Dallas — One thing was clear on Oct. 20 at the Majestic Theatre: The Tenors' devoted audience will abide almost anything to see them.
A couple of unusual things happened. First, and something of which The Tenors were probably unaware, some patrons had purchased tickets reflecting an 8 p.m. start time, only to have received a late-afternoon email that day informing them of a change in start time from 8 to 7:30.
The concert actually started a little after 8, which meant those patrons made the quick travel adjustments unnecessarily. Second, no programs were made available, which might have mattered more to reviewers than to the audience.
Although unamused by these changes, loyal patrons patiently waited for what they trusted would be an evening filled with the familiar sounds and repertoire expected from their beloved quartet. The Tenors did not disappoint.
The program theme of family was developed through banter with the audience in which each song selection was explained. The stage design offered video vignettes, projections behind six floor-to-ceiling vertical panels. These video projections provided not only a scenic backdrop, but also storytelling support through establishing time, place, and mood.
The first vignette, set during the 1940s, showed a young boy trying to find a station on his portable radio. After the boy found a clear channel, the video faded to black as The Tenors entered and moved to their places onstage.
Quartet members are Clifton Murray (from Port McNeil, British Columbia), Fraser Walters (Vancouver), Remigio Pereira (Portuguese-Canadian from Ottawa/Gatineau), and Victor Micallef (Maltese-Canadian from Toronto). If one measures the ensemble on vocal technique, they are a bit of an odd grouping.
In the case of The Three Tenors, (Luciano Pavaratti, Plácido Domingo and José Carreras) all three were operatic singers. The Tenors quartet is a more vocally eclectic and musically diverse group than one might expect. They are formally trained musicians with strong voices, proficiency on a variety of instruments, and skills in composition, scoring and arranging. They have achieved a good blend and appear to have chemistry onstage.
As importantly, these tenors intelligently construct their song sets, enabling them to successfully woo their audience for more than two hours. Patrons were audibly swooned, sighed and randombly sprang to their feet in applause.
Victor and Remigio boast the most operatic sounds, and also the most extensive backgrounds in opera and concert performance. Of the four, Victor has the brightest operatic timbre so it was not surprising that he that took the high lead in "Nessun Dorma," the most well-known aria from Puccini's Turandot. Victor, who is also a pianist, has a degree in vocal performance.
Remigio, actually a tenor-baritone, has a more covered tone and handled the lower harmonic lines. His graduate degree is in classical guitar performance and that prowess was most evident during their rendition of "Who Wants to Live Forever" by Queen.
Fraser, having begun as a boy soprano, has training and performance depth that includes musical theater and a capella ensemble. Stylistically, his voice is the most adaptable and he bridges the timbres of Victor and Clifton. One of the more engaging moments of the evening was “My Father's Son" with Fraser on piano and Clifton on guitar. Video projections of family photos of each man with his father created the perfect scenic frame for this number, evoking one of the strongest audience responses during the evening.
The minute Clifton begins to sing, one knows that gospel music is somewhere in his background. Though he has moved away from gospel, that edge is still there in his voice. With any other grouping this might seem a little strange, but in this mix it adds a brilliance that broadens the group's overall sound.
As with Fraser, Clifton's diverse preparation includes music and theater, but unlike the rest he earned a degree in film, not music. It should also be mentioned that Clifton has moves. Unlike his partners in song, he danced, which greatly pleased the younger members of the audience.
The program was diverse: classical, gospel, rock, even pop by the Beatles. One first-set song, "Angels Falling"—an original composition by The Tenors, was accompanied by sign-language interpretation by Lisa Smith.
They trio closed the show with an assortment of tunes described as an "Elvis/Pavarotti medley," and sang Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" as an encore. The closing visual was a return to the video projection of the little boy waving goodbye as he walked away, smiling and carrying his portable radio.