Tag Archives: Opera

Alfie Boe on Enrico Caruso

Bereft.  That’s the word I’m using to explain how I feel today when I realise that there are no more Alfie Boe’s Opera Heroes to look forward to on Monday evenings.  Last night saw the final episode, and featured, to my mind, the best voice of the three, Enrico Caruso.  The programme on Maria Callas moved me more but that was due in part to the emotional connection with my father, rather than the voice itself.

Of the three singers, Caruso’s was the story I was least familiar with and Alfie fans may well have felt that there are some easy comparisons between the two singers’ early lives.  Caruso seems to have had more difficulties with women than Alfie though!

I feel that the arias chosen really complimented both his career and voice.  In many cases, they were very familiar from listening to Alfie’s own recordings. For me personally, it was a treat to hear so much about the productions Caruso appeared in, rather than focusing just on the recordings, magnificent though they are.  Hearing Puccini’s reaction to Caruso singing Che Gelida Manina was a little gem although that moment was nothing compared to the even better gem about Nellie Melba’s hot sausage in La Boheme!  Like Alfie, I so hope that was a true story (thanks to Annie for sharing the video):

I found Alfie’s comment on Caruso’s recording of Over There interesting as well although I’m afraid all I could hear over the tune was Alfie’s fellow tenor Wynne Evans and Go Compare.  Sorry!  My favourite track from the programme was Recondita Armonia:

Overall, Alfie on opera has been great and I’m sure that he has many more favourites than the three featured; he always seems to choose a different favourite when asked in interviews.  Let’s hope that another series might be on the cards at a later date.  It has also been refreshing to hear operatic arias on Radio 2 rather than their usual home of Radio 3, which tends to come across as rather elitist and snobbish about opera.  A channel for the opera purists is how I think of it and of course that is what it is and should be as there are precious few radio channels available that air operas in full.  If full operas are not your cup of tea but you do like tenors and sopranos singing certain arias, having them presented knowledgeably and enthusiastically on Radio 2 by a tenor who ‘sings a bit’ is a great introduction and will hopefully mean a few more people enjoying this wonderful music.

If you have enjoyed listening to Alfie’s opera heroes and want to explore Alfie’s own classical recordings in more depth, click here to find Alfie’s full discography.  In the meantime, here is Alfie’s version of A Vucchella which beats Caruso hands down (and I know I’m not the only one to think this way):

Alfie Boe’s Opera Heroes are still available (worldwide) on BBC iPlayer – click here.

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Alfie Boe on Maria Callas

Maria Callas was one of the first musical voices I remember hearing on record when I was growing up – my Dad was a huge fan and was lucky enough to see her perform at Covent Garden.  I can still see the look on his face when he reminisced about these performances and if I had to describe that look I’d probably say it was akin to the look on the faces of Alfie fans when they first hear him sing live.  When you’re struck by a voice, it really hits you.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, of course, last night saw the first episode of Alfie Boe’s Opera Heroes in which the first hero was Maria Callas, the most famous soprano of the twentieth century.  Guiding us through Callas’ life and career, the emphasis of the programme was on the sublime voice, with a large portion of the programme given over to Callas’ recordings.

Alfie fans will know that he was introduced to opera by his elder brother Michael (thanks Michael!) and we again heard of the importance of music to the Boe family home, with Callas being the favourite voice of Michael.  Apparently, Michael still owns every Callas recording on vinyl and CD.  In my first ever interview for thoughtsofjustafan, Michael’s reply to the question ‘Which person, alive or dead, would you most like to sing with’ met with the response that “I’m a HUGE Callas fan and would have loved to have sung with her”.  Click here to see who else Michael said he loved singing with.  Alfie told us that the Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana was Michael’s favourite Callas recording – is it still the same, Michael?

Even though the voice of Callas was showcased, no programme about her could ever be complete without mention of Aristotle Onassis.  In some respects, their relationship has overshadowed her career but in others, the story of their relationship is perfectly suited to the image of her as  the ultimate tragic diva.  It would have been interesting to have followed this idea further to see how much our idea of Callas the singer is influenced by her private life.  Having said that, Alfie touched on this idea when he said that the story of Callas and Onassis is so well known and perfectly suited to to opera that it’s surprising no one has written it yet.  If we can have operas about Anna Nicole Smith and Jerry Springer, why not Callas and Onassis?

