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Friday, May 23, 2008
By ERIKO ARITA
Britain's Russell Watson, the "people's tenor," is coming back to Japan. Renowned for his golden voice, he will be accompanied by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and up-and-coming violinist Emiri Miyamoto.
Watson will perform selections from his latest album, "Outside In," released in Japan on Wednesday. The set list will include an updated version of "Nessun Dorma," which is dedicated to the late Luciano Pavarotti.
A rendition of a piece from the opera "Turandot" gave Watson his big break back in 1999. He was invited to sing a song at Old Trafford soccer stadium in Manchester, England, the home of soccer team Manchester United. His performance before the game, which saw the team clinch the Premiership, was received with a standing ovation.
That success propelled Watson, a factory worker from Salford who sang at local pubs, to stardom. Since releasing his debut album, "The Voice," in 2000, which included not only opera arias but also such familiar pop songs such as Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," the tenor became the first British male to simultaneously occupy the top of both the U.K. and U.S. classical music charts.
In autumn 2006, the multimillion-selling singer was diagnosed with a brain tumor while recording at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. He underwent surgery and has since worked hard to recover. Despite health setbacks, Watson released "That's Life" in March 2007 (it saw an August release in Japan).
Watson's new album, "Outside In," sees him tackling iconic repertoire with a newly invigorated love of life and a singing voice that is still maturing. The release includes "Amazing Grace," "Unforgettable," and "On the Street Where You Live" (from the musical "My Fair Lady").
In concert, Watson will feature some past favorites as well as renditions of such popular Italian arias as "Volare," "Funicli Funicla" and "Caruso." Watson has given performances in Japan every year since his first visit in 2004.
Russell Watson plays May 29 at Tokyo's NHK Hall. Tickets are ¥15,000, ¥12,000, and ¥8,000. Preschool children will not be admitted. The show starts at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:15 p.m.). NHK Hall is a 10-min. walk from JR Harajuku and Meijijingumae stations. For reservations, call Kyodo Tokyo at (03) 3498-9999.