Alfie Boe, actor and classical singer, chats with Kevin Cooper about his love of touring, his musical inspirations, the release of his new album ‘Serenata’ and his forthcoming UK Arena tour.

Alfred Giovanni Roncalli Boe, more commonly known as Alfie Boe, is an English tenor singer and actor, notably performing in musical theatre. He was best known for his internationally critically acclaimed performances as Jean Valjean in the musical Les Misérables, a performance which was celebrated at the Les Misérables: 25th Anniversary Concert in October 2010. As well, Boe shared a Tony Award with the other members of the ensemble cast of Baz Luhrmann’s 2002 revival of La Bohème in 2003.

But now this classical crossover singer hailing from Blackpool has developed into one of the country’s leading classical and operatic singers, and one of the only remaining true tenors the country can boast today. He has been singing professionally since the eve of the millennium, and has come a long way over the past decade.

Kicking of his career after a client overheard him singing at the car factory in which he worked, he went on to perform with the Clint Boon experience as well as in his own right, also notching up stints on Broadway.

Though he began appearing on recordings as far back as 1999, the star first put out his own release in 2006, with ‘The Sound of Alfie Boe’. Though he’s a talented and prolific studio force, on stage is where you really need to experience Alfie Boe. He is always giving his fans the chance to capture his incredible voice in person, and having toured throughout 2013 he now returns to the arenas.

Taking time out from his busy schedule to talk to Kevin Cooper, this is what he had to say:


Hi Alfie how are you?

I’m very well thank you, how are you Kevin?

I’m good thank you. Let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me.

No worries, no problem at all.

So how is life treating you?

Very good at the minute although it’s quite busy; quite hectic. I am busy planning the tour like crazy but I believe that we are coming up with a pretty good show. But all is going well at the minute.

You have mentioned the forthcoming UK tour, are you looking forward to it?

I can’t wait Kevin, I’m thrilled (laughter). I love playing the venues of that size; the large arenas are something very special. The good thing about playing arenas is that you are faced with the challenge of being able to really captivate every single member of that audience and bring them right into the show. This particular show for me is going to be very different to my last arena tour which was quite crazy and a bit hectic, as I was running around a lot. Obviously it was a different repertoire, the ‘Storyteller’ album was quite modern music; pop music, but this album which I want to promote on the tour which is called ‘Serenata’ and has a lot of the Italian repertoire. But I will also be touching on a lot of my older repertoire too. We are linking it all together and it is going to be a full and complete classy show complete with an orchestra. It is going to be very nice, very special.

When I saw you here in Nottingham last year you were performing at the Royal Concert Hall. Which do you prefer, the small, intimate venues or the larger arenas?

I love the small, intimate theatres Kevin, I love the smaller concert halls and I also love the arenas, but to be honest I just love performing in front of audiences. That’s all that it comes down to; I just love playing to an audience. But the arenas are quite challenging in that because of the size that they are, I really have to try and bring as many people from the audience down in to the show and really bring them in to the focus of the songs. This tour in particular is going to be very much about the music, very much about the words of the songs and the meaning of the songs. My performance is going to be quite still, and classy, and we are giving the show a real vintage vibe; a real classical vibe. It is a very different approach to the last tour.

Were you pleased with how well last year’s tour was received?

I was yes Kevin. We had everyone on their feet and we had people dancing, and it was a different atmosphere completely to the one that I want to try and create with this show. But I was very pleased with the way that the last tour went, but again I like to vary up my shows and my performances as much as I like to have a nice variety of songs as well. So this show in particular is going to be much more choreographed. The lighting is going to be very delicate, special and unique. I think that it is going to hit a lot of people and bring them to a number of memories in their lives, taking them on a bit of a journey really.

Tell me a little about the new album.

