When he walked on stage, Michael Ciufo appeared too lithe, too young and too contemporary to be billed as a tenor. I wondered idly if there had been a clerical error. Granted, he was accompanied by a violinist and pianist. Their style too classical to refer to them as a fiddler and piano player. I waited skeptically for the first few notes to be sung.
With perfect control and delicious diction emerged a rich, melancholy sound that stunned the room. His bottom register delivered with power soared upward, restrained by emotion. Michael Ciufo sings with his heart, freed by a command of vocal technique. His voice truly is his instrument.
Some tenors I have heard, center themselves in the core, everything south of the diaphragm stiff, unmoving. Mr. Ciufo rooted himself to the stage, using his entire body to communicate yearning and heartbreak.
The songs he sang ranged from the cliché – O Sole Mio – to Broadway, with a few bars of Black-eyed Peas, just to make us smile. He told stories: The first time he discovered Jacques Brel, foolishly following an old flame to Europe. An old soul in a young man’s body. We were captivated!
Mr. Ciufo performed as part of Suite Thursday, a cabaret series presented by Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, a showcase for up and coming talent. Mr. Ciufo is on the cusp of greatness!