Alfie Boe or, as Michael Volpe Suggests, Alfie Boellocks? You decide

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 5 June 2011 | 8:01:00 am

"I was supposed to be watching Parsifal...at the Royal Opera House. I used to find an empty box, bring a pillow in from home and fall asleep" Alfi Boe, Desert Island Discs, 2011

Someone called Alfie Bow (or is that Boe) - a tenor we believe who sings in "musical" theatre -appeared on Desert Island Discs recently.

Three things of interest:

1 - He trained in opera, attending Royal College of Music, the National Opera Studio and the Royal Opera House’s Villar Young Artists Programme.

2 - In 2007 he was appointed as an ambassador of The Prince of Wales Arts & Kids Foundation, a British educational charity working to inspire and educate children by introducing them to the arts. Boe's role being to bring music, and opera in particular for those children involved

3 - He now claims to not be engaged by opera and finds it "boring".

On Desert Island Discs he chose no opera music saying:

"I can actually say that I never go to the opera. I go there and I feel very uncomfy. I just feel like it's not my world." 
"I was supposed to be watching Parsifal, a five-hour opera at the Royal Opera House. It was part of the programme I was on there to sit through these operas and I used to sleep through most of them. I used to find an empty box, bring a pillow in from home and fall asleep." (I am sure all of those people standing with their ten pound tickets are over-joyed to hear that at least he was "comfy".) 
All of which one supposes, is fine as personal opinion, unless one looks at the number of young singers who would fight for much of the tuition he has had. Also,  is this really the best person to represent The Prince of Wales Arts; Kids Foundation to promote opera to children? Perhaps he would have been better to have mentioned this before taking on this role - which no doubt provided good publicity to his career at the time?

And how has the opera community responded? :
Michael Volpe general manager at Opera Holland Park, said he thought Boe's criticism was tactical. "It seems to me that Alfie, who has made a career from opera, is worried that he might risk his crossover sales by being associated with it. Sounds like complete and utter drivel to me, but I wish him well at the next Classical Brits. These people who caricature opera really are tedious. We should rename him Alfie Boellocks.

Claire Wild, a mezzo-soprano who has recently starred in Opera North's production of Carmen, said: "Opera is one of the greatest of all art forms. To reject opera is like rejecting the whole of historical literature in favour of Hello! magazine."

A spokesman for the Royal Opera House was indignant about the assessment. He said: "Our productions entertain thousands of people every year, in the auditorium, in cinemas and on DVDs."

Adam Spreadbury-Maher, director of OperaUpClose, questioned Boe's assessment of the art: "It's not fair to call opera boring, and if you are, you're probably looking in the wrong places. Something extremely exciting is happening at the moment; opera is getting sexy and cool.
More: The Independent