As a presenter, Alfie’s natural passion and enthusiasm shone through; if we can’t hear Alfie singing opera, the next best thing is to hear him talk about it with such enthusiasm and passion.  In a fitting end to the programme, Alfie spoke with absolute conviction that Callas knew her art and her audience inside out, left us with a quote from Callas herself:

I give a little happiness.  Music has enriched my life and hopefully, through me, a little of the public’s life too.  If anyone left an opera house feeling more happy and at peace, I have achieve my purpose.

It seems to me that this quote could be used to sum up Alfie’s attitude to music and his audience too.  I’ll leave you with Callas and Giuseppe di Stefano (another operatic superstar I’ve heard Alfie enthuse about) singing an aria from La Boheme that all self respecting Alfie fans should recognise:

Alfie Boe on Maria Callas is available on BBC Radio iPlayer (click here) and the next two episodes will feature Mario Lanza and Enrico Caruso.

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So You Think You Know Alfie Boe?

If you’re reading this then you must be a fan of Alfie Boe, right?  But how well do you know the man himself?  Could he be your specialist subject on Mastermind?  If you’ve been left shouting ‘Alfie Boe’ at the TV during Pointless when the contestants didn’t have a clue, perhaps this is the quiz for you.

There’s not a prize though, just the satisfaction of scoring ten out of ten.  Good luck – answers next week.

  1. Which role will Alfie shortly take over on Broadway?
  2. Who did Alfie pick as his favourite Javert in an interview with thoughtsofjustafan last year?
  3. How many brothers and sisters does Alfie have and what are their names?
  4. What are the names of the two alternate Rodolfo’s in Baz Luhrman’s La Boheme?
  5. What is the name of Alfie’s management company?
  6. Name the support acts for Alfie’s three headline tours (Bring Him Home, Storyteller and Serenata).
  7. Alfie won Glyndebourne’s Christie prize – what was the role?
  8. In which opera house was Alfie’s last operatic role?
  9. And which opera was he performing in?
  10. What was the name of the new song that Alfie revealed at Leeds in 2015?

Answers revealed next week!  In the meantime, don’t forget to tun into BBC Radio 2 on Monday 14 March at 10pm for Alfie’s Opera Heroes!

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How Alfie Boe is Changing Our Musical Tastes

Just over a week ago I posted about the music that Alfie Boe has introduced me to and how my musical tastes have changed.  I then asked you to tell me how Alfie has educated you musically and you have responded enthusiastically!  A wide range of musical tastes and choices were talked about and interestingly, it’s not just new music that we are spending our money on.  Alfie has changed our musical horizons so much that we are as likely to go to a concert by a new artist or a theatrical production as we are to buy a new album which costs a fraction of the price.  Most of us are also just as likely to go alone to these concerts and shows, having never thought of doing so before.

As we already know, most fans first came to be an Alfie fan through Les Mis and were already listening to music from musicals; some were even lucky enough to be at the O2 in 2010! Some however, were not into musicals at all and have since become immersed in that world as a result.  Alfie’s first two Decca albums in particular are rich with musical numbers and seem to have inspired a lot of fans to revisit those tunes and shows.  Blues and swing, following Alfie’s most recent albums, have also been re-introduced to many of your music collections.

Again, most fans had some affinity with light classical music before Alfie but have become much keener once they discovered Alfie’s rich back catalogue of classical music and opera.  I think that most of us can say that we know a whole lot more about opera than we did before we heard Alfie, whether that means re-learning what we once knew or coming to it from a blank canvas.  La Boheme was mentioned several times as a favourite opera, probably because Alfie has played Rodolfo a few times and we can watch him on DVD whenever we want – that also means that we know the words when we go to see that same production at the Coliseum with ENO!

In my original post, I mentioned the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Clint Boon Experience as artists who I had come to listen to through Alfie and who I would never have listened to before.  I think I can safely say that having looked at all your responses, I am not alone in that view – Led Zeppelin and The Who were the top two artists that are being discovered or revisited.  I’m sure that we’ll all be Who / Quadrophenia experts by the time 5th July has come around.

Lastly, Laura Wright, John Owen-Jones and Michael Boe were the top three new artists that you told me about; singers who it is unlikely that you would have heard about and become fans of, without Alfie.  Emilia Mitiku and Warren Zevon were other names mentioned – Alfie recorded Zevon’s Keep Me In Your Heart on Trust (it’s the one with the buttons on your blouse, so careful now!):

The comment that came over most often, however, was how much you are all enjoying Alfie’s musical journey – one reason being that we have no idea which way he’ll go next!  One thing’s for sure – it won’t be what we expect!

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Alfie Boe: What Turns Him On

Have I got your attention yet? I thought of a lot of headlines based on today’s Mail on Sunday interview but in the end went for the safe option!!!  Alfie is described as an opera star in the interview about his cultural highlights but at least we’re spared the TVR story!  Click here to read about his first experiences of opera as part of the audience.

