Weehawken audiences have been treated to performances from recording legends like Shirley Reeves Alston and the Duprees to New Orleans-based zydeco bands to up-and-coming rock bands like Antigone Rising and the Duhks.
Now, come Wednesday, there will be something new offered to the concertgoers on the waterfront - a taste of the tenor phenomenon.
Capitalizing on the rising popularity of the operatic tenor concept spearheaded by the performances of legends like Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo a decade ago, the HRPAC will present its own version of a "Four Tenors" concert, featuring some of the most powerful voices in contemporary opera today.
The free concert will be held Wednesday night in Lincoln Harbor Park, beginning at 7 p.m. It will be the first classical concert that HRPAC has presented during the summer months.
"I wanted to try something different," said Bruce Sherman, the executive director of the HRPAC. "Classical music is a staple for many summer festivals. The fact is that the music we've presented for Summer Concerts on the Hudson has always been very eclectic. This just adds to the variety. And I know from experience that it will be tremendously popular. There's something about the tenor voice that really moves people."
Has worked before
Sherman, who worked for an opera management firm in the 1990s, has put on two other Four Tenors concerts as fundraisers.
The most recent was in 2003, when Four Tenors performed a benefit for HRPAC in the UBS Atrium.
"Only a few hundred people heard that concert because that was all the Atrium could hold," Sherman said. "I hope many more will take advantage of the opportunity to hear these great singers this coming Wednesday."
The Four Tenors who will perform Wednesday all come from different backgrounds, but they have something in common, having attended the Academy of Vocal Arts together in Philadelphia.
Richard Troxell is perhaps the most accomplished of the four, having already starred in the critically acclaimed motion picture, "Madame Butterfly," and having appeared on National Public Radio's extremely popular "A Prairie Home Companion" show. That show, starring Garrison Keilor, was turned into a movie directed by the late Robert Altman.
Although most of his work as an opera singer has been solo, Troxell likes the "Four Tenor" concept tremendously.
"It's really exciting," Troxell said. "There's a little bit of competition that goes on between us. I love it. It's healthy competition. As tenors, we battle and it's our competition. We all know of each other and we all came from the same school. The tenor phenomenon, if you want to call it that, has attracted a wide variety of people, both old and young, to concerts like this. But singers like [Andrea] Bocelli and [Josh] Groban have become widely popular because people just like hearing good singing."
Added Troxell, "Because of concerts like this, people are finding out that opera is more than just a heavyset lady singing with a spear in her hand."
Costello, who is the youngest of the contingent, will make his Metropolitan Opera debut in the fall. While most of Costello's work is also generally on his own, he's enthused to have the chance to perform with the other three great voices.
"It's great that I can be on the stage with them, since we all studied at the same school and with the same coach [David Lipton, who will be Wednesday's music director]," Costello said. "It's just great to be able to do something like this in great spirit. I don't think we'll be out there trying to make the other guy look bad, but there are certain pieces that make you want to take it up a step to go higher than the other guy. It's really a lot of fun."
Costello said that part of the entertainment value comes from the improvisation from each tenor.
"You never know what the other guy is going to do next," Costello said.
The other two tenors are also highly accomplished. Bryan Hymel has performed with the New Orleans Opera and has won several prizes at international competitions. He will make his European debut shortly at the Wexford Festival.
Dongwon Shin, a native of Seoul, Korea, has traveled the globe in his operatic career, including Weehawken. He was one of the original Four Tenors who performed in the HRPAC benefit four years ago.
Neither of the tenors interviewed minded that Wednesday's concert will be outdoors.
"I think everyone lightens up a little outdoors," Troxell said. "I'm really looking forward to this one, because of the great backdrop [the Manhattan skyline]. It's going to be a great show."
The Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center's production of "The Four Tenors" will be held Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Harbor Park in Weehawken. Admission to the concert is free. Seats are limited, so concertgoers are asked to bring blankets or lawn chairs. In case of inclement weather, please call the HRPAC's hotline at (201) 716-4540 or visit the website at www.hrpac.org.
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org