When Paul Moore sauntered on stage and continued to the floor below it at Trinity United Church Thursday evening, with volumes of manuscript spilling from one arm and a giant water bottle from the other, we wondered what form of recital we were in for.
As he clumsily adjusted his music and took a swig from his bottle, he explained that such adjustments and swigging, along with spitting, slurping and similar unsavoury aspects of a singer’s performance, were generally performed backstage, out of sight of the audience, and that we were privileged to witness them first hand.
He casually introduced his very fine accompanist, Sandra Fletcher, along with front-of-house as well as backstage manager/lighting technician Liza Judd, and continued to ramble, smile and giggle.
His haphazard approach might have irritated some who prefer a more theatrical presentation, with economy and finesse, but most of Thursday’s audience smiled and giggled along with him.
Then, when he opened his mouth to sing he had them in the palm of his hand. Now in his self-confessed 40s, Moore still has the powerful voice and fine physique of one 10 years his junior.
His unrehearsed style of banter between songs sometimes stretched a tad too far, but when he sang he was focused, still and straight-backed, entirely committed to the great music he produces.
The parlour style recital opened with a tribute to Moore’s late Nana and perhaps his own youth, Salley Gardens, written by William Butler Yeats in 1889 and set to music by Benjamin Britten in 1943.
His rendition of Albert Hay Mallotte’s arrangement of The Lord’s Prayer was, in his own words, “a real barn burner.” And his invitation to the audience to join him during his medley of Neapolitan songs was enthusiastically accepted, particularly when he sang Santa Lucia to his accompanist who responded with good humoured smiles as she gazed back at him while still managing to find all the right chords.
The show ended with the famous aria Vesti la Giubba (Put on the Costume) from Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (Clowns), where Canio breaks down as he applies his clown make-up before facing his audience and his wife’s lover. Moore may have lacked the superb breath control of his hero Luciano Pavarotti, but only the most critical would have found fault.
Acknowledging his well-deserved applause afterwards, he mentioned the choir he is forming, open to all voices, male and female. Rehearsals start in September at the Essentialist Church of Christ on 45th Avenue. Details will be announced in this newspaper.
Meanwhile, let’s hope for more of Paul Moore on stage, or floor. Perhaps next time he’ll doff his white tie and tails in favour of something less formal to match his engaging, easy style.
Christine Pilgrim is a performer based in Vernon, B.C. who regularly contributes concert reviews to The Morning Star.