US audiences warm to tenors.
The Ten Tenors
When: 7:30 p.m. March 8
Where: The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester
How much: $39 to $69. (877) 571-7469; www.thehanovertheatre.org
It was summer Down Under when the Australian vocal singing group The Ten Tenors started its current extensive North American tour in Oklahoma late January.
The group then made its way through the frigid Midwest. Worcester does not promise to be spring-like when The Ten Tenors come to The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts for a performance at 7:30 p.m. March 8.
"We've experienced some cold,'' said tenor Ben Clark amiably. On the other hand, "We love America.'' Furthermore, Clark said he's looking forward to coming to New England because he's "a big Red Sox fan.''
How can you not like these guys? Or should that be blokes? They've been described as "The Vocal Wonders from Down Under.'' Michael Manikus, a long-time member of The Ten Tenors, has said, "So many people, particularly men, turn up to a show, having been dragged by their wives, arms folded, thinking they're going to watch us croon to the ladies and serve up yet another watery classical-crossover show. Not too far into the show they realize we are a group of down-to-earth Aussie blokes that have power and guts in our performance and they leave not only pleasantly surprised, but fans themselves.''
Clark was a fan himself before he became a member of The Ten Tenors in 2008. "I'm so happy to be part of it,'' he said during a recent telephone interview while on the road. He had first auditioned in 2007, but found himself "on the sidelines for 18 months,'' as the group was off on one of its tours. He had to audition again in 2008. "To audition was a big thing. It absolutely changed my life,'' Clark said of being chosen.
The Ten Tenors date back to the mid-1990s. Of course, we've had The Three Tenors and The Irish Tenors over the years. You get the general drift. "I think the name 'Ten Tenors' has a ring to it. I think that was why the name was chosen,'' Clark said.
The group was originally 10 university friends who banded together while students at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. Word of mouth (10 mouths, in this case) began to spread, and there was a TV triumph in Germany. In 1999, The Ten Tenors released the album "Tenorissimo!'' consisting of a mix of classical ("O Sole Mio'') and popular ("Danny Boy'') favorites, which established the group's general crossover ... tenor. The Ten Tenors have accumulated four gold CDs and two platinum CDs, two gold DVDs and one platinum gold DVD, and sold more than 3.5 million concert tickets. The Ten Tenors average up to 250 shows per year across seven continents.
The 2014 North American tour is titled "Broadway's Greatest Hits,'' and is the first time The Ten Tenors has devoted an entire show to American musical classics, Clark said. The song list includes selections from "The Wizard of Oz,'' "Oklahoma!,'' "Les Miserables,'' "Miss Saigon'' and "Jersey Boys.'' The tour ends in May.
On the whole, The Ten Tenors is generally a group for young men because of all the traveling. The average age of the members is 26. The Ten Tenors describe themselves as "constantly evolving.''
"We're all professional musicians,'' Clark said. "Rehearsals are pretty intense, but the style is pretty consistent.''
Ten blokes together on the road all the time could also be a cause of potential friction, but Clark said there's harmony off stage as well as on. "We do get along. The things we go through, it's very galvanizing for relationships. It's kind of like a family. There are times you're gonna get under each other's skin. The Australian way for dealing with arguments is to get it over with. We're all Australian young men traveling the world. What's the point (of arguing)? We're living the dream.''
Clark is originally from Melbourne, Victoria, and graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts. He's sung in varied genres of music including opera, contemporary, musical theatre and cabaret.
In 2011, he took what would be an 18-month "break'' from The Ten Tenors and performed with Australian Opera (Oz Opera) in the role of Tamino in "The Magic Flute.'' 2011 was also the year Clark got married. In June 2012, he had success writing a song dedicated to Australia's unbeaten racehorse Black Caviar, who went to England and had a sensational victory at Royal Ascot.
But by October 2012, Clark was back in the saddle with The Ten Tenors.
Asked what his wife thought about that, Clark replied, "That's a good question. She would much rather I'd be home. But she's supporting me fully.'' Clark added, in a bloke-to-bloke sort of way, "Sometimes it takes a bunch of flowers and jewelry.'' And perhaps a plane ticket. His wife will be coming out Stateside to see him in April.
In August (winter in Australia), Clark will be 30. There have been thoughts of having a family, and "family and touring don't go hand in hand,'' he said.
But for the time being he plans to remain one in 10.
"I'll be continuing,'' Clark said. "I'm just enjoying the ride at the moment.''
Contact Richard Duckett at Richard.Duckett@telegram.com