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Great performances at Tenor Gala but
Last Sunday evening, I was privileged to attend a show entitled The Tenor Gala—Our Nation's Finest In Concert at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando. It was a production of the Eastern Performing Arts Fraternity and featured our own three tenors—Marlon De Bique, Edward Cumberbatch and John Thomas, the Southernaires Choir and Turon Nicholas, among others.
The concert started precisely at 6 pm. It is so rare that any event in our country starts at the advertised time that it always impresses me when one does. For this alone, I would attend their next concert (but see later). Another thing that impresses me is a 15-minute break that lasts 15 minutes. I’ve been to supposedly high-class productions at the exalted NAPA where the 15-minute break has run to half an hour. This one had no break (even better) so the show ended at a very reasonable 7.45 pm on a Sunday.
It was a truly wonderful evening with outstanding performances from everyone. I enjoyed some more than others but there was none I did not like. Among many others, the renditions included La Donna E Mobile, Funiculi, Funiculá, O Sole Mio, Battle Hymn of the Republic (Glory Hallelujah), Music of the Night (Phantom of the Opera), Prisoner’s Chorus from Nabucco, You Raise Me Up, The Prayer and the hair-raising finale by the three tenors, Nessum Dorma.
De Bique, Cumberbatch and Thomas were simply superb. When I closed my eyes and listened, if someone said it was the original Three Tenors (Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras) singing, I would not have doubted him—they were that good. I confirmed this when I went home and listened to the same pieces by the Three Tenors. I could hardly tell the difference.
Also gracing the stage was the venerable pianist Felix “Sugar Fingers” Roach. One of the pieces he played was Somewhere My Love, Lara’s Theme from the movie Dr Zhivago. He mentioned that the original was played on a mandolin. It was the first time I ever heard someone make a piano sound like a mandolin—pure genius.
While they applauded generously, I was a little disappointed that the otherwise classy audience did not see it fit to give Mr Roach a standing ovation (at least I did). The only negatives had nothing to do with the performances. At $150 a ticket (and I would have paid more), at least we should have been given a leaflet with the names of the performers and their pieces. This was compounded by not even mentioning who was performing what, except in a few cases. A simple, “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Marlon De Bique singing...” would have sufficed.
But the biggest incongruity of the night was the smoke machine. I do not know when people will realise that these machines have outlived their novelty value. If it does not enhance your performance, do not use it simply because you have one. Worse, it is unforgivable to use one when it seriously detracts from the performance.
At the Tenor Gala, someone, apparently suffering from smokitis, decided to have one on stage for the entire show, huffing and puffing smoke at the most inopportune times. Smokitis reached ridiculous heights when the machine began to hiss and puff during the poignant opening of You Raise Me Up. It was so awful that the mature, appreciative audience had to snigger in mortification. To their great credit, the performers managed the annoyance quite professionally.
The group announced that they will be having their next show on August 5. I’ll attend provided they give me a leaflet and promise to leave out the smoke.
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