Sweet thunder from Down Under

Published Mar 24, 2009


Dominic "Panda" Smith is one of The Ten Tenors, the world-famous Australian singing sensations soon to arrive in South Africa for the second time.

I caught their first show here and was blown clear across the room by their skill and talent.

They rearrange opera classics, schmaltzy golden oldies and contemporary pop songs and liven them up with gentle banter and humour. Really top-drawer stuff.

They are touring Germany at present and a telephonic interview is the best I can score with these in-demand fellas.

A determinedly German woman answers the phone at the City Club Hotel, Oldenburg, where they are staying. I speak loudly and clearly (in that annoying way of foreigners), asking to be put through to Dominic. A tired but cheerful voice answers the slightly scratchy line.

Zane Henry: Hello?

Dominic Smith: Hello?

ZH: Hello?

DS: Hello?

ZH: Hello. This is Zane Henry of Tonight in South Africa. Is that Dominic?

DS: Yeah mate. How's it going?

ZH: Pretty good, thanks. On a scale of 1 to 10, how are you doing?

DS: We're always about a 9.5. We are having a fantastic time in Germany.

ZH: Glad to hear. I have to ask, what's with the nickname "Panda"?

DS: (Laughs). It's been going on for so long that I have forgotten the reason why. I think it's because I'm big and cuddly. I don't mind. There are worse things to be called.

ZH: Have you been with the group since its formation in 1995?

DS: No. I joined in 1997 as a joke. I used to work in a bank. Believe me, I love my job a lot more now.

ZH: You guys are on tour for 10 months of the year. What do you miss most about Australia when you're abroad?

DS: Aw, I miss the little things most. I miss the Australian culture. I miss sport on weekends, eating meat pies, drinking Ozzie beer …

ZH: What are some of you favourite international destinations?

DS: I love Singapore, Germany, Madrid in Spain, New Zealand and South Africa. Last time we visited, we didn't have much time for exploring, but we have a few days free this time. We're keen on getting a taste of the local culture.

ZH: How are your plans for world domination coming along?

DS: (Laughs). World domination through singing? I suppose Australians would do anything for world domination … We are trying our hardest. We love what we do and we're not going to give up.

ZH: What can local audiences expect from your new show?

DS: Entertainment. Entertainment. Entertainment. It's kind of a Best Of of our recent stuff, with something to appeal to everyone.

We expect everyone leaving our show to have huge smiles on their faces. If they don't, they're either deaf of dead.

ZH: Which one of you looks best in his suit?

DS: Not me. We're all good-looking guys, so it's probably a tie.

ZH: How do you choose the setlists?

DS: It's a pretty democratic process. We all sit down and write suggestions on a board. We take a lot of requests from fans after the shows, too. We try to keep things as diverse as possible.

ZH: What are you doing immediately after you hang up this call?

DS: Good question. Hmm … Probably taking a shower.

ZH: Enjoy. I just have one final question. It's a little known fact that there were initially 10 dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Which one of The Ten Tenors is most like which dwarf?

Dominic: (Laughs) You can't be serious! Really? Okay. Grumpy: Luke; Happy: Stewart; Sleepy: Ben;

Sneezy: George; Bashful: Todd; Doc: Me; Dopey: Graham.

ZH: And the three others?

DS: Weepy: Boyd; Sleazy: Steve; leaving only … Farty: Jeff.

- The Ten Tenors perform at Grand Arena, Grandwest Casino, Cape Town on Saturday and at the Big Top Arena, Johannesburg, on April 3. Book at Computicket.

Related Topics: