PORT HARDY—Despite soprano Leah Alfred’s claim that she sings only sad songs, she brought plenty of warmth and laughter to the North Island last weekend.
Alfred, accompanied by baritone Aaron Durand and pianist David Bergeron, returned to the Port Hardy Civic Centre Saturday night and Alert Bay Sunday afternoon for her Our Favourite Things tour.
Alfred, who originally hails from Alert Bay, made her professional opera debut with the Vancouver Opera in a production of The Magic Flute last year, and this year graduated with her Master’s degree in vocal performance at UVic.
Our Favourite Things has her teaming up with Durand, a close friend from the Victoria Conservatory of Music, in an effort to combine all their favourite songs in one performance.
“These are all the pieces that we’ve held near and dear to our hearts,” Durand said Saturday. “They’re the little songs that we carry with us each and every day.”
The smiles and on-stage chemistry during Saturday’s concert made it clear that Alfred and Durand are old friends. The first half was made up of a number of Mozart pieces, and after intermission both singers took turns making their way through a series of musical numbers and operatic arias. Before a melancholic solo from The Bartered Bride, Alfred joked that, “everything I sing is sad.”
But Alfred’s more somber numbers were balanced easily by fun and energetic pieces, including a duet from Mozart’s The Magic Flute that had both singers leaping across the stage.
Durand then had a chance to show off his charismatic stage presence in a rendition of “I am Aldolpho,” a song from the musical The Drowsy Chaperone, which allowed Durand to unleash what he called his “inner flamboyant Spaniard.” Durand at one point leapt into the crowd to bestow a kiss upon the hand of one audience member, and finished his piece with the audience chanting the name, “Aldolpho!”
Alfred and Durand closed the show with the first duet they ever sang together, a heartwarming rendition of “Wheels of a Dream” from the musical Ragtime.
“Coming home is a fantastic experience,” Alfred said after the show. “Nobody is as supportive as your home town. It’s the best audience in the world.”
She described how the North Island music scene fostered her as an artist and took note of the younger audience members—something that she found optimistic.
“If there’s even the slightest chance I could influence somebody to look into classical music, that would be the most amazing thing.”
Alfred was impressed by the amount of support she had received since returning, although she stressed that the size of the crowd wasn’t important. “We’re just having so much fun!”