Singing Aussies

Boyd Owen, a member of the Ten Tenors, uses one word to describe the brand of fun that the singing studs bring to the stage: "Australian."

"What do you expect? We come straight from the beach," he says. "We like to mess around and have fun, and we bring that into our shows."

These Aussies in matching suits have gained international acclaim not only for their synchronized pipes, but for their ability to merge rock, pop, jazz and classical music, says Marc Viscardi of Broadway in Tucson, the organization that's bringing the Ten Tenors to Tucson.

"These are a bunch of extremely talented guys. ... They've got a personable stage presence and beautiful voices," says Viscardi. "For me, their real charm is in their humor. Audiences are very receptive to that, and they feed off of each other."

Of course, as Owen says, it doesn't hurt that all of the performers look great in a suit.

Tucsonans can be the judge of that when the Ten Tenors make their way to the Sonoran Desert for eight shows at the Fox Tucson Theatre as part of their Nostalgica World Tour 2009.

The group has been on three different continents during the tour; it may sound more like a vacation than a job, but it's not all fun and games. Owen says that being a Ten Tenor takes discipline—they often perform six nights a week, and tour 10 months out of the year. The boys average 250 annual international concerts.

Considering all of that time together (not to mention a pool of testosterone and flowing creative juices), these guys must butt heads once in a while. Right?

"There is the occasional smack-down," says Owen. "We literally spend all day together. Sometimes, you've got to put two of us in the ring."

But the friends usually move past any tiffs quickly; in fact, Owen says the group is like his second family.

The Ten Tenors lineup has evolved since the ensemble formed in the mid-1990s. Former mates have grown up, had kids and left their Tenor days behind. The original 10 were a group of students from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music who joined forces to put on a couple of small gigs.

Owen says they came on the scene just as "classical music moved from the opera house into people's CD collections," thanks to the likes of Andrea Bocelli and the Three Tenors.

This tour is reflective of their latest album, Nostalgica. The album had some big names behind it, including Grammy Award-winning producer Simon Franglen. Nostalgica, both the tour and the CD, is romantically themed, with renditions of "Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World." Owen calls them ballads "that people have their first kiss to."

In their quirky Down Under style, the Ten Tenors will mix up their Tucson shows with holiday favorites. The second half will include a tribute to Queen, which is usually their most popular segment.

"We'll have guys in the audience that are dragged there by their girlfriends, but by the end of 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' they're on their feet singing along like we're in a bar," says Owen.

This sounds like quite a departure from the quiet, buttoned up opera-goers that you might expect to attend a Ten Tenors concert; it goes to show how the Ten Tenors have garnered fame for their ability to deliver quality classical sounds without the stuffy vibe.

After a recent show in Peru, Owen says, fans of all ages were lined up outside the guys' hotel rooms at 2 a.m.

The coordinator of the Tucson show has been bitten by the Ten Tenors bug, too.

"I do have an autographed picture in my office, because they are cutie-patooties," says Kate Calhoun, the sales and marketing director at the Tucson Convention Center. Calhoun coordinated the event as part of a partnership between the Fox and the TCC.

Viscardi says that this will be the Ten Tenors' third appearance in Tucson, and the decision to bring them back for a romantic holiday hurrah was a no-brainer.

"The audiences in Tucson love them," he says. "All of the music is really familiar to everyone ... not to mention they are a good-looking bunch."

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