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Retired builders’ merchant, 72, is happy to lose thousands as he plans to star in his own show

A classical music enthusiast has spent £26,000 laying on a show in tribute to his hero – the Anglo-Italian conductor Annunzio Paolo Mantovani.

Paul Barrett will star in a 48-piece orchestra he has hired especially for the performance which he is expected to make a loss of thousands of pounds on.

Mr Barrett, 72, said he plans to do ‘everything bar conducting’ in the musical extravaganza being hosted at the Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre in Dorset.

Paul Barrett will star in a 48-piece orchestra he has hired especially for the performance which he is expected to make a loss of thousands of pounds on

The retired businessman has organised the show every two years for the last decade and believes his life-time passion following Mantovani has cost him more than £500,000 down the years.

This Sunday’s performance will be the first to feature ballroom dancers as he bids to keep things fresh.

Despite the upgrade, ticket sales are currently 15 per cent down on Mr Barrett’s projected figures but he said he is not concerned.

Strictly Mantovani concert at Pavilion Bournemouth, with Paul Barrett on percussion. The retired businessman has organised the show every two years for the last decade

Strictly Mantovani concert at Pavilion Bournemouth, with Paul Barrett on percussion. The retired businessman has organised the show every two years for the last decade

Paul in 1961 aged 16 with his Vibraphone. Mr Barrett, from Poole, Dorset, was aged 12 when his father, a professional violinist, took him to his first Mantovani concert

Paul in 1961 aged 16 with his Vibraphone. Mr Barrett, from Poole, Dorset, was aged 12 when his father, a professional violinist, took him to his first Mantovani concert

He said: ‘If I was running this purely as a business I would have gone bust years ago – this is just a passion for me.

‘I love it and this year is going to be better than ever.

‘Looking at the success of Strictly Come Dancing, we’ve gone out and got for the first time two fabulous ballroom dancers to go with the show.

When Mr Barrett sold his family builders merchant business in Sheffield and retired in 1996, he moved to Dorset, where Mantovani had lived before his death

When Mr Barrett sold his family builders merchant business in Sheffield and retired in 1996, he moved to Dorset, where Mantovani had lived before his death

‘It costs me £26,000 to put the performance on but to me it is absolutely worth it.

‘Ticket sales may be slightly down on previous years but as long as I am able, I’ll keep doing this.

‘The problem is that our age demographic are getting older and it is getting difficult for them to make it down.

‘Those that do come are guaranteed a good night and I’m involved in pretty much everything except conducting it.’

Although Mantovani is not widely known today, the bandleader was Britain’s most successful album act before the Beatles and the first act to sell over a million albums.

He played the violin on Vera Lynn’s White Cliffs of Dover and songs such as Charmaine, Greensleeves and Song from the Moulin Rouge sold over one million copies.

He sold 60 million records in the UK and the US and was considered such a heartthrob he received more than 700 marriage proposals in one year.

Mr Barrett, from Poole, Dorset, was aged 12 when his father, a professional violinist, took him to his first Mantovani concert.

Mantovani with his wife Winifred and children Kenneth and Paula. Mantovani sold 60 million records in the UK and the US and received more than 700 marriage proposals in one year

Mantovani with his wife Winifred and children Kenneth and Paula. Mantovani sold 60 million records in the UK and the US and received more than 700 marriage proposals in one year

Mantovani outside his home in Poole. Mr Barrett paid £50,000 for the 35mm film and rights to recordings of a 1950s American TV series Mantovani did

Mantovani outside his home in Poole. Mr Barrett paid £50,000 for the 35mm film and rights to recordings of a 1950s American TV series Mantovani did

Mantovani with wife Winifred outside his home in Poole. The show, called Stricty Mantovani, takes place on Sunday and tickets cost between £23 and £31

Mantovani with wife Winifred outside his home in Poole. The show, called Stricty Mantovani, takes place on Sunday and tickets cost between £23 and £31

Ken Mantovani with one of his fathers gold disc's. Mr Barrett hoped his music teacher might miss a performance so he could step in and play alongside his idol - but he never did

Ken Mantovani with one of his fathers gold disc’s. Mr Barrett hoped his music teacher might miss a performance so he could step in and play alongside his idol – but he never did

He spent his time studying the performer’s career, went to concerts and even signed up for music lessons with Mantovani’s longtime percussionist, Charles Botterill.

Mr Barrett learnt every arrangement and perfected the percussion parts, secretly hoping his mentor Botterill would have to miss a show from illness and Mantovani would call him up as a stand-in.

But Botterill never missed a performance and so he never got the chance to perform with his idol, who died in 1980 aged 74.

When Mr Barrett sold his family builders merchant business in Sheffield and retired in 1996, he moved to Dorset, where Mantovani had lived before his death.

He decided to recreate the orchestra and approached the Mantovani family, who gave him access to the original music scores, free of charge.

He even paid £50,000 for the 35mm film and rights to recordings of a 1950s American TV series Mantovani did.

Mr Barrett plays all the percussion parts, as Botterill did, including drums, cymbals, tambourine, triangle, xylophone, glockenspiel and vibraphone.

Paul Barrett in 1968 playing his mothers piano. He spent his time studying the performer's career, went to concerts and even signed up for music lessons with Mantovani's longtime percussionist, Charles Botterill

Paul Barrett in 1968 playing his mothers piano. He spent his time studying the performer’s career, went to concerts and even signed up for music lessons with Mantovani’s longtime percussionist, Charles Botterill

Paul Barrett on on stage during rehearsals before the show. He plays all the percussion parts, as Botterill did, including drums, cymbals, tambourine, triangle, xylophone, glockenspiel and vibraphone

Paul Barrett on on stage during rehearsals before the show. He plays all the percussion parts, as Botterill did, including drums, cymbals, tambourine, triangle, xylophone, glockenspiel and vibraphone

Mr Barrett decided to recreate the orchestra and approached the Mantovani family, who gave him access to the original music scores, free of charge

Mr Barrett decided to recreate the orchestra and approached the Mantovani family, who gave him access to the original music scores, free of charge

He added: ‘I’m not a comedian but I do like to try and get a few laughs from the audience, which you don’t get at many of these types of show.

‘I wear funny hats and that kind of thing which I think people enjoy.’

The show, called Stricty Mantovani, takes place on Sunday and tickets cost between £23 and £31. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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