It's getting more and more difficult to write a review of an Anthony Kearns solo concert. After all, how many times can you use the words beautiful, magnificent, breathtaking, gorgeous, huge, to describe his voice? And everyone who has followed his career since 1999, knows that his voice has gotten much bigger, and even more lush, as he's gotten older, and that he's making great strides in the opera world, with his recent performances with Opera Ireland, Glasthule Opera, Lismore Opera, Emerald City Opera, and Opera Naples.
And the opportunity to hear that "beautiful, magnificent, breathtaking, gorgeous, etc., etc., etc.," voice, twice in a day and a half.......in my own backyard, as it were, was just too great an opportunity to miss.
The concerts were almost identical .The first, on Saturday night in Wilton, CT, was part of The Wexford Tour, which promotes autism awareness, and which Anthony has presented on both sides of the pond, was a wonderful evening. Sheila Cassidy, head of The Wexford Organization, has succumbed to the Kearns voice, and the Kearns charisma, like the rest of us, and together, she and Anthony have presented several terrific events which not only raised autism awareness, but raised many needed dollars for autism research. AND.....gained Anthony Kearns and Patrick Healy many new fans. Some of the highights of the evening were the exquisitely beautiful and simple "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," from Les Miz, Red is the Rose, None But the Lonely Heart (Anthony's voice has a special affinity for the melancholy beauty of Tchaikovsky's music), and of course.....Grace. Others have tried to sing it, but to quote Carly Simon....."nobody does it better." He doesn't sing it all that often, but when he does, it's very welcome. There was a solo version of I Know My Love, with its tricky beat. Years ago, The Irish Tenors programmed it on a couple of concerts, but it wasn't all that successful, and they took it out. I like the way Anthony sings this, but it would have been great with the 3 men, if it had worked out.
The Wilton High School Men's Chorus sang 3 songs, each with a different soloist, and they're a very talented group of singers.
The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, fondly known as "The Kate," by Nutmeggers, because of one of Connecticut's most famous residents, is a perfect jewel of a theatre, with a mini "Hepburn Museum," on the first floor, including one of her Academy Awards. Small (also known as "intimate"), the accoustics are wonderful. And normally, it would be a perfect venue for Anthony and Patrick. But, whether it was due to VERY little publicity, or some other snafu, the audience was very small. Anthony and Patrick each made a comment on the size of the audience. THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN! A voice such as Anthony Kearns', accompanied by Patrick Healy, should be having to turn people away! Scuttlebut has it that the men will return in 2013, and the promoter has promised a full house. Let's hope so.
As I said, the songlist was identical to the previous night's. There was a new duet, which I believe is called I Hear the Angels Singing. It was really beautiful. I will find out more about it. Anthony also sang a solo version of Are Ye Right There, Michael, and he and Patrick added sound effects, making it a charming piece. There are a few pieces which make their way into every concert, and stick around, because they are exquisitely sung. One of them is the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria. Another is the brilliant duet penned by the redoubtable Mr Healy himself, Friendship. It's a classic, and despite the snipes and jabs at one another, the real friendship between Anthony and Patrick shines through like a beacon.
And speaking of Patrick Healy, he continues to delight audiences all over the globe. Wherever he appears, he makes new friends, because he is the compleat accompanist, who still tickles those ivories mightily, a brilliant composer, whose songs penned for Anthony, and duets for both of them are musical works of art, a great and hilarious raconteur, whose anecdotes about Winston Churchill and Talullah Bankhead, true (so he says) reminiscences of his life so far, have his audiences rolling in the aisles, and one of the world's foremost authorities on Gilbert & Sullivan. But probably the main reason he makes so many new friends, is the fact that he's one of the loveliest people one could ever know. I'm thinking of calling him "Sara Lee." If you're old enough to remember the commercial....."nobody doesn't like Sara Lee...." the same could be said of Patrick Healy.
The dynamic duo ended the concert with a beautiful and heartwarming "Danny Boy," and a Noel Coward gem which is becoming a signature piece for Anthony Kearns......"I'll See You Again." And the final words of the song are quite fitting for a concert as magnificently sung as this one:
"Though the world may go awry,
In my heart will ever lie,
Just the echo of a sigh.....
ANTHONY KEARNS WEEKEND
David Clune Performing Arts Center
Wilton, CT - March 24, 2012
Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (The Kate)
Old Saybrook, CT - March 25, 2012