INTERVIEW BY Hilary Porter

THE pairing of two-time Olivier Award winner Michael Ball and the nation’s biggest-selling tenor Alfie Boe proved a match made in heaven when they recorded the Platinum selling album ‘Together’ last year and performed 29 sold out shows across the UK.

Now they are returning for a selection of exclusive dates including some of the UK’s most beautiful stately homes and castles this month, including Stanstead Park at Chichester on Wednesday June 21.

In winter, they’ll come back inside to play 10 arena dates, including a return to the BIC on Sunday December 3.

Alfie Boe took ten minutes to talk to the Echo about the new dates and his unique friendship with Michael Ball. Surprisingly, he said he is surprised by how well the tour and duets album (featuring Broadway hits and songs from the big screen) did.

He told me: "The tour started last July in New York when we recorded the album and if I said I'm not surprised by how well it's gone I'd be lying and be very arrogant. We've both been amazed as it was our intention to get together and just have some fun and weren't expecting too much of it. Inevitably we didn't know whether our voices would work on stage together and be compatible but we got in the studio and something just clicked and we found we have something special and unique . The tour sold out, the album went platinum and then double platinum and was the Christmas Number 2."

The two critically--acclaimed artists have received a plethora of prestigious awards, record-breaking sales and chart successes.

Over his extraordinary 30 year career, Michael's outstanding performances have made smash-hit box office history. He is a double Olivier Award winner, multi--platinum recording artist, top selling live concert performer and a hugely popular radio and TV presenter.

Alfie's exceptional voice has made him Britain's most popular and biggest-selling tenor. He has conquered the world’s greatest opera stages and arenas, led the cast of Les Misérables, stole the show at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace – as well achieving UK album sales of over a million, and four top ten albums

Given their highly successful individual careers Alfie agrees this joint venture was something of a gamble.

"It's very important to team up with the right person. You can't just do a collaboration with anyone- you must find a compatible performer and we get on very well as friends and as artists and we just enjoy it."

Enjoying the same sense of humour is clearly an advantage. "It helps!" laughs Alfie.

"It helps to get on and have a laugh and make fun of each other because life is too short."

The laughter, banter and mutual mickey-taking was very much part and parcel of the show's success last time and not what one would normally expect from an opera /cross over star. So did he think there is a tendency to take some of the music - opera in particular, a little too seriously?

"Yes I do. There are moments you have to knuckle down and get into the hard work and you do have to take things seriously but not so much it effects the show. There are people out there who are far too serious."

Alfie says we can expect a slightly different show to last year: "It will be the same tour with a couple of changes- minor alterations that will surprise people. It won't be exactly the same. Inevitably playing outdoors for the summer festivals brings something different out of you. I love the festivals; everything is very joyful and the audience capacity will be larger and there will be people who haven't seen the show before."

Ball and Boe have been friends since they performed in the English National Opera’s disastrous staging of Kismet at the London Coliseum 10 years ago. They were testing circumstances but at least they were the only two to be spared from the uniformly gruesome reviews.

Shortly afterwards the two forged their alliance when Michael headlined a Prom at the Albert Hall and Alfie joined him for the duet from The Pearl Fishers.

Given it was a shaky start did they get on straight away?

"We did pretty much. It was a great way to meet and we just got on. We were put under pressure with the production of Kismet to pull it off because the production team had abandoned it. So we and other members of the cast pulled together and we created this strong bond that has lasted until now. We respect each other and have followed each other's careers."

However, Alfie still smiles when he reveals how Michael ignored his request for help in his younger days.

Alfie recalls how, as a young music student at the Royal College of Music in London, he admired Michael who was an established star. He attempted to contact Ball, who is a dozen years his senior, with a view to getting guidance and possible mentorship.

He put a note through his door asking for advice as an aspiring performer and Michael, he says, just ignored it!

"I was living in this little lane in Barnes and he was living just round the corner and I thought I wonder if we could have a chat one day so I wrote a note on a postcard and put it under his door saying, “I’m a student, I really like your music and enjoy your performing. I’d love to get together to hear any advice you could give to me. Here’s my number.” I heard nothing back. He didn't have the time or was too damn lazy to reply. I've asked him about it since and he said it was because I wrote the note in crayon! ...Well I just threw his CDs away- well I had only bought one. The rest I used as ash trays!" laughs Alfie.

That is all now a distant memory as he looks forward to rejoining his good pal on stage.

"The show in itself is great and we have honed it down to what we are doing . The high spot for me is singing A Thousand Years - I love to sing that with Michael."

They are clearly great friends on stage - the chemistry and on stage banter is a major part of the show. But do they choose to hang out together once the curtain falls?

"Not if we can help it!" jokes Alfie, adding, "No, we do actually. He invited me to Sunday dinner once with his family and if we are not busy we grab a coffee and dinner."

Have they plans for future projects together?

"Absolutely!It seems to work and people seem to want it and as long as they do we will- we're really enjoying ourselves."

Tickets are on sale from and


The Daily Echo has two pairs of tickets to give away to the Stanstead Park show on June 21.

Simply answer the following question for a chance to win: Name the show that Michael Ball and Alfie Bow first performed in together.

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Entries to reach us by Monday June 19