Testimonials and Reviews
Matt Cooper Today FM
“When I was growing up, the old hands were so supportive, telling me how to go about achieving my dreams. When I come back, I can still see that same marvellous self-help ethic here. When there isn’t funding, they just get on and make it happen. That’s missing in a lot of cities, so I was very lucky from the beginning. At the Royal Academy in London the other students couldn’t believe that I had all those chances.”
Wolfe now has more than three decades under his belt as a professional opera singer, performing just about everywhere, from Beijing to New York, Marseille to Melbourne. By 2008 he had a crammed diary, released two albums, received countless awards, and counted among his highlights a $15,000-a- ticket solo concert for the Mission of San Juan Capistrano in California.
Then came the 2008 financial crash. In just 24 hours Wolfe lost two years of future bookings. They breed ‘em tough in Cork, though. Having the vision to see the importance of social media, he used his comprehensive IT skills to pursue smaller, private party bookings, and developed a number of one-man shows.
“I’ve always been interested in technology but the fact that you could upload a video to YouTube as an audition and then put an ad on Gumtree saying see it, and I’m available, made it the only way to go. By early 2010 not only was his diary full again, but he was also booking other artists. Singers for Hire now engages 20 professional performers between Ireland and the UK (make that 40 when you include his Sydney franchise, set up in 2013).
In June 2015 he hit on the idea of giving a free open-air concert in a farmyard at Pallasgreen, Co Limerick, ostensibly for a milking herd of Friesians and Aberdeen Angus (although human listeners turned up in large numbers, oddly enough).
“The idea was to see if music could really boost milk output. It’s been done in other countries, so why not here?”
The inspired idea garnered much media attention. For the aptly-named Farmyard Proms Wolfe brought in two other tenors, Derek Ryan and Ryan Morgan, and they were such a hit that a group was born. They haven’t stopped since. But the cows?
“Oh they loved it. Several have joined our fan club!”
Ryan and Morgan are both also well established in their field, so how does it work, three individual tenors touring as a unit? Are there rows behind the scenes?
“It’s like three brothers — we love, hate, drive each other mad! We’re very different personalities and we won’t always agree. The way we see it, though, no matter what, an audience is going to love one of us and the songs we’ve chosen.”
They do operatic arias, Broadway hits, enduring classics, all with the aim of giving a night of happy memories. And they’re wonderfully funny onstage too, the comedy spooling entirely naturally from their evident level of relaxation with each other.
So where did the name come from?
“Well, I’m just 5’6”. When I found I was getting roles because I would not only sing them well, but would look funny into the bargain, I realised that this was actually a plus and when we three decided to work together (Derek is 6’4”, and Ryan 6’7) that’s how Two and a Half Tenors, came about. Audiences realise immediately that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and they can relax.”
After years of touring the world individually, the Two and a Half Tenors – Nyle Wolfe, Ryan Morgan and Derek Ryan – chose an interesting venue to debut their new group.
Inspired by tales of classical music being played to Kobe cattle in Japan, their first performance was staged in front of Friesian cows in Pallasgreen, Co Limerick, last summer. Some 400 people also attended the open-air concert.
Though Nyle admits it was a “madcap idea”, they received good reviews from the crowd – and indeed, their bovine fans. “The quality of the milk for the next three months was definitely superior,” says Nyle. “We’ve had the local farmers begging us to do a concert in August.”
In case you haven’t already guessed, the Two and a Half Tenors aren’t like other classical music groups. According to baritone Nyle, their aim is to make classical music accessible for people of all ages – and have some fun along the way.
“Although we’re serious singers, we’re not serious performers. It’s fun and up-tempo – we’re not up ourselves. We’re just there to deliver fun and facilitate the audience’s enjoyment,” says Nyle. “We didn’t just want to be another three-tenor group when we got together. The name suggested that more than anything else.”
The name comes from the obvious height difference – Derek is 6’4”, Ryan stands at 6’7”, while Nyle (the “half”) is 5’6”. The men are joined by Jean Wallace, the group’s “devastating diva” soprano.
“When you put us all together it’s hilarious before you even tell a joke or sing a note. We just look daft. We can’t stand in a straight line – it’s always a triangular shape,” he adds.
Nyle’s debut came at the age of six, after answering a “sing and get paid for it” advert in the then-Cork Examiner.
This led to his professional debut in Cork’s Opera House and a job as a “Bluecoat” in Trabolgan.
A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and the Opera Studio in Zurich, Nyle was soloist at the Musiktheater im Revier, Germany, for six years before deciding to move home to Ireland with his wife Riah and their children.
“You have to make a choice: career or family. You can have both, but it means you won’t see your family because if you want to work in classical music you’ve got to accept you’ll be away. The touring is hard. You could be going away for 16 weeks at time, at least,” he says.
“Moving back to Ireland, I knew the opportunities were few and far between, especially the older you get. Even if all the Irish companies employed you all the time, you couldn’t be busy enough.
“Diversifying is the obvious thing, making your own opportunities.”
Derek and Ryan found themselves in the same predicament. Having known each other for years professionally and as friends, the men decided to form the group.
“There aren’t a huge number of groups doing what we do. Because of the lack of opportunities, people have moved away from Ireland to tour. We hope to build our own niche audience,” explains Nyle.
“Derek manages to always look like he’s not interested, but he is a powerhouse of sound. Ryan is the hugely intelligent, analytical one and I’m the joker in the middle. Jean is the boss, ruling the roost,” he adds.
Since the “Farmer Proms” in Pallasgreen, business has been booming. “Everywhere we’ve gone, the level of interest has been quite astounding. We were in the National Concert Hall in January … we didn’t maybe put in the time or publicity that we should have done, but the place was packed to the rafters,” he says.
