Opera that rocks

The Ten Tenors' classical crossover concerts are anything but stuffy
The Ten Tenors are accompanied by a band and orchestrated tracks and, at some venues, a full orchestra.Photo courtesy of Craterian Performances

The Ten Tenors, a dectet of Australian blokes, all about 20- or 30-something years old, sounds like a show for the ladies. But men, although you may go kicking and screaming, chances are you'll enjoy the music just as much as your female companions.

"We get a lot of women dragging their husbands along," says Chad Hilligus, the only American in the group, during a telephone interview from Palm Coast, Fla. "You can always tell (who) those men (are) in the audience. I don't think they know what to expect, but by the end of the show, they are pleasantly surprised."

If you go

Who: The Ten Tenors

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16

Where: The Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford

Tickets: $34 to $40, $24 to $30 for ages 18 and younger

Call: 541-779-3000

The Tenors' 90-city and nearly five-month Double Platinum World Tour will include two weeks in the states. They'll perform 24 favorites at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.

Lauded for its musicianship and showmanship, The Ten Tenors rocks as well as serenades. Its members hail from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia, and New York, where Hilligus is from.

The ensemble began as 10 university friends, all students at Queensland Conservatorium of Music at Griffith University in Brisbane, in want of some extra beer money. The original members have since been replaced by new tenor voices, but the level of musicianship has not faltered.

"Everybody comes from a different background," Hilligus says. "There are people who come from musical theater, people who come from the opera world and people who are rock-pop singers, so everyone adds their own nuances, and the fact that we go back and forth between genres gives everyone a chance to be showcased."

Since its conception in the mid-'90s, The Ten Tenors has garnered international acclaim within the classical crossover genre, performing about 250 shows a year over seven continents and boasting four gold and two platinum CDs.

"It's the tenor voice," Hilligus says. "People are really fascinated with the tenor voice. That can be people throughout history, like (Luciano) Pavarotti and now Andrea Bocelli, (who) has reinvented the classical crossover — opera for the masses, if you will. But you have to remember that Queen, Freddie Mercury, Sting, Bon Jovi and all these great rockers are also tenors.

"There's something about the male voice singing that high that gets people out of their seats, and when you put 10 of those voices together, it's a pretty powerful thing."

The group's 2011 album, "Double Platinum," was rereleased in January on iTunes with five new songs, including "Somebody to Love" by Queen and "Close to You" by The Carpenters.

"It's a two-disc set," Hilligus says. "One disc is more of a classical genre with operatic arias and songs made famous by singers like Andrea Bocelli, and the other disc is more rock, pop and musical theater. We do a range from Queen, Meat Loaf, The Beatles, and this year, we've added Michael Jackson and Elton John to the repertoire."

Hilligus explains that the title pays homage to the Tenors' previous platinum albums, featuring "a collection of stuff from over the years that we've been proud of and some new stuff."

Tickets cost $34, $37 and $40; or $24, $27 and $30 for ages 18 and younger. Tickets may be purchased at the Craterian box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., Medford, and www.craterian.org or by calling 541-779-3000.

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