The post Christmas weekend has been a good one for Alfie Boe fans – last night saw the showing of Bruce’s Hall of Fame, a one off TV special recorded back in November.  Artists such as Alfie, Jason Manford, Ben Miller, Jon Culshaw, Jamie Cullum and Jessie Wallace performed songs and sketches in tribute to an artist that inspired them in their career; Alfie sang Volare in tribute to Dean Martin and had a chat with Sir Bruce Forsyth (thanks Marcia for sharing):

The song was wonderful (would you expect anything else?) and the chat was as you would also expect!  Would have been nice to get another song from Alfie but it was still fabulous to see him on prime time TV showcasing his latest album – everyone’s a winner!  Just to make us all that bit happier he did tweet after the show too!

Alfie Boe’s Serenata is available now:


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Alfie Boe Kick Starts UK Tour in Newcastle

It was with an intense feeling of anticipation that I embarked on the journey to Newcastle to see the first show of Alfie Boe’s UK Tour…and it’s safe to say that I was not disappointed!  Straight off, I’m going to say that although Sol3 Mio were great, I’m not going to mention them any further here – look out for further blogs.

Alfie, together with his band, started out with stripped down songs from Serenata – the way that Alfie has always wanted to play them.  Serenata Celeste was majestic and My Heart is Yours felt hugely emotional for both audience and Alfie.  Seamlessly moving into songs from La Passione (Parlami D’Amore Mariu), there was an audible sigh of anticipation from the audience when Alfie announced Caruso.  This turned out to be a humdinger of a number, especially when Alfie’s voice rose to a crescendo and the backdrop curtain fell to reveal the orchestra.  Very effective.

Musical theatre featured heavily on Alfie’s first two Decca albums and he returned to this repertoire last night.  Come What May, Wheels of a Dream and Being Alive were powerhouse performances and made an excellent intro to the Les Mis section and an outstanding rendition of Bring Him Home.  A standing ovation duly followed.  Leading into this, Richard Causon played a very effective Do You Hear the People Sing on accordion and got a fair portion of the audience singing along; this could have been encouraged more and perhaps will be in a bigger audience.

One of the most talked about parts of this tour was whether or not Alfie would sing any operatic arias – if you are a fan of his early albums you will be thrilled to find out that accompanied just by Richard Causon on piano, Alfie sang a medley of Recondita Armonia and Nessun Dorma which was simply outstanding.  Goosebumps time.  However, as wonderful as the sound was, the applause was slightly more muted than perhaps could have been expected due to the fact that we weren’t actually sure when Alfie had finished singing!  Recondita Armonia went straight into Nessun Dorma and so were half expecting that a third aria would follow.  A few of us were on the verge of standing up to applaud but weren’t sure and then of course the moment had gone.  Thanks Linda for sharing this:

At this point, I should probably mention that although Alfie’s stage patter was still there, there was much less talk as there was a whole lot of singing!

After a short break (at this point, it was most noticeable that it was the first show as there were a couple of lengthy pauses for set movements) Alfie and the band returned to the stage for Trust and Storyteller songs.  Bridge Over Troubled Water gave way to Trust and Keep Me in Your Heart...I confess to being a little hot and bothered over the “buttons on your blouse” moment… We then returned to where we started with more Serenata.  Chitarra Romana started us off and we then enjoyed Luna Malinconia, Mamma, Volare, Mambo Italiano and Buona Sera where the main performance ended.  We were encouraged to dance during this last part (only where our seats were) and Alfie had us all blowing kisses to him during Buona Sera, and yes, he did reciprocate.

The encore brought an acapella version of Danny Boy which showcased Alfie’s superb vocal abilities (and I don’t normally like this song) but I loved it last night.  The final song of the night was a fabulous Glory Glory Hallelujah from Trust – and Alfie sent us off in style.

Overall, all the fans I spoke to thought the show was absolutely amazing, Alfie at his best, something for everyone and quite possibly his best ever concert.  Writing this now, I am reliving it all over again and I definitely agree – Alfie was simply out of this world.  Having said that, it will be interesting to see how the show goes in Leeds on Friday when the teething difficulties with the staging etc. have been ironed out.

If you don’t have tickets, go and get them now – you won’t be disappointed!

I can’t believe you don’t have Serenata yet but if not, click on the image to order:



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The Fans Choice of Operatic Role for Alfie Boe is…

Mario Caravadossi from Tosca!