Well it’s called ‘Serenata’ and it is a lot of Italian repertoire, so that will be featured in the concert itself. These are songs that I have actually had on the books for a long, long time. I am a big fan of the Italian folk songs; the Neapolitan Arias, I love those sorts of songs Kevin. They span a lot of different generations. You have people like Luciano Pavarotti and Enrico Caruso who sing this type of repertoire, but you also have people like Dean Martin, Elvis Presley and Sophia Loren who also sing this kind of repertoire. It’s incredible the amount of people that have taken this sort of music on board. These sort of songs lend themselves to the classical voice; they are Italian after all. The melodies blossom and bloom which only show off a classically trained voice to the best of its ability. And that’s why a lot of opera singers sing this kind of repertoire. It can be tough as some of the songs can be very hard to do, you have to make sure that you are on good form, which hopefully I will be (laughter).

What can we expect from the show?

Well Kevin, as well as songs off the new album I will also be singing a lot of my older repertoire; for example, obviously my ‘Bring Him Home’ and my Les Misérables repertoire. I will be singing ‘Wheels Of A Dream’ and ‘Being Alive’ together with some of my older hits from the musical theatre world. The way that we are going to link the Italian songs with this sort of repertoire is going to be very special. I think that we are going to make it a united show and not different sections to the show; it will be one full production.

Does touring still excite you?

I love touring Kevin I really do. I think that it is great to have the opportunity to tour like this and to play in different parts of the country in a short amount of time. Its two and a half weeks that I am going to be out on the road with this particular tour, but it is great for me. I absolutely love playing to different audiences. You do get different audiences, and you do get different characters in different parts of the country and you have to be prepared for that as well. You have to be prepared to take on board different characters and different audiences. But that’s a good thing and that is part of my job.

The other side of the coin is do you get nervous at all?

I do (laughter) the nerves are also a part of the job. The nerves are part of my particular preparation for a show, because all that nerves are really is you wanting to do well, wanting to achieve a good performance, wanting to please your audience, and wanting to be on good form. I do get nervous and I think that it is part of a lot of performer’s lives. It is a strange thing to do; to walk out onto a platform in front of 15 thousand people and sing for two and a half hours (laughter). It is fun when you get into it, the nerves are part of the job so I have to deal with them, to channel them in the right way, and make sure that they work in my favour.

Who has inspired you?

Oh my goodness (laughter) I have a number of singers who I have been influenced by in my career, from classical opera singers to rock singers. I love Pavarotti’s voice, and he is someone who I have followed from a very early age, and was blown away by the sound that he created. A lot of old opera singers have done that for me, but also a lot of rock singers have done that for me also. People like Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant, these are guys that really have sets of pipes on them and can bang out a tune. We are all very different singers but we are all singing music when it comes down to it.

I have to ask you, what was it like performing at the Les Misérables: 25th Anniversary Concert in October 2010?

That was incredible, that was an amazing event for me. It feels quite strange for me to be going back to the O2 Arena in London on this particular tour to play the same stage as I did as an ensemble member of Les Misérables, but this time I was going back, basically representing myself. It is quite an achievement and it is going to be a notch in my belt to play this venue as Alfie Boe and not as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. But that night was something else, it really was, because that is really where it all started for me. So getting the opportunity to sing ‘Bring Him Home’ on that stage again on this tour, after so many years, is going to be a blessing.

You seem to spend a lot of time here in Nottingham. Do you like the city?

Oh my goodness, I have spent so much time in Nottingham (laughter). I love Nottingham. My brother was based in Nottingham for many years in the Royal Air Force. I have been to Nottingham a fair few times; I have played a number of Festivals there, and of course the Concert Hall, and theatres there as well. I like Nottingham and think that it is a wonderful city and I can’t wait to come back.

Alfie, I wish you all the very best with both the tour and the album.

Thank you very much Kevin and I look forward to seeing you, and I hope that you enjoy the show.


Supporting Alfie Boe on this arena tour is Sole Mio


Tour Dates:

Saturday 29 November                 Newcastle Metro Radio Arena

Sunday 20 November                    Liverpool Echo Arena

Wednesday 3 December               Nottingham Capital FM Arena

Friday 5 December                         Leeds First Direct Arena

Saturday 6 December                    Manchester Phones 4u Arena

Monday 8 December                     Bournemouth BIC Arena

Tuesday 9 December                     Brighton Centre

Thursday 11 December                 Birmingham LG Arena

Friday 12 December                       London The O2

Saturday 13 December                  Cardiff Motorpoint Arena