The Ten Tenors Pitch it High 

at the Pantages

by James Koenig

HOLLYWOOD, CA - It was hard to know just what to expect from the Ten Tenors as I entered the decadently Deco Pantages Theater (6233 Hollywood Blvd) last night for the opening of “The Ten Tenors”– the high pitched “met-each-other-in-music-conservatory” nearly a decade ago “Boy Band” from “Down Under.”  Is Australia two short of a dozen Andrea Bocelli’s?  Should there be a warning for anyone prone to hypo-glycemea? What have Pavarotti, Domingo, and Carraras wrought– when they started their Three Tenors stadium frenzy years ago.  Add that to a decade (or is it two) of “the guys” doing everything from God knows how many “Mo tenors...” to the Full Monty, to Cable’s Strip Search and you get a strange recipe for camaraderie and eye-candy and swoon-sation.   While The Ten Tenors were neither beef-cake nor bel canto they do turn in a solid show in it’s genre.

The show is proof positive that vaudeville is not dead, that P.T. Barnum is alive, and that Las Vegas is only a hop across the desert.  I must admit that on their first entrance in their black suits I thought – “Oh yeah, hit men!  They’re gonna hit high notes.”  (Actually I thought they had maybe flown in those suits and maybe somebody could press them.)  I also couldn’t help but wonder in this day of over-miked everything, if anyone had thought of body-mikes instead of ten hand-held mikes manipulated like so many synchronized tiny dumb-bells.  The sound engineering of the show could be fine tuned.  It was better further back in the house than in the front.  But the synthesizer accompaniment, while skillfully rendered, at times overpowered the voices– which were all worth hearing.

The group stays in perpetual motion singing excellent arrangements for the ten high voices– juxtaposed with songs that feature various performers most effectively.  As the evening progresses the “onslaught” of “all those tenors” allows the personalities of individuals to come through.  Each one of the ten has his own sound– and the arrangements showcase all.  The most effective pieces musically are the arrangements of original musical material along with unique ten tenor visits to songs by Queen and Simon and Garfunkel.  Their pop arrangements are sung lyrically and quite beautifully.

This is not a night at the opera– although the group pays homage with several arrangements of operatic duets and arias.  Some of the voices could probably approach opera– with a different kind of discipline. (Don’t forget the fact that opera, as Rossini said, is all about “Voce, voce, voce!” (That’s unamplified voce, voce, voce.) 


The group does Figaro’s aria “Largo al factotum.” from Rossini’s Barber of Seville.  Did anyone tell them it’s a famous baritone aria?  We also got Pagliacci’s “Vesti la Giubba” in syllabic Italian– a few steps above karaoke, but none-the-less not idiosyncratic Italian (In the course of the present day penchant for the “dumbing down of things” into “product” we got the “Figaro, Figaro” aria and the “No more Rice Crispies” aria.  


They did a lovely arrangement of the duet from Bizet’s opera “The Pearl Fishers.” I was grateful they didn’t sing “Nessun Dorman.” All in all– it can be quite a pleasant night – but, for some reason I kept thinking we had walked through the casino to get to the theater. - James Koenig

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