They sing, they wear smart black suits, and they even dance a little. The Ten Tenors have been filling concert halls around the world with their act of opera favourites and popular classics for almost 10 years.
The band is about to return to Sydney for their first shows since 2001, as part of an Australian tour to promote their new album, Tenology, a best-of compilation.
But band member Dion Molinas says the group offers more than just 10 stylish men with great tenor voices belting out classic tunes. He believes the appeal is a little more primal than that.
I think it is all about the testosterone, Brisbane-based Molinas says. It is the strength of the male voice, and hearing the tenor sound from 10 men is quite wonderful and powerful.
The women love it, and straight men are usually dragged along by their wives and enjoy it too. Gay men do come along, and we have a growing gay audience.
We all get marriage proposals every week, or offers from mothers trying to marry off their daughters. I don’t get a lot of fan mail from guys, but I do from girls. I mean -“ go figure about that. Are they blind? Molinas, the band’s only out and proud gay member, says.
Molinas, 29, trained at the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music and has been with The Ten Tenors for the past eight years. The band began in Brisbane 10 years ago, using classically trained singers from the local music conservatorium.
What began as a one-night corporate act (Basically, if you had a black suit and could sing, you were in! Molinas laughs) continues to tour the world and has confirmed bookings for another two years. Molinas calls it the best job he has ever had.
Being on the road with nine straight boys, I really couldn’t ask for better work conditions, he says. In the beginning, some of them were a little young and green and not sure how to handle it [his being gay].
But these days, I am probably the least gay person in the group with the way the other boys carry on, camping it around! It is funny, and it makes me feel completely comfortable and you also know they are very much in touch with their own sexuality.
Because I am the only gay guy in the group, I think they make some compensations and have some fun with me, but they all make sure I am always included. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to work with.
The Ten Tenors are playing four shows at the Theatre Royal, before touring to Newcastle and then to Queensland. The rest of the year is booked with performances in the United States and Germany.
Included in their repertoire are classical works by artists such as Puccini, as well as more contemporary fare including Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and In My Life by The Beatles.
But while the band spends most of each year touring the world, Molinas admits he hopes The Ten Tenors will return to Sydney in the coming years to be a part of the Mardi Gras festival. I think that would be great and I know the other guys would love it. We are waiting for someone to set that up, and I hope it’s not too many years away.
The Ten Tenors play 1-3 September at the Theatre Royal. Bookings: 132 849.