On October 31 the Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts 2017 cruise ship sets sail for the shores of Noumea and Isle of Pines. Performing on the seven night cruise is three tenor José Carreras, Marina Prior, Silvie Paladino and many more. I spoke with tenor, composer and performer, David Hobson about what people can expect from this exciting cruise.
On October 31st you set sail on Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts 2017 cruise ship. What can you tell me about it?
It’s on this huge ship called the Radiance of the Seas – I think it’s the third time it’s been done – and it’s literally like a festival of music on the sea. It’s pretty amazing! If you’d asked me to do it 10 years ago, I would have said you were crazy, because it sounds like a really daggy event, but you’ve got this 1000-seat theatre with a full orchestra on board, where each night there’s either a fantastic opera or music theatre concert. I was gob smacked when we did it because my impression of cruising was like The Love Boat, back in the 70s, but it’s not like that at all!
It’s extraordinary getting all these amazing artists together who do their own show and then work together with each other around the ship. You’ve got José Carreras this year, all these Opera Australia people and the Tawadros brothers, who are fantastic instrumentalists.
What is the thing you enjoy most about performing on a cruise like Bravo!?
For me personally, the best thing is being with fantastic, fellow artists who you get to spend time with. You might fly-in and fly-out to do a concert every now with some of these people, but [on the cruise you] get to spend a few days together and have fun. It’s like a working party. We come up with great, little, wacky, artistic ideas and do duets and trios. For the passengers it’s pretty special as well because they don’t know where we’re going to end up doing something off-the-cuff matter.
The extraordinary thing is for the passengers, is they’re doing this lovely Pacific cruise and during the day, there’s string quartets playing or there might be a band playing somewhere else or someone singing solo all around the ship. There’s entertainment happening all the time! In the evening there’s a fantastic show in this brilliant theatre as well. [It’s an] absolutely brilliant concept! We have a ball.
You have such an extensive career in musical theatre, recording and television. What kind of music will you be singing on the cruise?
I do a mixture. I’m going to a combination a little bit of opera, a little bit of music theatre and maybe a little bit of Celtic. Silvie Paladino and I are going to do a show together – a combination of duets, solos and what have you. We’ll do a bit of music theatre, because although Silvie does have an operatic bent as well in her voice, she’s Italian for God’s sake! Then Marina Prior and I are gonna do a few things together as well. And who knows, I might do other stuff with other people.
Television journalist Ray Martin is also a featured guest. He isn’t known for his singing voice, so what will he be bringing to the cruise?
We’ll have a conversation in the theatre where Ray will have either one-on-one or a group of four-or-five of us on stage and have an interview with him. He’ll talk over the week. Last year we had Richard Fidler who does Conversations on ABC; Ray is the guy this year doing that! Ray is almost like M.C. or moderator in conversation – which is an added bonus for the passengers. And then we have Jonathon Welch, who does Choir of Hard Knocks, so passengers form a choir and they perform on one of the evenings as well.
You got your start in musical theatre. Your first being Oliver! playing the Artful Dodger, alongside your father as Fagin. Is there different preparation before going on stage when you’re playing a character singing a song compared to on somewhere like the cruise where you may just be singing that same song from that musicals but as yourself?
Doing your own show, it’s like you get rid of, you know, there’s makeup, there’s a character, there’s no sets, there’s no costume so you literally got to show yourself or reveal yourself, which is a little bit more dangerous. I think a little bit more vulnerable. So yes, preparation, it’s a little different because when you’re doing a character, there’s all the background, learning the lines, work with other people in terms of relationships on stage. It’s completely different and both require a different set of skills.
Being yourself is harder sometimes but can be more rewarding with the audience because they get to see a side of the artist they don’t normally see. When it’s just you, because I do a lot of solo concerts, you’re up there on your own. I really enjoy that but that sense of vulnerability can be kind of draining. As a punter I really like it when I see an artist in that situation so that aspect I really like. I enjoy doing that a lot. I like doing shows. For instance, Marina and I doing our shows, even though there is still two of us, it’s still us being us. You get to do your own music and you get to choose what you want to do as opposed to what another producer or a composer wants. But on the other hand, I like doing characters as well.
Do you have a favourite modern day musical?
That’s really hard. I mean My Fair Lady is pretty good. I do like the old Rodgers and Hammerstein type-shows because of the classical nature of the singing. Sweeney Todd is amazing. I love Oliver!
What do you listen to in your car?
Probably a bit more ABC FM if anything, a bit of talk radio, radio national. Or I’ll have my own music artists I like, it could be Coldplay, it could be the Beatles. I sound like an old guy now (laughs).
I mentioned before what an extensive career you have had. Do you have a personal highlight?
I don’t think I have a standout highlight, no. Nothing is springing to mind at the moment because I’ve been lucky enough to keep doing lovely things all along the way. I know it’s a question that I should have an answer for because I’ve been asked before. I love football so maybe singing at the AFL Grand Final. Maybe combining footy and music together is a highlight (laughs).
Are you working on anything else coming up?
Marina and I are doing a tour and I’m doing something for Opera Queensland, like little bits and bobs as they say and doing a new CD too. I’m just working on it and just started throwing myself into the idea of formulating it now. I haven’t done a CD for about a year.