Opera purists may not like it but there are plenty who do
Having already ruffled a few feathers by accusing the opera world of being snobbish and performing on, Heaven forbid, Broadway, "Bad Boy of Opera" Alfie Boe continues to gently but unapologetically go against the grain.
And now the phenomenally popular tenor has recorded an album of timeless favourites, which left the likes of Rizzle Kicks, Manic Street Preachers and Justin Bieber for dust when it entered the album charts.
It's a rare achievement for someone in the opera world to cross over and become a mainstream sensation.
"I just put it down to the music. I think I'm singing what people want to hear and they seem to like what I do and how I sound. I just hope it continues like that," says the Lancashire-born singer, who, having conquered the world's most prestigious opera stages, and led the cast of Les Mis for the best part of a year, now embarks on a UK tour.
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Alfie boasts a long and illustrious opera career, but it is only recently that his profile has shifted up a gear, thanks to the outstanding Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert at London's O2 Arena.
He says: "Things did change after that initial concert. Pretty much the following day I could see a lot of things happening and changing for me. I'd suddenly reached this massive audience – as well as the 20,000 in the crowd each night, the concert was broadcast to UK cinemas and PBS broadcast in America. That created a lot of interest."
After years of formal opera training at the D'Oyly Carte, the Royal College Of Music, The National Opera Studio and the Royal Opera House, Alfie reached a point where he wanted to stretch his wings.
He took flight in 2002, leaving his education to play the lead in Baz Luhrmann's La Bohème on Broadway.
Many – critics, opera managers, singers and directors – said it was a controversial staging and that he was making a wrong move.
"They were always questioning, 'Why are you doing this La Bohème on Broadway?'," says Alfie. "And I said, 'Why not?' That was always my answer. 'Why not?'"
Alfie is now preparing for his tour, following the release of his second, self-titled album, delivering such classics as the ever popular When I Fall In Love, Leonard Bernstein's impassioned Maria from West Side Story and Ewan MacColl's heartfelt folk song The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
Having teamed up with good friend Matt Lucas for a duet on his first album, Bring Him Home, Alfie continues to surprise us with his unlikely, but perfect, pairings and he is joined here by one of his heroes, rock legend Robert Plant.
With two hit albums and a wealth of classical opera and musical experience behind him, Alfie has plenty of material to choose from for his much-anticipated tour.
"My live shows will be a little different each time and I've got a number of special guests.
"I'll be singing numbers from my first and second albums as well as some special surprises that people won't be expecting."