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  Amici Forever: The Opera Band
Artists: Jo Appleby, Nick Garrett, David Habbin, Geoff Sewell, and Tsakane Valentine 
Label: Victor (2003) 82876-52739-2
Running Length: 48 minutes

How to make opera interesting?  That is a question opera buffs have been considering for a century as they try to entice relatives, friends, and well, everyone to LISTEN.  Friends, I offer “Amici Forever: The Opera Band.”  This group of five classically trained, talented cool singers has just the thing.  They take traditional opera music with innovative arrangements and make it immensely listenable.

There is quite a selection of music on this CD, literally something for everyone. Composers included are George Fredrich  Handel with “Prayer in the Night” from “Sarabande” and “Zadok The Priest.”  The latter selection has been featured at the coronation of every British monarch and includes the lyrics, “…and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon, king and all the people rejoiced.”  Both arrangements of Handel's music are different with “Prayer” having a Latin American beat while “Zadok” has the five singers sounding like an entire chorus.

A contemporary love song, “Canto Alla Vita” (Antonio Galbiati, Giuseppe Dettori and Cheope) begins with flamenco guitar and is especially well pronounced with rolled “r’s” that would make diction teachers smile for a week.  “Requiem for a Soldier” (Michael Kamen and Frank Musker) from the television series “Band of Brothers”, has appropriate lyrics for any time, “…one day you’ll see we can live together when all the world is free.”  

Canadian composer Amy Sky has taken Gabriel Faure’s composition, “Pavane” and added her own lyrics for a beautiful love ballad called “Whisper of Angels.”   “Song To The Moon” (Antonin Dvorak) is a duet for Jo Appleby and Tsakane Valentine and sung in Czechoslovakian.  It concerns a girl singing to her friend about the girl’s love, a handsome prince.   The last selection on the CD is the famous “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot”.  Virtually no album with opera music would be complete without it and you will not be disappointed.  It is eloquently done.

Amici Forever gives the impression that they are having fun with opera music.  This comes when you have mastered your craft and everything that comes with it, especially timing and diction.  This must flow naturally. The five members of Amici Forever: The Opera Band has a unique concept here and this collection showcases what they can do.  Encore.

Copyright 2004 Marie Asner
Submitted 2/8/04 

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