Boe to star in Villa

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ONE of Britain’s favourite opera stars will take to the Villa Marina stage tomorrow night.

Alfie Boe is currently playing the lead role of Jean Valjean in London’s Les Miserables with Manx-born starlet Sam Barks.

But the northern tenor will take a break from his hectic schedule this weekend to perform in the Royal Hall with the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Morgan.

Not many teenage boys in the fishing port of Fleetwood, Lancashire, dreamed of a career as an opera singer.

But then not many teenage boys in Fleetwood grew up with a dad who played his favourite operatic arias to his nine children during family Sunday lunches. Alfie Boe preferred football, girls and rock music.

But something must have rubbed off from those afternoons around the dining room table because today, at the age of 37, Boe is a very successful and popular opera singer.

At the age of 14, he joined a local amateur operatic company, encouraged not so much by the chance to sing as by his sister’s promise that it would be a good way to meet girls.

He had never seen a live musical show until he starred in one, singing tunes from the big West End shows.

At 16, having sung his way through the shows, he joined the chorus of amateur productions of Carmen and Il Trovatore in Preston.

Already, locals with an ear for talent began to suggest that the gifted teenage tenor might even go professional.

Instead, at 17, he began work as an apprentice mechanic in the local TVR car factory, where he spray-painted cars as they came off the production line.

To relieve the boredom, he would often sing along to the radio for some of his workmates, while at weekends he performed on the club circuit, singing ballads, show tunes and pop standards.

At the time Boe had no idea where his musical future might lie. ‘It could have been pop,’ he admitted, ‘or even musical theatre. I had no idea I could possibly become an opera singer – probably because of my background.’

Yet that’s exactly what happened, thanks to a customer at the factory who worked in the music industry and heard Alfie’s already impressive tenor voice.

The mystery man told him the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company was auditioning for a tour and that he should apply.

So the apprentice mechanic made the journey to London and got the job!

For 12 months he toured the country singing Gilbert and Sullivan classics before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London.

He now has many albums under his belt, as well as Classical Brit Award nominations.

Boe now lives in London with his actress wife Sarah and their two-year-old daughter Grace.

He will be suppported in his Douglas show by international Irish soprano Margaret Keys, who recently sang in the Villa with the Warrington Male Voice Choir in the Salute to the Brave concert.

Her Manx shows follow a US tour. She has won numerous awards, including the International Artists Profile Award, the New York Artist Award, and was a finalist in the RTE Young Diva of the Year.

She was also the winner of the BBC Fame Academy Award and has worked and trained alongside the stars, directors and producers of several Broadway productions.

Keys, who trained with the Opera New York Company, has since gained an international reputation in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK.

Her latest album, Legato, debuted at Number 14 in the charts and last July she performed in the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall.

l Tickets for the show, which begins at 8pm tomorrow, start at £45.

They are available now via the Ticket Hotline on 600 555, at the Sea Terminal Welcome Centre or online at www.villagaiety.com

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