Ummm… you rent it. And that is precisely what Canadian tenor Ken Lavigne did on 22nd January. Lavigne is from Vancouver Island on the West Coast of Canada. Victoria, the island’s largest city, has metropolitan population of roughly 330,000 people and is the hub of musical life on the island.
Although he is not fan of the label (who is, these days), it is not unfair to describe Lavigne’s music as classical crossover a la Josh Groban or Andrea Bocelli.
It’s rather futile to try and assess a voice after hearing only short bits selected by the singer, but it is fair to say that while a bit rough round the edges, Lavigne is in possession of a clear, strong instrument well suited to the type of music he sings.
According to Lavigne he has been classically trained although where and for how long or, for that matter, any other biographical information is curiously absent from his website.
The bill for his NYC debut was roughly $200,000, 80% of which came from donations and proceeds of fundraising concerts on the Island. Remarkably, considering that he was a virtual unknown in the City, he managed to attract about 1200 people to the 2804-seat Stern Auditorium.
All press to date has been gushing, so Miss Mussel is going take one for the team here and present a rather contrary reading of the event. Up until 30 minutes ago, Miss Mussel had never heard of Mr Lavigne (not an unusual circumstance, granted) it’s just that the “small town boy risks everything to make it in the big city” narrative is terribly overused and, in this case, doesn’t actually seem to be true.
To this bivalve’s eye, the whole undertaking appears to be an elaborately planned PR stunt meant to launch Levigne’s international career. Which is fine. There is not even an iota of anything wrong with that.
It just doesn’t fit the myth is all.
Neither does the presenter who’s only client appears to be Mr Lavigne or the trip to New York sold by a local travel company designed to give his fans a chance to witness his debut and talk with him after the concert. According to an article in the Victoria Times Colonist, over 80 people made the journey. Unfortunately none of New York critics turned up.
Mr Lavigne is adept at marketing and promoting his music and knows how to play to his audience but after reading all there is to read on this subject, the whole affair seems rather sad. It’s the same feeling you get when the kid that never gets invited to the cool kids’ birthday parties has one of her own at the Chuckie Cheese, invites everyone and none of the cool kids show up.
Just in case you’re planning to rent the hall yourself, here is a list of Mr Lavigne’s expenses:
$17,000 for hall rental
$60,000 for 51 musicians
$41,000 in rehearsal time, labour and security
$85,000 in advertising.
Ballpark earnings estimate: $50000-$80000