I’ll be honest; I’m no fan of the Three Tenors or the pop-opera genre for that matter. It all smacks of middle-age suburbanites hankering for pleasant and palatable entertainment that’s offensively inoffensive. So the idea of spending an evening trapped in a theatre while being serenading by Ten Tenors didn’t much appeal.
However, the promise of eye candy (the Ten Tenors differ from their tubbier, older brothers in that they’re marketed as being somewhat on the sexy side) and good company saw me making my way to the Nelson Mandela Theatre at the Civic in Joburg. The opening was a semi-star studded affair; we were graced by the like of socialite Edith Venter and pretty boy Idols finalist Jacq (or whichever name he goes by these days).
And so it began. The show is, as expected, a mix of pop songs (think Who Wants to Live Forever) and popular opera numbers (such as Nessun Dorma), with a set of Australian folk songs (Waltzing Matilda anyone?) thrown in for good measure. Yes, the boys, who seem to all be in their early twenties, hail from down under – something they are clearly very proud of.
The Ten Tenors are touring South Africa to promote their new album titled Here’s to the Heroes which features original material by Oscar-winning composer John Barry. And they’ve certainly come a long way from their apparent birthplace in a Brisbane restaurant.
While their official history suggests the opposite, there is a sense of the Ten Tenors being something of a manufactured boy band, craftily constructed to appeal to housewives and gay men. But there’s no denying that the boys all have good voices – ranging from remarkable to more than competent. When all ten sing in unison however, the whole thing sometimes gets a little muddy; lacking crispness and clarity (can too many tenors spoil the broth?).
Vocally, the star of the troupe is undoubtedly (and ironically) the more typically tenor-looking David Kidd, whose soaring voice holds almost every song together. His Freddie Mercury solo during Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is awe-inspiring (goose bump stuff) and drives the rest of the singers to add new zing to this clichÃ©d song choice. Their take on the Bee Gees is quite fun and also a crowd favourite.
The challenge of a show in which there are, in essence, ten stars, all dressed in black (Hugo Boss) suits, is for each of the singers to project some element of individual personality. In this regard, the show succeeds. Most of the ten get a chance to talk to the audience, and throw in a little charm, between numbers and thus develop their own identities on stage.
While hardly mind-blowing, the show is a pleasant night out, which you may want to take your parents to experience. I had a good time, thanks largely to the energetic second half, which makes much more of an impact than the first.
So what about the eye-candy factor, I hear you ask? Are the Ten Tenors also Ten Hunks? Well not quite, although I noted around five rather attractive fellas; all are quite presentable, mind you. (There’s probably at least one Tenor to please everyone.) I had fun first identifying and then tracking my favourites throughout the performance, and there is some definite sex appeal to be found on stage.
True to their boy band sensibility the programme had details on their fan club as well as space for the singers’ autographs. While I’m not sure if this is standard practice, on the opening night we were graced, after the show, with the presence of the boys who chatted and mingled with the remaining audience (yes, mostly middle-age women and gay men).
The night ended in shock however: Upon asking, we were told that apparently only one – yes, only one – of the Tenors is gay (at least openly). Who that might be, I’ll leave up to your imagination.
The Ten Tenors perform at the Civic Theatre in Joburg until 17 June, and then in Cape Town at the Artscape Opera House from Tuesday 19 June until Sunday 24 June.