When Matthew Lord first left Napa in 1979, he never imagined he would return to grace the largest stage in his hometown as a seasoned veteran opera singer, while sporting a fake mullet and a half-buttoned pair of denim overalls.
Yet on Feb. 3, nearly 40 years after Lord’s initial departure from the valley, he and his co-stars, Blake Davidson and Jonathan Frugé, will be doing exactly that as they bring their nationally-touring brainchild “The 3 Redneck Tenors” to the Uptown Theatre.
“The 3 Redneck Tenors” is a musical comedy show written and created by Lord with music arranged by producer Craig Bohlmer. The show features a full narrative plot, backing band, and, of course, lots of redneck laughs.
The music ranges from gospel, to country, to Broadway, to pop and classical. “The story of The 3 Redneck Tenors is just about three guys living in a trailer park,” Lord said. “All three guys have singing mothers, and all three of them have the same father. They get discovered singing in their trailer park and take their show on the road.”
A graduate of Napa High School’s Class of 1979, Matthew Lord left Napa for CSU Hayward where he studied voice. He then auditioned for and got into The Juilliard School in New York City, where he joined their opera program.
After Juilliard, Lord traveled to Hamburg where he spent a year performing in a German production of the musical “Phantom of the Opera.” He spent more than 25 years performing opera in all the major houses, including the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Symphony.
The idea for “The 3 Redneck Tenors” was spawned 12 years ago in Grapevine, Texas, near Dallas when Lord was asked by the Palace Theater to put on a benefit show.
“I had this idea for a show,” he said. “At the time we had the big tenor thing going on. Everyone was going nuts for Pavarotti, Domingo, and the little guy,” Lord said, jokingly referring to José Carreras, the shortest of the famous opera singers, the Three Tenors. “I just thought it was all boring. You had three guys yelling at you all with the same voice type. So I had this idea for a comedy show featuring three tenors, but one dies and gets replaced by a baritone.”
“The 3 Redneck Tenors” was quickly picked up by an agent and gained the attention of executives at “America’s Got Talent” in 2006. “They called me twice asking if we wanted to be on their show, and I told them ‘no’ both times,” Lord said. “Finally, my producer begged me to go on the show, and we made it to the top 10 finalists, or the top 10 losers as I like to call them,” Lord added, laughing.
The Tenors have been touring since 2006. Today they are on a 129-city tour that, for the first time ever, includes Napa. Their upcoming show at the Uptown Theater will be Lord’s first return to Napa in 39 years.
“It’s selling like crazy because of all these people I went to high school with,” Lord said. “I’m very honored by that.”
When asked what impression he hopes to leave in Napa after his homecoming, Lord said, “At the end of the day, we hope you had a good laugh, enjoyed the music, and didn’t learn a thing. Then it’ll be just like Napa High School in 1979.”
Tickets are $30-$50, and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets and more information are available at www.uptowntheatrenapa.com. The Uptown Theatre is at 1350 Third St., in Napa.