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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Alfie Boe, above, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Alfie Boe, above, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown

Boy, Oh, Boe!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 by DEB BOYLAN Special to The Press in Focus

Celebrated 'Les Miserables' English tenor in Lehigh Valley debut at Miller Symphony Hall

Although celebrated tenor Alfie Boe is best-known worldwide as one of Britain's top operatic tenors, he would prefer you think of him as a vocalist.

Proving his versatility again and again, Boe, born Alfred Giovanni Roncalli Boe, has collaborated with the likes of such diverse performers as Robert Plant, Nick Jonas and former Spice Girl Mel C.

He has graced the stage as Jean Valjean in the 25th anniversary concert production of "Les Misérables" (most notably singing "Bring Him Home") in the O2 Arena, London, and he won a combined Tony award in 2003 along with the principal ensemble in director Baz Luhrmann's 2002 Broadway production of Puccini's "LaBoheme." He's performed before the British Royal Family and delighted audiences around the globe.

Boe completed a 17-date United States' tour in fall 2012 and is about to embark on a lengthy tour that will be his largest as a headliner to date. He will be performing in some of the greatest music halls in the United States and United Kingdom. "I'm working on [arranging] my UK arena tour at the moment. I'm planning and plotting the stage performance of that, thinking about that and just putting everything together," says Boe.

Boe will make a stop in Allentown to perform at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St.

Fans attending the concert can expect to hear a wide swath of musical styles from this versatile vocalist.

"It's going to be a mixture of songs from my past albums," explains Boe. "Predominantly, the music from my 'Alfie' album, which includes a fair amount of musical theater [songs] and some ballads as well; a little bit of everything. There's also a section of Neapolitan songs as well, so I'll be incorporating them."

His album, "Alfie," debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Classical Crossover chart and includes a duet with Robert Plant (Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren") and Nick Jonas ("Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," from "Les Miserables," in which Jonas also appeared in the London anniversary concert). "Alfie" is a hit with listeners and has sold more than 1 million copies.

Boe enjoys performing for American fans. "I've noticed a slight difference," he says when asked to contrast U.S. audiences to those in the United Kingdom. "The audiences in America seem to go a little wilder. They tend to really connect and like the aspect of live music. The English audiences like a good time, as well, but I think there is an element of conservative attitude when you play for a U.K. audience, compared with an American audience."

Boe has performed at charity functions for Charles the Prince of Wales, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert this past June and the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. "I've been fortunate enough to meet them before [the Royal Family], but singing at the Diamond Jubilee was something else. I've got to say that was pretty incredible and very special. I was nervous, but I was also very excited, too."

If Boe has a wish list of future collaborators, he's not telling. "There are lots of people I'd like to collaborate with, but I sort of treat that the same way that I treat singing new roles. I don't like to say who I'd like to collaborate with because I might not get that opportunity," he says.

"It's just a case of what's happening and what we are doing at the time, the company I am sharing. It just seems to cross the path when it is right. But yes, I have my own dreams of singing with people. So, you never know.

"I don't really close the door on anything," he says when asked about a return to the stage. "I like to think that those opportunities will arise. Yes, I'd like to do another musical theater piece. I'd like to do another opera just keep the options open really. I keep myself open to all opportunities and I think with my diverse interests in music that enables me to go in whatever direction I can. I'm very fortunate.

"I'm really looking forward to coming over and playing. I enjoyed my last American tour in October and I'm really looking forward to coming back and playing a few more shows. I hope the audience will enjoy it."