Tenor trio returns to wow fans



Top classical singers reunite for a new tour after a decade.

In 2011, tenors Dai Yuqiang, Wei Song and Warren Mok formed a trio and became known as China's Three Tenors, the country's equivalent of the globally acclaimed trio that comprised of Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. In October that same year, they held their debut performance in Beijing and have since toured worldwide holding more than 120 shows.

The three tenors' new tour kicked off on May 2 and the trio will visit 24 cities including Shanghai, Zhuhai in Guangdong province, Ningbo in Zhejiang province, Zibo in Shandong province, and Changsha in Hunan province. The tour is supported by the Beijing Poly Theater Management, which operates several theaters nationwide.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the tenors' upcoming tour will feature popular Chinese songs such as I Love You China, Sing a Song for the Party, In That Remote Place and Swan Geese. They will also perform folk songs of the Inner Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions.

Zhang Shurong, director of the China's Three Tenors tour, says it has been 10 years since they last performed together as a trio.

They represent the best of China's classically trained singers, Zhang says.

Zhang was one of the organizers for their first concert in 2011 in Beijing. He recalls the three Chinese tenors getting together just as the country's classical music scene was gaining a fan base. It was also reminiscent of the phenomenal performance staged by the Three Tenors at the Forbidden City in Beijing, which saw Carreras, Pavarotti and Domingo use their voices to support Beijing's bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games on June 24,2001.

At that time, Chinese symphony orchestras, original classical music works and Chinese operas were emerging in the country. The popularity of the shows by the three Chinese tenors proved that classical music, which is considered to be an elite art form, appeals to the general public, Zhang says.

Wei, who has performed major roles in operas such as Turandot, La Traviata, Carmen, and Madama Butterfly, says that they have chosen to perform classic works for the tour.

Those songs are very beautiful and have catchy melodies, which will be easy on the ears of the audience, says the 67-year-old Wei.

Recalling their collaboration over the past 10 years, the three Chinese tenors named some memorable moments. One of the highlights was their performance at Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebration in November 2012 at the royal family's invitation. They received a royal audience with the queen and the performance was viewed by hundreds of millions of TV viewers around the world.

On the eve of the Lunar New Year in 2012, the three Chinese tenors kicked off their international tour at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. That year, they performed in London, Los Angeles, Sydney and Cologne. In July 2012, they performed alongside the United Kingdom's Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in a concert entitled Best Wishes from Beijing-China's Three Tenors London Concert.

Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras are our idols. They have made the bel canto easier for the audience to appreciate, says the 63-year-old Mok. Born in Beijing and moved to Hong Kong with his family at the age of 6, Mok has a master's degree in music from the Manhattan School of Music. He has worked with many international opera companies and played major roles in opera productions including Turandot, Carmen and Aida.

When we perform abroad, we want to make Chinese culture, especially Chinese folk songs, more accessible through our performance in a way that is familiar to the global audience, Mok adds.

In September, the three Chinese tenors gave their first concert of 2020 in Tianjin as the COVID-19 pandemic was under control, forcing some of their shows to be canceled. The concert was held outdoors and it opened with a popular Chinese song titled Toast Song. Organizers splashed some baijiu, or Chinese white liquor, on the floor nearby the stage before the song began.

The design received warm feedback from the audience. They listened to Toast Song while smelling the lingering fragrance of baijiu, recalls Zhang, director of the Tianjin concert.

Dai, the third tenor, says the three of them are focused on producing the best sounds during performances. He was the first and only Chinese student of Pavarotti, and has played major roles in operas such as Turandot, La Traviata, Carmen and La Boheme.

We have different personalities but when we perform together onstage, we support each other and try to reach a perfect sound with our voices, says 58-year-old Dai. We are happy to see that our concerts not only attract academically trained students and classical music lovers, but also people who may not be familiar with classical music.