Several months ago I wrote a short piece about Paul Potts, Opera’s Cinderfeller, for Blogcritics. I’ve written a few Blogcritics articles and essays this past year, but none of them have had the staying power the one about Paul Potts has had.
It took awhile for me to finally realize the much anticipated debut album by Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts had finally made its way across the pond. Not content to wait for a few days for it to reach me in the wilds of New Mexico, I checked to see if it was available for download on i-Tunes. Success!
My first thought, would I be disappointed? Would the Cinderfeller story continue? Was the fairy tale Welsh tenor a one song wonder? Could he handle an orchestra? Perhaps it is fate that I downloaded his album a few days after the great Luciano Pavarotti’s death. There will never be another Pavarotti, just as there has never been another Caruso, but opera is a funny thing. It never fails to provide just the right artist for the age.
Perhaps Paul Potts is that artist for today. He is failure, hope, futility, perseverance, and victory personified. He is every dream that ever came true. We are living in a strange world today, one where we don’t know what the future is going to bring. Is that the secret of the Paul Potts story? He just could be the right person at the right place at the right time.
My second thought? I noticed the album had a little of everything, Broadway, opera, pop, even "Silent Night". This puzzled me for a moment, then I realized this is a true representation of Paul Potts. It is as though he was going to throw everything, including the kitchen sink into the album – just in case it would be his only album. I truly hope and pray it is not – for my sake if not his! Then I learned he was performing some of his favorites, including "Cavatina," which he dedicated to his wife.
I don’t mind admitting I am disappointed with this album. I believe I’ve mentioned I am an opera freak. I wanted more “hard core” opera on it! Other than that, I am so pleased with it. That said, this is the perfect debut album. It has a little bit of everything including "Silent Night and O Holy Night," some Broadway, a little Neapolitan, and what is fated to become his trademark "Nessun Dorma." For an opera singer, a debut album should be a sampler of the ‘talent’. Paul Potts, One Chance is just that. By the time I was half-way through I realized this man could sing Wagner!
Opera fans are funny creatures. We like to compare performances the way baseball fans (which many of us are for some strange reason) compare pitching or hitting stats. The best way to judge a voice is to compare it to other performances. For me, Potts does this with "Amapola," and "Con Te Parliro" and his trademark "Nessun Dorma." During the past couple of decades all three songs have been recorded by two of the greatest tenors ever, the late, great Luciano Pavarotti and my personal favorite Placido Domingo. They have also been recorded by every other great tenor from Caruso to Richard Tucker. Paul Potts can hold his own with the ‘gods’ of the High C’s!
I am not an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan. When I noticed "Music of the Night" was on the album I inwardly groaned. A few notes into it and I was in tears. I don’t mind admitting most of the album on the first listen brought me to tears. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the story, maybe it was the artist. Is it possible part of Potts’ appeal is the emotion and back-story behind the music? Would I be brought to tears if I did not know it was Potts?
The secret of a great musician is his or her passion. To have great passion one must have the ups and downs of life, especially the heart-ache. That passion, that depth that only heart-break and pain brings to a performer is there in Paul Potts’ voice. Perhaps it is the mark of greatness. In Paul Potts’ voice you hear those years of heart-break, of hopes dashed, and of dreams that might never be realized. You see a man who isn’t quite sure if anything good is going to come out of those hopes and dreams. You see every person who has ever nurtured a dream and failed. Paul Potts’ success is our success. His dreams are our dreams. His amazing victory was our victory! And there-in lies the passion to color a remarkable voice.
I cheer when Potts nails the high notes. He has two spectacular ones in this album in "O Holy Night" and "Con Te Partiro " and they are magnificent! Opera fanatics thrill to the “High C’s” and he has ‘em. But, he also has Placido Domingo’s lower register. The man has his own unique voice.
Paul Potts is a true Heldentenor. I don’t care about the fluff, I want the ‘hard stuff’. I want to hear him do some Tannhauser, Siegfried, or Parsifal. He has that kind of a voice. Only the greats have the voice that can handle the grand Italian Spinto and Dramatic Tenor roles and do the Heldentenor thing. Pavarotti could not. Only Placido Domingo comes to mind. It is entirely possible Paul Potts is going to end up in that league.
My personal favorite track of the album is "Caruso." It has everything and is the perfect showpiece for his voice.
Amazon has Potts’ recording "Nessun Dorma." Before you tune into it, grab a tissue. You are going to need it, once again.
The US version of the album adds the two Christmas songs as ‘bonus’ tracks. Does this mean there is a Paul Potts Christmas Album in our very near future. The consummate Scrooge, I’ll even listen to it!