Monday, May 20, 2019
Emmett O’Hanlon Should’ve Just Sang ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’
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Monday, February 25, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

You might have thought Elvis was in the house.

And he was—at least, in the sneer, the satirical gyrations and the pouty mood of Emmett O’Hanlon.

And women in their 60s swooned.

Sun Valley Opera went looking for the next big thing, after playing a trump card with Alfie Boe just as he was hitting the big time, as the opera’s co-founder Frank Meyer tells it.

“We had an Englishman named Alfie Boe who sang in Sun Valley Resort’s Limelight Room and someone asked me when we would meet that concert,” he said. “I replied we’d meet that show when our budget allowed us. Now, eight years later, we meet that show.”

Indeed O’Hanlon—28 years old and fresh scrubbed—quickly endeared himself to the audience at the Argyros Performing Arts Center with his quick grin and fun-loving enthusiasm that nearly bordered on giggling.

And the power of his high-baritone voice quickly roped in opera fans as he sang “The impossible Dream” in a manner that somehow seemed older than his years.

“I’ve never been to this area of the country,” the New York-born son of Irish immigrants told the audience. “And it doesn’t look real when you’re walking around.”

O’Hanlon toured with Celtic Thunder, a popular Irish group, before going out on his own. And going solo has allowed him the chance to sing Broadway hits he loved as a youngster, such as “My Funny Valentine” and “Maria,” as well as pop hits like “For Once in My Life” and an opera-worthy version of The Righteous Brothers “Unchained Melody.”

And he had the acting ability to pull off a tongue-twisting opera aria, besides.

Of course, O’Hanlon couldn’t get away without an Irish number and for that he chose “You Lift Me up,” which may well be sang more often than “Danny Boy” these days.

Extremely complimentary of his piano accompanist Sean Rogers, the conductor for the Treasure Valley Symphony, O’Hanlon tested Rogers on a jazzed-up version of “Mack the Knife” to see just how fast Rogers could play.

Lots of laughs. Lots of claps. Lots of enthusiasm.

He had audience members clapping as if they were at a revival meeting with his version of Elvis’ “American Trilogy.”

And, being a New Yorker, he had to sing Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” as a point of pride, leaving some members of the audience ready to kick up their heels like the Rockettes by the end.

“That’s the only song I can’t sing in New York because all my friends go, ‘Aw, c’mon,’” he said.

It was easily one of the most entertaining feel-good programs just asking audience members to sit back, relax and enjoy that has come across local stages in a long time.

“Isn’t he amazing?—and such a wonderful choice of songs,” enthused Carolyn Wicklund.

“I’m amazed how he can go from opera to Elvis to all these other types of song,” said Bonnie Hovencamp.

COMING ATTRACTION:

Next up for Sun Valley Opera is a Signature Salon Concert starring Mezzo-Soprano Emily Fons.

She will sing a mix of opera favorites from Mozart’s “Le Nozze Di Figaro,” along with Gershwin’s “Love Walked In,” Lerner and Loewe’s “Waitin’ for my Dearie” from “Brigadoon,” “Peter, Peter” from Bernstein’s “Peter Pan” and more.

The concert will be held at 7 p.m. March 12 in a private home. Wine and appetizers will be served.

For tickets, call 208-726-0991 or visit www.SunValleyOpera.com.

 

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