Three Mo' Tenors showcase versatility

Concert: The classically trained singers launched the Anne Arundel Community Concert Association's 50th anniversary with a performance that blended opera and jazz.

Howard Live

September 27, 2001|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Three Mo' Tenors are so versatile that they might also be called Three Tenors and More.

Coming off a television appearance that introduced them to a national audience, the classically trained tenors launched the Anne Arundel Community Concert Association's golden anniversary celebration Friday with a sparkling concert that blended opera and jazz.

Appearing before a near-capacity audience at the Chesapeake Center for the Creative Arts, Thomas Young, Rodrick Dixon and Victor Trent Cook displayed golden voices and an abundance of musicality, soul, spirituality, rhythm and infectious joy.

Wisely repeating much of the material from their appearance last month on the PBS program Great Performances, the Tenors opened last week's concert with Giuseppe Verdi's "La Donna e mobile" from Rigoletto, with each taking a solo turn. Their exciting harmonies gained an added dimension with Cook's dazzling countertenor.

Young's "Nessun dorma" from Giacomo Puccini's Turandot seemed more sublime live than during the group's appearance on Great Performances.

Those who heard Dixon's "Ah, Mes Amis, Pour Mon Ame" from Gaetano Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment on the television program witnessed an equally fearless live performance Friday.

The trio's expertise with the classical repertoire only began to showcase their talents. Cook brought Cab Calloway back to life with a lively version of "Minnie the Moocher." That was followed by a poignant, soul-stirring "Were You There?" that recalled the abiding faith and consummate artistry of Marian Anderson.

After the operatic arias, the tenors turned to popular music, bringing a classical dimension to Broadway tunes and jazz.

When Young sang Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns," he invested it with more feeling and substance than the song seemed to possess. And Young's scat singing rivaled the great Ella Fitzgerald's.

The trio sang a heartfelt "America the Beautiful" that seemed to have new meaning after Sept. 11.

Equally stirring was Dixon's "Make them Hear You" from the Ahrens-Flaherty show Ragtime. The song spoke eloquently of the injustice that still exists preventing African-American tenors from being heard.

The trio's producer Marion J. Caffey has said he was inspired by the original Three Tenors, Carreras, Domingo and Pavarotti, to present classically trained voices tackling other genres of music, such as gospel, jazz, blues, Broadway, soul and spirituals.

Caffey has said he "wanted to emphasize the versatility of African-American operatic tenors" to prove that they can sing challenging roles in opera houses, where few black men are seen.

The group's performance at the Chesapeake Center will be difficult to top, but they are scheduled to return to the Baltimore area for concerts Jan. 22 and March 19 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

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