According to Nyle, the show includes everything from Pavarotti to Elvis, all delivered with humour. “There was a huge divide before in the classical music industry: you were either a classic musician or a pop singer. Those boundaries have broken down over the past 25 or 30 years,” he says.
“I never thought as an opera singer starting out 25 years ago that I would be singing Sweet Caroline, but that’s there. Another song I never thought would be there is Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python, but that’s in the show too.
“The hardest thing is whittling everything down to an evening’s entertainment instead of a week.”
Two and a Half Tenors will be appearing at The Everyman, MacCurtain Street, Cork, on 24 July. Tickets cost €25. Visit www.everymancork.com or call 021 450 1673. Visit www.twoandahalftenors.ie for more.
The Two and a Half Tenors Nyle Wolfe, Derek Ryan and Ryan Morgan played here at the Simon Ryan Theatre Tipperary Excel on Sunday April 3rd 2016 to a most appreciative audience.
This trio of talented singers entertained the audience with renditions of popular numbers from a number of shows.
They were at all times professional and entertaining, adding humour and pathos to their performance and leaving their audience ‘wanting more’.
The Tenors have a huge repertoire of music and such diverse musical talent at their fingertips that they can perform - opera, Swing, Broadway and more.... Songs such as ‘My Way’ to ’ O Sole Mio’ ‘Sweet Caroline ‘and everything else in between were performed by this talented trio with charm and aplomb !
For a fabulous and entertaining night out we can but recommend you book them at a Venue near you!
The Tipperary Excel Arts & Culture Team!
‘THE Two and a Half Tenors – Ireland’s funniest opera super group!’ is promise to a night of classics and Broadway melody in Kilmallock on Thursday January 21. The tenors’ title is to do with their height differential: Ryan Morgan at 6’7, Derek Ryan 6’6 and in contrast, Nyle Wolfe at 5’6.
Yet their harmonies are wonderfully harmonious and each singer is a trained, experienced professional. The comedy act comes easily at this level of comfort with each other.
“Twice the fun with Two and a Half Tenors”
Pat McEvoy, Arts Correspondent, Waterford News and Star
Classy singing, mixed with a dollop of fun, warmed a cold February night at the Royal. This is a slick and professional night out with three top class singers and guest diva Jean Wallace from Limerick. The tongue-in-cheek title of the trio, Two and a Half Tenors, comes from the little and large nature of the three singers. Tenor Ryan Morgan is a line-out’s delight at 6’7”, bass Derek Ryan is a prop forward large 6’2”, while poor old baritone Nyle Wolfe is a diminishing 5’6”. Still an out half I suppose. The title indicates the fun and entertainment the trio magics up all night.
Everyone on stage is a superb singer, blends effortlessly and the programme is an eclectic delight with a song for everyone in the audience. “O Sole Mio” is a big opening with tight harmonies and show-off solos before a Dino “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” has the house humming along. The trio really work the house with big gestures, interesting facials and musical gags that sucks their audience in.
Derek Ryan delivers a big “Anthem” from Chess, with a dramatic finish that is full of passion and patriotism and panache. Nyle Wolfe wanders around the house with a simple and clever “Tit Willow” that invites lines and chorus from the audience. It’s simple tune that is full of wistful nostalgia and fun and Nyle really nails it. Derek Ryan’s “Music of the Night” is powerfully set and lit by Dermot Quinn against that magnificent back wall of the theatre that is one of the old walls of the city. The postern door of the wall is a reminder of medieval times, of who we are and the rich heritage we share as Waterford people.
These guys are big on musicals. The Brecht/Kurt Weill black-humoured “Mack the Knife” is a swingy-bluesy ballad that kicks off “There is Nothing Like a Dame”, that bounces off the boards. Soprano Jean Wallace has an entrance to die for with thunder and lightning sound effects that backdrops her Magic Flute aria. Jean’s soprano is big and melodic and this singer is naturally musical and an excellent foil for the two and a half boyos. Her “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel is a powerful reminder of the great musical tradition of the Urbs Intacta.
There’s always space for the “Fields of Athenry” that brings a sense of stillness to a programme. It’s a reminder of famine times when we lost two million people from this small island to starvation and emigration. It’s Syria really, with economic and institutional violence instead of what today is a civil war.
The second half kicks on with a series of big hits from the musicals, The Impossible Dream…Some Enchanted Evening…Maria….If I Were a Rich Man…I Could Have Danced All Night…Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better. Jean Wallace sings Musetta’s aria from La Bohème and it’s a tearful joy before the boys don the Blues Brothers shades for “Hi de Hi de Hi de Hi”, with the audience roaring back the chorus. Blues Brothers Jake and Elwood would have been thrilled.
On it went with the 2.5 singers working their audience. Everyone seems to know the words of “That’s Amore” before “Sweet Caroline” had us all doing the hands thing. A “Merry Widow Waltz” romanced the Royal before the boys exited through the house on “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” and then shook hands with everyone at the reception.
Multiply 2.5 tenors by 14.7 and you have a good idea of the talent and entertainment on offer at the Royal on Thursday last.
Thank you so much for yesterday, it was a triumph. everyone thoroughly enjoyed the singing & the whole experience we are still on a high today.
From the moment you started, the room changed from a typical company night out to the event we had told everyone to expect – brilliant! We do hope we get to see you perform again.
Thanks again for your performance . You certainly broke the ice and made the crowd laugh and go mad... you certainly came across very, very well and we would hope to use you again at another big function.
Even the staff at the hotel were asking all about you guys and said how they had never had such entertainment there before for an event. Couldn't recommend you enough, and you were a pleasure to deal with.