When in comes to musical styles that go together, Rock & Roll and Opera probably aren’t the first two genres that come to mind. They weren’t either for Brian Noonan, the creator/founder of The Jersey Tenors, who are now performing in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret. But once Brian mashed up the two genres, he realized what a delicious musical delicacy they really are.
We sat down with Brian to discuss how he discovered that Rock and Opera mix surprisingly well, how The Jersey Tenors have changed since the group was first founded, and what he thinks about before the lights come up on stage each night.
As a group, The Jersey Tenors first started performing in 2014. How has the group and the show itself transformed over the past eight years?
The first Jersey Tenors show was originally conceived as a “Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons” type of show. But after so many requests to return to venues in New Jersey where we’d already performed, we decided to expand our repertoire to include the iconic artists from The Garden State. Then, as the show’s popularity grew to a larger, more diverse audience, we decided to embrace even more styles of music to meet the needs and interests of our audiences. In The Jersey Tenors – Part II, for example, we perform pop, R&B, love songs, and disco.
We’ve had the chance to perform our show over 1,000 times, so we have been able to really hone in on what works and what doesn’t. This helps us make each engagement even better than before.
It’s also very important to customize our show for each venue and their patrons. We’ve found that these personal touches really resonate with audiences. Each performance is pretty intense and vocally demanding, so we’re always looking for ways to make it enjoyable and interesting for ourselves and the audience.
The Jersey Tenors have headlined at Yankee Stadium, The Pentagon, Dubai’s Atlantic Hotel & Resort, and Singapore’s Formula 1 Grand Prix. Out of these experiences, which one was your favorite and why?
We’ve been so fortunate to perform in so many places—all seven continents to be exact. Performing in Singapore was unreal! Watching a whole city shut down and transform into a racetrack was just incredible, not to mention loud. The most surprising experience was probably going to Antarctica.
The Jersey Tenors are known for their unique sound of mashing Rock & Roll hits with opera staples. How did you discover this sound? How do you divvy up the songs between the cast members?
Over the years, we’ve been adding more songs to our shows—from Broadway to opera—and we found that audiences really appreciated the diverse styles. Adding in the opera element really elevated their response because we had shown our audiences we could do just about anything!
As for assigning songs, we never ask performers to do, sing, or perform anything outside of their own vocal style. Even though we sing Rock & Roll as well as opera, we will never ask one of our Rock & Roll tenors to sing like Pavarotti (a famous opera singer).
When The Jersey Tenors take the stage, what is their main focus?
When we perform, our biggest focus is on having the best time with each other and our audience. As long as they are willing to have a conversation or dialogue with us during the performance, then we’ve accomplished our mission.
Due to audience demand, The Jersey Tenors – Part II was extended and played through September 18, 2022 in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret.