The Ten Tenors

The Ten Tenors are getting ready for their fifth visit to America but there’s a couple of factors that differentiate this tour. First of all, it’s just going to be bigger – more media attention, larger audiences.

Second, this will be the first tour presented from start to finish by Magic Arts & Entertainment – the production company associated with David Copperfield for the past 20 years as well as Michael Flatley’s “Lord Of The Dance.”

“This is the type of act we’ll do the entire tour for,” Magic President/CEO Lee Marshall told Pollstar. “It’s our M.O. and, usually, when Magic puts its name on something, it’s something that sells tickets.”

They’re bringing 10 guys from Australia who sing opera and pop – everything from “Che Gelida Manina” from Puccini’s “La Boheme” to Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and showstopper “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

The Ten Tenors have been seen by 77 million people worldwide and played with artists like Rod Stewart, Andrea Bocelli, Alanis Morissette and Willie Nelson. The fall U.S. leg includes a two-night return visit to Ontario’s 5,000-capacity Casino Rama and a 16-show stay at Dayton, Ohio’s 900-capacity Victoria Theatre.

“We’re on pace to sell out the whole two weeks,” Marshall said.

The concept isn’t some concoction by a music impresario. The idea grew organically about 10 years ago.

“The guys were all at the Conservatorium here in Brisbane, all studying to be classical opera singers,” manager D-J Wendt recalled. “They could see the future for them as classical opera singers being either waiting tables or flipping burgers at McDonalds, or waiting in the wings hoping to get a gig at the local opera company.”

The guys spent a lot of time backstage at student operas, so they started monkeying around during the downtime, having some fun and composing arrangements.

“They decided, ‘We should actually do this stuff up on the stage.'” Wendt said.

The tenors arranged a three-song repertoire for a television network birthday party, which garnered a magnificent response. They eventually came to Wendt’s management firm, dmand, for representation.

“At first we thought, ‘What the hell do we do with this?'” Wendt said. “We had only worked with rock bands. We just started by touring them like a rock band. We stuck them in a 12-seater minivan, and my partner and I drew straws to see who was going to go with them on the road. We had one piano player with them, the 10 guys and one of us, and we headed off and drove eight hours to the first gig.”

“The Ten Tenors”

The group’s gigs eventually grew to the 600- to 1,200-seat range. Meanwhile, in the studio, pop standards were added to the repertoire, creating a killer marketing package. By the time The Ten Tenors arrived in Germany, appearing at spiegeltents in Berlin and Hamburg, record companies across the Continent wanted to be a part of the project.

“We came to America in a similar vein,” Wendt said. “A promoter in Florida, John Wilkes, heard of the group … and he approached us to bring them to the States.”

The promoter, who is executive director of Sarasota, Fla.’s Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, told Pollstar he learned of The Ten Tenors through Jeanie Thompson of Seigel Artist Management, which booked the group for a while.

“When I first saw the publicity picture of those 10 good-looking guys in open-necked tuxedos, I thought, ‘There’s a great marketing job on somebody I haven’t even heard of.’ Then, when I listened to them, I thought they were not only an extremely marketable group but an extremely talented one,” Wilkes said.

He got 85 percent capacity on the unknown act and booked them the next three consecutive years. The Ten Tenors return to Van Wezel in April.

“It’s one hell of an entertaining, extremely professional show. They always, always please the audience. Everybody I see in the lobby says to bring them back next year,” Wilkes said.

“It’s important for buyers to know that D-J and company are a pleasure to work with, they’re consummate pros, and any presenter will find them extremely cooperative and pleasant to work with. They want the presenter to be as successful as the artists are.”

One of the new additions is a “boy band” medley, but Wendt said that was put together to market to the national media for pre-tour publicity.

“They’ve been doing it a lot longer than the Il Divos, the Amicis, all of those guys,” the manager said, adding that England’s G4 opera quartet sings a version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that has a suspiciously familiar arrangement.

As for the choreography of The Ten Tenors, Wendt had some fun with them. “Rhapsody” includes a chance for the guys to rock out, hopping around the stage in an operatic version of a mosh pit. But as for the word “choreography,” Wendt cheerfully agreed it was a stretch.

“They’re not dancers, that’s for sure.”