30 October 2007 (released)
02 November 2007
'La Passione, the Passion: These Italian folk songs have always been so close to my heart because of the passion they naturally express. Most of these songs were written in remembrance of their homeland. Many Italians emigrated west, in search of success and a new way of life. These songs were sung to evoke the life and land, they left behind. They talk of the towns, the mountains, the seas, the loves they lost and the loves they still hold in their hearts. Whether the song is from the North, South, East or West of Italy, there is thing that connects them all . . . The Passion. Enjoy.'
So says Alfie Boe's official website, Music News caught up with him to find out the truth.
Music News: The album is made up of mostly Italian folk songs - have you been to Italy and what is your favourite place?
Alfie Boe: Never, and I don't know what it's like! Only kidding! I've been to Italy many times and my favourite place? It's a difficult one; Italy is so beautiful as a whole. I love Venice, Rome, and the little islands off the Amalfi Coast. Italy's gorgeous, just beautiful. I'd love to live there at some point, maybe have a holiday home there.
MN: And where's your favourite place worldwide, if you could pick one place?
Alfie Boe: Well if I didn't say Fleetwood in Lancashire, I don't think I would ever be let back into my hometown! I think you always have your heart in the home where you were born.
But I do love America as I have spent a lot of time over there working on 'La Bohème’ and things and there are great mountain ranges which I love for hiking. I'm a big hiker and trekker and it's great over there, I love all that.
MN: Many of the songs on the album are about love and romance. What's the most romantic thing you have ever done? And you can't include any occasions involving singing!
Alfie Boe: Whilst my wife was away recently I just sat in my pyjamas for days and let the dishes pile up in the sink. We'd just moved into a new house and we hardly had anything sorted. But then one day I did all the dishes and then decided to redecorate the whole house. I got pictures up, had photos framed, bought lots of furniture and nice lamps. I even got my mum to sew cushions! So that she wouldn't come home to an empty shell of a house.
MN: And what was her reaction?
Alfie Boe: She cried! She walked through the door and said 'It's disgusting! What have you done?' No she loved it really! I cooked her a nice meal that night too.
MN: What is your favourite song or piece of music?
Alfie Boe: My favourite piece of classical music has to be the entire performance of 'La Bohème’. One, because it's great music and two, because it's very close to my heart. My favourite song? Well I'm a huge Pink Floyd fan and it's fair to say I love 'Wish You Were Here’ and 'Comfortably Numb’. They are my favourite songs as far as popular songs go. In terms of classical songs, the entire repertoire on my new album! It's got to be really!
MN: What music do you listen to in different situations? When you are relaxing/driving/working out? Do you work out?
Alfie Boe: Yes I do work out! Have you not seen any photos! I used to listen to lots of upbeat, up-tempo stuff in the gym. Lots of rock music; Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, all that sort of stuff. But recently I have been listening to lots of movie theme soundtracks like Pirates of the Caribbean; I love the new arrangements and theme tunes, and The Magnificent Seven. I also listen to the theme from Superman as when I'm lifting that extra little rep I need it! And then I rip my shirt off and I have a big 'S'! Or a big 'A'!
MN: Your first break came with Baz Luhrmann and 'La Bohème'. Are you still in contact with him and would you be keen to work with him in the future?
Alfie Boe: Yes, I do keep in touch, I drop him a line every now and then and let him know how things are going and he always checks up on what's happening. It's really sweet and I would absolutely jump at the chance to work with him again. I think he's an incredible director and a fantastic artist with a great vision for portraying a story and putting across a message. I learnt so much from the guy about being an actor and being truthful and real in a performance. He's great! I loved working with him and would love to work with him again. So if he's online reading this... pick up the phone!
MN: If you could choose anyone in the industry to work with who would it be and why?
Alfie Boe: There are lots of people I'd love to work with. Because I'm a bit of a rock fan I'd love to work with people like David Bowie. David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, I'd love to work with him! Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin! But I think classically there are a lot of people around I'd like to work with; Anna Netrebko is an incredible soprano, she's amazing, I'd love to do something with her, maybe a duet. Bryn Terfel of course, I'd love to do work with him, that would be a dream come true. But there are a lot of other tenors I would love to have the opportunity of working with even though it's not really feasible at times, it would be great to do something; share a stage in some way.
MN: Do you have any heroes who have really inspired you in your career and influenced the path you have taken?
Alfie Boe: Yes, Pavarotti was always a huge influence on my musical career; whenever I listened to him he made me want to sing. I always wanted to open my voice and just belt a song out so when someone has the ability to do that to you I think it's a really magical experience. So musically, Pavarotti. And closer to home, my father was a huge influence on me when it came to classical music because he was always playing records around the house when I was growing up and he had a good voice too. He was a good singer! It was good training at home listening to his records but I thought he was crazy at the time listening to that stuff when I was a little kid and just wanted to go out and play in the garden!
MN: If you were able to host a dinner party inviting anyone from the past or present, who would be top of your list?
