Though they’ve recently chosen to pursue solo careers, families and other endeavours, the three critically-acclaimed tenors who make up Romanza were smooth as ever for their free concert in the heart of Penticton last week.
Paul Ouellette, Ken Lavigne and Philip Grant worked their magic in Gyro Park Friday, drawing a crowd of 2000 and filling the park in support of the Okanagan Concert Society as they did in 2008.
The three began performing together full-time in 2004, after they met at a casting call for the Canadian Tenors.
“Since those early days we’ve grown to be really close,” said Lavigne.
It was a closeness they shared with the audience as, sprinkled between classics like Danny Boy, Granada, Bring him Home and the Lord’s Prayer, each of them told witty anecdotes about how they got started and their adventures both as soloists and as a group.
The heavy breeze that blew off of Okanagan Lake didn’t prove to be problematic.
“When the weather turned cold, (the audience) all huddled up and stuck it out to the end. I was looking out from the stage and my view was a sea of smiles,” said Lavigne, who got his start singing in his school choir, eventually to be tempted by hearing Pavarotti’s rendition of Nessun Dorma to learn how to sing opera.
It wasn’t an easy learn though, and Lavigne describes his relationship with opera as a love affair.
“No matter how frustrating, there is an unknowable magic that keeps you entranced and coming back,” he said. “Right now, I am poised with more patience and understanding for the craft so the inevitable vocal setbacks don’t throw me like they used to.”
Romanza has made two albums together but for now are focusing on their various personal endeavours. Grant is finishing his PhD in marketing, Ouellette is embarking on a teaching and solo career and Lavigne is promoting several touring projects.
“That said, we’ll tour again as Romanza in a heartbeat when we get the call,” said Lavigne.