For those who have become enamored with the voice and musicianship of Alfred Boe, this recording of songs from the operettas of Franz Lehár will be met with excitement. Though this recording was made from May 19 - 21, 2009 in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and released in the UK that year, it is only now available in the US as of this year. According to Boe, "I have to say that recording the album `Franz Lehar: Love was a Dream' was the most enjoyable recording sessions I have ever been involved in. The studio was the stage of The Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. Normally when recording the voice you get separated from the orchestra but in this case I had the opportunity to stand and record my vocal in the middle of the string section. In my opinion this creates a solid connection with the players and forms a unity of sound. Also having the live connection with your conductor makes a huge difference. There were moments in the sessions when I really picked up on the melody of the instruments surrounding me and began to really understand their contribution to the score. The Orchestra of Scottish Opera were amazing, the control they had with the delicate musical structures and simplicity of sound, for the Lehar score, was perfection. I really hope we can work together again in the future.
Franz Lehár (30 April 1870 - 24 October 1948) and it is no exaggeration to say that his 1905 The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe) ushered in not only a new age in Viennese operetta, but was the work which showed the way for a new style of, purely twentieth-century, musical play. Between then and 1934, when his last stage work, Giuditta, was premiered, Lehár knew an almost uninterrupted success. He was the logical successor to Johann Strauss II as Vienna's waltz king, and his work inspired two generations of composers on both sides of the Atlantic. Honoring Lehár in this album seems appropriate for Boe whose voice and manner has been compared to the late Richard Tauber who premiered many of the roles Boe recreates. The German lyrics are translated into English and for the most part the lyrics work well as translations.
But it is Alfie Boe's creamy tenor voice that captures the flavor of these much loved arias/songs. Included in this album are ' Just believe it's true' Schon ist die Welt), Vilia (The Merry Widow), Girls were made to love and kiss (Paganini), Oh maiden, my maiden (Frederica, You are my heart's delight (The Land of Smiles), Love was a dream (Giuditta), Beautiful Italy (Paganini), Patiently Smiling (The Land of Smiles), Love unspoken (The Merry Widow), Friends, this is the life for me! (Giuditta), Beneath the window (The Land of Smiles), and Farewell, my love, farewell (Frasquita). There isn't a weak trak here, though it does take a bit of readjustment to hear 'Vilia' sung by a male voice!
Alfie Boe continues to gather a large throng of supporters. He is well worthy of that acclaim. Grady Harp, September 11