Alfie Boe: Obviously the Queen! I'd have to cover all bases so as not to offend anyone! The Rolling Stones would be pretty good for background music! For a dinner party that would go with a swing I would invite Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Eric Morecambe, Ernie Wise, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. It would be a pretty good laugh wouldn't it? Very entertaining! I love my comedy but I'm not very funny myself!
MN: Is there anything in your career which you wish, in hindsight, you had done differently?
Alfie Boe: There was a photo shoot when I really wish I hadn't worn this shirt.... No really, to be honest looking back everything has happened for a reason, whether good or bad. Something always comes out of a project so I don't really think I would have changed anything because you learn from your mistakes and if you didn't make mistakes then you wouldn't learn! So it's important to go through bad times as well as good.
MN: You are performing at the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 3rd November and have other imminent performances, which is your most memorable performance and why?
Alfie Boe: Recently I was asked to go to Clarence house and perform for Prince Charles for a private dinner party and I didn't know how much comedy I could get away with. I like to break down the performance by speaking between the songs to make it less formal and make people relax. I introduced the guys accompanying me and the violinist was called Charlie so I said that I had been really excited when I was told prior to the performance that Charlie was accompanying me on the violin because I thought it was going to be Prince Charles himself! That was one of the jokes I came out with and he found it funny. He's a really nice fellow, a really sweet guy and works very hard for charity. There are so many other concerts that have great memories for other reasons but that’s a recent one that comes to mind, it's difficult to pick one!
MN: You do a lot of charity work yourself and are performing in Belfast for Children in Need, how much of a responsibility do you feel as a celebrity to get involved in charity work and help raise awareness?
Alfie Boe: I think it's really important to be involved in charity. You have a fantastic opportunity, whatever you do in the media, to reach people and it's so important to keep your charity alive and make people aware of what issues are out there and what you need to try to combat and develop. My particular charity is taking music to a younger audience, taking music to children; training the next musicians but also the next audience. And having the access I have through the record label and the media it's an opportunity not to be missed really.
MN: In the lead up to Christmas you are performing at St Paul's Church in Knightsbridge and at the Classic FM Christmas appeal, what is your favourite thing about Christmas and what will you be doing this year?
Alfie Boe: Presents, beer and cake! And a big turkey leg! I'm still a kid at heart so Christmas is a hugely exciting time for me; I go a bit overboard so I'm really looking forward to it this year. I'm going to go back to America as my in-laws are in the States and we're going to go back and do a bit of skiing, have a big Christmas dinner and be with everybody. It snows over there too so it will be a white Christmas and we're renting a beautiful cabin in the mountains where we can all be together and have a good party.
MN: And am I allowed to ask you, are you a leg or a breast man?!
Alfie Boe: Are we still talking about turkey?! I'm dark meat so it's got to be a leg! There's nothing like tucking into a turkey leg in the evening after your Christmas dinner and watching a movie on TV.
MN: What do you really want for Christmas this year? A good opportunity to drop some hints!
Alfie Boe: Peace on earth! World peace! Loads of presents from all my fans, you can send them to PO Box...! For Christmas? I guess the older you get the less it becomes about presents. I just love spending time with family and having a good laugh. The last few years it's been all about ploughing everything into celebration, lots of cheer, good family, good time together. There's obviously a much deeper side to Christmas depending on your religion but for me it's just a case of having a good time and enjoying myself. Having a cosy time. But if anyone does want to send me presents I don't mind!
MN: What three things are essential to you and would be impossible for you to live without?
Alfie Boe: My toothbrush, hair wax and my deodorant! No really, my wife. We're expecting our first so looking forward to having a new addition to the family. And music, of course, and good food.
MN: Your previous two albums went to the no.1 spot in the classical chart, what do you think it is about your music that appeals to so many people?
Alfie Boe: I don't think it has anything to do with me, it's the music really; it speaks for itself. I like to think I help in the way that I put it across and the songs that I choose but the music itself is what really matters when you are choosing a repertoire for an album. The first album was very operatic with arias that people recognised and then the second album had a lot of anthems to make people feel patriotic. I think it's very important to reach people with your music and choose your repertoire carefully and I was very fortunate with the last two albums that I was able to do that. It comes down to the orchestras who play the music too. I have been very fortunate with the ones I have worked with on my albums.
MN: Do you write any of your own music?
Alfie Boe: I have started to write a few songs and melodies, all on a classical theme. A lot of the songs on the album are Italian folk songs and a lot of the stuff I come up with is in that vein. It's something I am developing but I haven't done too much of it as there's a lot of stuff out there to sing already but it's something I'd like to work on for the future.
MN: And what are you planning to do next? What should we look out for from Alfie Boe in 2008?
Alfie Boe: Well, I'm performing at the English National Opera in springtime next year in 'The Merry Widow' and I'm at the Royal Opera house again in a production of Strauss' 'Electra’ but in the middle of that there will be lots of concerts that will be happening and a lot of projects. And again I will be working on a new album this time next year so that will be something else to think about! It's all going well but it's a busy time!
Alfie Boe’s third album 'La Passione’ is being released by EMI Classics on 3rd December.