There were nine roles mentioned in all but by far the most nominations were for Tosca.  We are incredibly lucky in that there are a few videos of Alfie singing E Lucevan Le Stelle available and I chose The Music of Morse, mainly because it has the added bonus of Alfie singing with Lesley Garrett as well!

The other operas were:

  • Lensky – Eugene Onegin
  • Nemorino – L’Elisr D’amore
  • Alfredo – La Traviata
  • The Duke – Rigoletto
  • Don Jose – Carmen
  • Don Ottavio – Don Giovanni
  • Ferrando – Cosi Fan Tutte
  • Rodolfo – La Boheme – of course!

Although Alfie Boe’s operatic career has played many of these roles, most famously, Rodolfo, these performances are not recorded for posterity (or at least not available in the public domain) with the exception of ENO’s La Boheme at The Coliseum.  However, he has recorded several of the arias in these operas; click here for the Alfie Boe Opera playlist on Spotify.

Many of Alfie’s fans wish he would return to the operatic stage although whether or not he would be entirely welcome in that world these days remains to be seen (interesting either way).  Whenever the subject crops up in discussion, fans would most like to hear how his voice has matured and grown since he was an opera singer.  The release of Alfie’s new album, Serenata leads us back towards a more classical vein which has tantalised the opera lovers among us – will he sing more operatic arias and what will it sound like?  Thankfully we live in an age of technology and we can hear Alfie singing La Donna E Mobile, from Rigoletto, just a few weeks ago at the BBC Belfast Proms in the Park (another added bonus, we get the whole repertoire too!):  La Donna E Mobile starts at 5.40 mins.

Alfie’s new album, Serenata can be pre-ordered below:




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What if Alfie Boe returned to Opera?

As David Miller of Il Divo is set to star in Faust at the Detroit Opera House, I thought it would be a good time to ask the big “what if” question:

What if Alfie Boe were to return to opera?

Miller is scheduled to perform only once in Detroit next May, alongside his wife, Sarah Joy Miller but this is not the first time he has taken an operatic role since becoming part of Il Divo.  Back in 2011, he appeared in The Magic Flute, again in Detroit:

Subsequently, Miller took the role of Alfredo in Palm Beach Opera’s 2013 production of La Traviata.  Here, Miller played opposite Sarah’s Violetta.  At the time, Sarah said that “the pros outweighed the cons as she’d rather be kissing her husband on stage than some singer she’d just met”.

So, this role made me think – wouldn’t it be great if Alfie returned to opera? I hasten to add that plenty of fans have no desire at all to see Alfie on the opera stage, but keep with me! After all, Alfie and David Miller both starred in the famed Baz Luhrmann Broadway production of La Boheme.  Besides, even if Alfie did want to return to the opera world, there are no guarantees that the doors would be wide open for him.  In a recent interview with Liz Jones of the Daily Mail, Alfie said that:

‘I’m not sure, I really don’t know what they think of me, I’ve not been in that circle or spoken to anyone in that world recently.’

Having said that, if Alfie did take an ooperatic role, which role would you like to see him in?  Let me know via the form below:

In the meantime, to oil your wheels, let’s see Alfie in La Boheme with Melody Miller:

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Alfie Boe’s Proms in the Park

Alfie Boe’s recent BBC Radio Ulster interview  was a gem!  The presenter started by playing Alfie’s version of Pure Imagination and then delighted Alfie by telling him Liverpool won 3-0 against Tottenham!  Then it was straight into the usual tour and album promo and great news, Serenata will feature at the Belfast Proms. And apparently, the ice bucket challenge was “cold” – yeah, we got that Alfie!

Classical fans will be thrilled to know that Alfie will also be singing “La Donna e Mobile” in Belfast! Wow, can’t wait to hear that.

Ahead of his appearance at Belfast Proms in the Park, it seems a good time to look back at Alfie’s previous Proms appearances. Indeed, Last Night of the Proms around the UK has been one of Alfie’s most regular gigs over the last few years; 13 September marks his fourth appearance in a row.

Last year, 2013, saw Alfie sing songs mainly taken from his Trust album, whilst in 2012, he performed some more traditional songs, including Chitarra Romana and You Are My Hearts Delight as well as Bring Him Home.   The year before saw an appearance in Dundee where the highlight was Recondita Armonia.

However, those are not Alfie’s only Proms appearances – he has been to Northern Ireland before (Carrickfergus in 2007) and Swansea in 2008, back in the days when he was still performing in opera.  Here he is with Rebecca Evans at Swansea, singing Brindisi from La Traviata:

Alfie’s new album, Serenata is released on 20 November  – just click on the image below


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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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