CANADIAN TENORS GET ‘KISS’ OF APPROVAL FROM GENE SIMMONS:
February 18, 2009
KISS frontman Gene Simmons isn’t a big opera fan, but he does have a good entrepreneurial eye, and the first time he witnessed The Canadian Tenors he loved what he heard.
In addition to those four soaring voices, Simmons heard the loud “ka-ching” of cash.
“He said we had the goods to be the complete package,” says Gatineau’s Ramigio Pereira, speaking about the Toronto gig they did for the rock icon.
“We are popular with women. Our audience is 90% female, the other 10% are the husbands. He told us to never get married, for business reasons.”
The phenomenal success of popera’s original boy band The Three Tenors — Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and the other guy (Jose Carreras) — meant more international spinoffs of the franchise, including a Canadian version, were inevitable.
The floodgates opened and out poured The Irish Tenors, The Celtic Tenors, The American Tenors, Brit cellphone salesman turned opera singer Paul Potts, Il Divo and even a trio of heavenly tenors dubbed The Priests.
No doubt about it, with a new hit record, an ambitious and high-profile concert tour and an endorsement deal with Armani, who supplies all their clothing, The Canadian Tenors — Fraser Walters, Jamie McKnight, Victor Micallef and Pereira — have what it takes to be successful.
“Pavarotti said the tenor voice is like a wild horse. It’s beautiful but dangerous. It’s the most emotional,” says Pereira.
“You can feel the testosterone. So when all four of us are singing at full throttle, you can really feel it. The audience knows we’re romantic guys. Our concert is like Metallica meets Pavarotti. They can feel it when we sing.”
Not surprisingly, they back up those claims on the new CD, with Italian aria-like love songs Adagio and Luna, and covers of Canadian tunes, including Rita MacNeil’s Home I’ll Be and David Foster’s Because We Believe.
It’s the original Canadian content that Pereira thinks makes the album unique.
“We take our music very seriously. We have the marketability with women, which is nice, but we’re all classically trained singers and musicians first.
“We can fill a room without a microphone when we sing.”
Pereira, who speaks four languages fluently, was more interested in making the NHL than La Scala until he was sidelined with a career-ending injury.
That’s when he exchanged his hockey stick for a classical guitar at the University of Ottawa and eventually began singing in the Opera Lyra Chorus where he caught the eye of Canadian composer Jill Anne Siemens, who invited him to audition for the Tenors in 2007.
Since then, the band has been touring the globe more than the governor general, visiting Scandinavia, Africa and the Middle East, where they joined Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli in song for the 10th anniversary of Shimon Peres’ Peace Initiative.
And, they met former U.S. president Bill Clinton at an event at which they were attending.
“That was a real thrill,” Pereira says. “We joked that the next time we meet, he should bring his sax and we could play together.”