Canadian Tenors Fly South to Cerritos for the Holidays
By Glen Creason
The hall was full, the holiday cheer was high and the young and handsome Canadian Tenors strode onto a stage crowded with a full orchestra and more red and green that you would find at any local shopping center (make that centre.) You could hardly ask for more if you are into Christmas and want to hear some of the old classics sung by veteran professionals with big voices. Still, one year I wanted a car and got a lame parka jacket and another time I wanted a violin and got catcher’s equipment. You may have your heart set on one thing and get something altogether different from Santa.
There have been several manifestations of this Yule extravaganza in the past including the impossible to top Three Irish Tenors, the Irish Tenors, the Celtic Tenors, Three Mo’ Tenors and now these young gentlemen from up North. All of the shows had the holiday music in common but varied in voice and repertoire. Let it be said that the likes of Ronan Tynan and Finbar Wright of the Three Irish Tenors don’t come along too often so to compare young singers in their twenties with these heavyweights is not a fair fight. However, the Canadians certainly had a huge following and the reception from the crowd was enthusiastic to say the least.
These Canadian Tenors had polish and charm but are not really all operatic tenors and only half of the group really possessed that bouncing off the back wall of the hall vocal potency. Certainly Remigio Pereira could be Rodolfo in La Boheme and Victor Micallef could handle Verdi without a struggle. Clifton Murray and Fraser Walters are both engaging and very romantic crooners but only baritone-tenors like Michael Buble or Bing Crosby are tenors. While these two young men were charming and elicited sighs from the lady-audience they were not geared for the opera hall. There were some of the old chestnuts done with four-part panache including “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “What Child Is This,” “O Holy Night” and the encore of “Silent Night” that were all sung with passion and reverence. There were impressive operatic readings of “Panis Angelicus” by Pereira
and “the Lord’s Prayer” by Micallef and concert hall send-up of “Forever Young” by Murray
and the lovely “Winter Song” by Walters. Special guests made the season show bright including beautiful Kelly LeVesque for an ensemble joined “the Prayer” and remarkable Justin Hines who sang the moving “Say What You Will.”
While the show had some problems in the first half with uneven sound and a couple of choices that strayed from the holiday theme they pulled the fat out of the fire in the second half with some very fine moments. In particular a soaring “On Earth As It Is In Heaven” from Ennio Morricone’s “the Mission
” and an amazingly fitting “Hallelujah” from Canadian national treasure Leonard Cohen. The following two finishing Christmas evergreens just put a nice sheen on the fine second half and left the big audience heading home hoping those packages from Amazon arrived in time.