Dec
19
2011

Interview with Victor Micallef

One fourth of the Canadian Tenors

Home base

Toronto, ON

Professional role

Currently on a holiday tour in the States before heading overseas in the new year. The Tenors are also recording a new album in LA between shows.

Business cred

Started his career at the age of four by taking piano lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He later studied vocal performance at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto. After singing opera in Florence, Italy, Micallef returned to Toronto in 2004 to join the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, and then the Canadian Tenors in 2006. The Tenors’ self-titled debut and Christmas albums have sold more than 160,000 copies in Canada alone.

Days spent on the road

It all depends on the year. Because last year was a big performance year, we were gone more than 300 days. It was incredibly busy and exhausting. We’re trying to find more balance in our lives now. This year is a little different because we’re recording. It’s a week or two away then we go home.

Free time between travelling and performing

I’m a hat man, so I like shopping for a unique hat. One of my favourites came from a place in Vancouver called Goorin Bros. They have really unique hats. In New York recently, I was looking for one in SoHo and East Village. Usually, the artsy area of a city will have a hat store. Maybe it’s something to do with musicians liking them.

Favourite travel destination

I love trips down to the Caribbean because they are truly relaxing. When I get a week off, it’s usually spent catching up with things around the house or seeing my large Maltese family. When we actually go somewhere where there are no Tenors around and it’s just the three of us [wife, Kathleen, and three-year-old son, Zachariah], those are the places that are truly relaxing. Mexico and Punta Cana were great. There are some beautiful spots in Canada. I love BC, Banff and Lake Louise.

Favourite place to perform

The winery gigs like Jackson-Triggs in the Niagara region of Ontario. It was very intimate; it was outdoors, moonlit, surrounded by vineyards. Another place that was unbelievably gorgeous was Napa Valley. You’re looking out into the countryside and you’re equally entertained as you’re entertaining. When people go to wineries, they’re super-relaxed. Maybe it’s the wine.

Favourite restaurant

The best place in the world to eat is Italy. Their produce is so fresh; their tomatoes taste different than our best tomatoes. There’s a place called Settignano, near Florence; I had a spectacular meal there where the chef paired wine with every course. There was a spectacular view that night, because there [happened to be] fireworks over Florence. It was one of the most magical nights of my life, as far as a culinary experience goes. It was a tiny, tiny hole in the wall. There was even a beef dish mixed with chocolate. It was unreal. I’d never tried anything like that before.

Spending Christmas season on the road

Usually, our last show is December 22. It gives us all enough time to head back and celebrate Christmas with our families, which is really important to us. Everyone is really anxious to get home because we’ve been on the road so much together. At the last show we’ll have a toast, gift-giving and some fun. Having such a busy schedule, we don’t drink very often because our bodies can’t handle it on the road, so we have a nice party at the end of the tour, then head home.

Business advice

Don’t feel too proud to say you need external help. We always look for advice from people who have already made it. We’ll ask Gene Simmons what he thinks about certain business moves because he’s a marketing genius. If you know someone who’s been there and who’s successful, ask them what they think. We [the Canadian Tenors] do a lot of team building, and often see coaches and work on our relationship as a unit. If our relationship is strong, then that shows on stage because we’re having a great time and they [the audience] understand we’re like brothers.

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