The 'Nation's Tenor' Alfie Boe is contemplating a stage dive when he returns to Birmingham next year, as Alison Jones discovers.
There is no sneaking out of an Alfie Boe concert, as one fan discovered when she tried to steal a march on the packed crown leaving his concert in Symphony Hall last year.
Alfie spotted her progress and leapt down off the stage to pursue her, anxious she shouldn’t miss his big moment – singing Bring Him Home from Les Misérables.
“I thought, ‘This is a great opportunity to make a scene of this’.
“So I walked all the way to the back of the hall right behind her. I was speaking into the microphone in my hand and it was coming over the PA system so she didn’t know until I tapped her on the shoulder.”
However, he wasn’t about to humiliate her in the way of a stand-up comedian who has spotted an audience member nipping to the loo, or coming back tardy from the interval bar.
“It was getting quite late, about 10 o’clock and I had still got my encores to go. It had gone on longer than I expected.
“She was with her husband and they were both quite elderly, so I wasn’t offended at all. They probably had a bus to catch
“I would have given them a lift home if they had waited.
“I gave her a kiss goodnight and said, ‘I’ll see you next time’.”
She might want to stand well back if she does go, because when Alfie returns to Birmingham for his concert next March it will be at the NIA, and he is planning to unleash his inner rock star.
“I do like to connect with the audience and there may be a moment – if the people at the front are young enough and look like they can hold my weight – I might do a stage dive. You never know.
“I will probably be the first tenor to have tried that. I don’t think Pavarotti ever did,” he adds with a laugh.
Fans of Big Luci would have been so stunned if he tried that they would probably have forgotten to catch him.
But Alfie has already crossed that bridge between classical artist and popular performer that Luciano and his fellow tenors, Plácido Domingo and José Carreras, only really did as The Three Tenors.
“There are a number of tenors, classical singers, who are just happy singing classical music. That is all they want to do. Which is fine. There is nothing wrong with that. Everybody has to find their own little niche,” says Alfie.
“But it wasn’t working for me and I had to do something different because my passion was stronger. I had a goal in life to join genres, to break down the barriers.
“All I want to do is sing good songs, and there are many good songs out there, whether they be classical, rock, pop, jazz, folk, country...”
This revolutionary spirit seems entirely fitting for a singer famous for his performances atop the barricades of 19th century France in Les Mis.
By the time he first performed as Jean Valjean, the parole-dodger hunted across the years by the dogged Inspector Javert, Alfie, 38, had been singing professionally for more than a decade.
However, Bring Him Home has now become something of a signature for him.
“I think it was when I did it at the 02 Arena (to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the show. The concert encore performance was dubbed “The Valjean Quartet” — with Alfie singing alongside Colm Wilkinson, John Owen-Jones and Simon Bowman, who have all played Valjean), that was the moment that told me I really had an opportunity to create a different world for myself.”
Now he is not just packing concert halls, he is big enough for arenas.
“The success of the last tour just blew me away. I thought we could carry on like that. Then, when they said I’d be playing arenas, I thought, ‘Wow, this is wonderful!’.”