  David Steadman remembers him very well from his time conducting that tour, saying that everyone in the company from the other chorus members to the orchestra, loved Alfie.  According to David, Alfie was clearly destined for great things in the music world as he had such a natural voice that came from the heart but also, crucially, he worked hard, always learnt his music and was such a lovely person.  The thing that endeared him most to everyone was that he had no idea how good he was but he took to it like a duck to water, never seeming to struggle with harmonies, always being note perfect.  The effect on the rest of the tenors in the chorus was to galvanize them to come up to the standard that Alfie was setting.  However, Alfie still clearly stood out as evidenced by a conductor from the Birmingham Bach Society who happened to see the show and afterwards mentioned to David that there was an “exceptional tenor in the chorus”.  Alfie later went on to play a leading part in the D’Oyly Carte’s recording of HMS Pinafore.

David went on to describe the effect Alfie’s voice had on a London audience for the first time; singing two or three arias at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, Alfie absolutely brought the house down.  A similar experience was had at a New Year’s Eve concert in Blackpool where David conducted the National Concert Orchestra.  Alongside a couple of D’Oyly Carte soloists, Alfie also performed with his brother Michael, in front of what seemed to David like the whole Boe family in the front stalls!

Alfie himself is very thankful to the D’Oyly Carte for giving him his first chance in the music world, as seen in this quote from his autobiography, My Story:

…If you had the ability to sing, the D’Oyly Carte gave you the opportunity regardless, and that’s priceless.  They did a lot for me.

In recent years, the company has been dormant with no productions between 2003 and 2013 but there is shortly to be a forthcoming production, in collaboration with Scottish Opera, of the Mikado.  This was preceded by a successful joint production of the Pirates of Penzance in 2013.  David himself is Music Director of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Trust and is currently conducting the UK touring production of the Sound of Music, having previously worked for several years with the Really Useful Group and Bill Kenwright.

All this may sound enough to be getting on with but David is also presently engaged in writing and organising a D’Oyly Carte recipe book!  Featuring handwritten contributions from company members going right back to the 1920’s, the book was passed to David a few years ago and that was that until he had the idea of publishing a recipe book to raise money for CLIC Sargent, a leading charity for children with cancer.  Sir Malcolm Sargent was at one time, Principal Conductor with the D’Oyly Carte.

David is clearly very proud of Alfie’s achievements in his career so far and says he was saddened to read Alfie’s book and learn of his subsequent struggles within the wider opera world as he and everyone else at the D’Oyly Carte are so proud of his career.  When they last spoke, Alfie was still the same down to earth man he was when he first met him, confessing to feeling “amazed” at how things have gone for him.  For his part, David says that it was “entirely the good fortune of the D’Oyly Carte” to have had Alfie in the company.

Alfie’s album Onward and the recording of HMS Pinafore are available now:

Alfie onward

HMS Pinafore

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Alfie Boe’s Best Ever Song: No 10

The nominations have been sent in, the votes have been cast and now the countdown begins!

The song at number 10 in the Top Ten countdown is You Are My Heart’s Delight, from the Lehar album, Love Was A Dream.  This song is my personal favourite so I was thrilled to see it in the Top Ten although it would have been great to see it receive a few more votes.  Let’s take a look at Alfie singing it in the original German, Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz, at Proms in the Park, September 2012 (thanks to Linda Wellington for sharing):

This was my first Alfie concert and I can still remember the goosebumps!

Anyone familiar with Alfie Boe’s story knows that You Are My Heart’s Delight is a personal favourite for him and his father, Alfred.  As well as singing it 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 Franz Lehar.  The video below showcases an audio version by Tauber:

One of the reasons I love this song so much is knowing that it has a personal connection for Alfie; however, I loved it before I read the book and the reason is that the music suits his voice so well.  I’m not the only one who feels that way, as a glance at the Top Ten will tell you but Cathy Haley sums it up thus:

You are my heart’s delight. I love his performance of this song at the BBC Proms. Of course, everyone knows it was one of his father’s favourites and I’m sure the song is very sentimental for Alfie. I believe that there is a part someday in play or movie for Alfie playing Richard Tauber ( although he looks nothing like him) because his voice is so suited to the operettas from that time period and to similar songs.

If you don’t yet have Love Was A Dream, click on the image below to order:

love was a dream

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40 facts About Alfie Boe!

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:


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)




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