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Ten Tenors not only sound great, they look good too

The pretty boys shake up the Pantages in an electrifying, lively show.

October 26, 2006|Daryl H. Miller | Times Staff Writer

IF the music thing doesn't work out, perhaps the Ten Tenors will find a future in modeling. These Australian singers, mostly in their late 20s, are serious musicians as eager to perform opera as classic rock. Over a decade, they've built an audience at home and in Europe, and they're beginning to make an impression in the States. Their youthful good looks have, no doubt, helped get them this far. Sex sells, after all.

But the marketing threatens to overwhelm the music as they release their most professional album yet and arrive for their first Los Angeles engagement: an ambitious 16 performances at the 2,704-seat Pantages Theatre.

Ads feature what looks like a Gap-campaign photo in which the singers sport pretty-boy pouts and glares. The serious-faced glamour is also part of the show, which opened Tuesday.

Artfully arrayed on the stage, the singers -- who perform mostly as a choir, with soloists breaking out here and there -- are precisely drilled in everything, from the uniformity of vocal entrances and cutoffs to the unison raising and lowering of their hand-held mikes.

Roving rock-concert lights cut through the hazy gloom, and four instrumentalists provide thickly synthesized accompaniment that pulses along like a Bollywood soundtrack. At virtually all times in the two-act, two-hour show, the singers wear those somber, smoldering expressions.

Their sound, though, is what's truly sexy. The cluster of high voices generates pure electricity and undeniable drama.

The effect is employed, full-force, in "Here's to the Heroes," the title song from the new movie-themed album that teams the tenors with film composer John Barry. With lyrics by Don Black, "Heroes," a majestic theme from "Dances With Wolves," pushes ever upward, sending the tenors into the stratosphere.

Opera includes the lively "Largo al factotum," from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," performed as a one-upmanship contest in a party-like atmosphere. Awaiting as an encore is a biggie in the old Three Tenors playbook: "Nessun dorma," from Puccini's "Turandot."

The song that really energizes the crowd, however, is the classic Queen rock-homage to opera, "Bohemian Rhapsody." Pitched so high that only Freddie Mercury's freakish vocal cords have ever done it true justice, the song takes the tenors to the top of their range. Cutting loose, they preen and head-bang like arena gods. It's one of the few times the pretense melts away and the tenors just have fun making music. More of this, guys, please.


The Ten Tenors

Where: Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays

Ends: Nov. 5

Price: $25 to $58

Info: (213) 365-3500 or

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