- AB at MSG in a
New York Frame of Mind
- November 30,
- We were not
going to go to the concert at Madison Square Garden. We had seen
Andrea more than half a dozen times in the last twelve months. We
had crossed the ocean and the continental U.S. twice. We would be
sensible and mature this time, and stay home. We had so much to do
with the holidays coming. There were important commitments at work.
We would save our leave time for the trip to Catania in April for
Andrea Chénier. Really, hadn’t we heard him enough? This is what
Jack and I had repeatedly told ourselves. But, dopo tutto,
when all was said and done and that unexpected business trip to New
York popped up, there we were at the Madison Square Garden box
office at 4:30, buying one of the remaining available seats on the
floor (Jack settled for nosebleed level) for the 8:00 Bocelli
- As anyone who has
heard this voice, even for an instant, knows, the pull to be in his
presence is strong. What IS it about this man? I had time to mull it
over as we took our seats in the cavernous arena…still fairly
empty at this early point in the evening. I recalled Andrea’s
words from a recent interview:
only thing I can say is that I try with all my forces to find
inspiration from my life, from my love, from my experience of every
day. In one word, from my heart. …And the people understand.”
- We do understand.
His heart touches ours through his voice. And right now in our world,
we can use the balm of that heartfelt beauty. Though we may have
heard some of these songs over and over—or perhaps precisely
because we have heard them over and over—we can’t resist coming
again to hear the smallest nuance of change, the newest shaping of
his craft, the latest mastering of a vocal challenge, the masterful
honing of already familiar notes, or the testing of new waters. And
so we found ourselves at Madison Square Garden with 21,000 others,
including the young couple form Lubbock, Texas who had left at 6:00
that morning just to be here with Andrea. They were relieved to
learn that the concert was starting nearly 20 minutes late and so
they had not missed more than the opening overture after all.
- Andrea has always
made a fearlessly bold statement with his opening arias. During last
summer’s tour, it was the “Improvviso” from Andrea Chénier.
This night it was “Vesti la giubba” from his just-released Pagliacci.
The emphatic “Recitar…” set the tone for the evening—strongly
confident and perfectly at ease, indicating that the maestro was in
his element. He invested the broken-hearted Canio with all the
intense emotional diversity required of the role: the cynical laugh,
the wrenching sob, the despairingly bitter pain, the despondent
outburst focused on the final word “il cor” He nailed it. The
audience surrendered. It took less than four minutes.
- Andrea gave us no
time to catch our breath. We were instantly awash in emotion again
as the baritone Luis Ledesma joined Andrea in the achingly lovely
duet from The Pearlfishers “Au fond du temple saint.” Who
could tire of hearing this? It is an aria to be lost in. The melody
is unfailingly compelling, building to the passionate climax that
puts these two classically trained voices to the test. Andrea passed
with flying colors.
- Ailyn Perez, the
soprano, entertained next with the sparkling “Je veux vivre”
from Romeo and Juliet. Then familiar musical strains announced the
sacred aria “Panis Angelicus” Yes, yes, you think, we have heard
this a million times. But vocally, Andrea has deepened and
strengthened, and more than ever he has mastered in his heart, and
soul, and voice the means to instill the reverence this prayerful
aria merits. To one who does not know this man, the gesture of
folded hands before he begins might seem affected, but to me and to
any who have heard him share thoughts from the heart, it seems that
even in the distracting midst of this secular space, Andrea has the
discipline to silently retreat within himself for just one moment to
make this a true prayer, and then continue. The New York Choral
society amplified the sacred tone. It is really magnificent to hear
the echoing notes of tenor and chorus playing off one another in
intricate beauty. As a new touch, Andrea held the final note in a
mood of veneration for a small eternity.
- “O soave
fanciulla”…a sure winner both for opera newbies and those among
us who long ago followed our Tuscan pied piper into the operatic
realm. He hit and held that final high C so easily. Where are all
the denizens of the opera chatlists who endlessly discuss how hard
it is to find a tenor with confident top notes among the newest crop.
Our tenore throws them out with confident abandon!
- “Di quella pira”…you’d
think after the astonishing abondanza of four consecutive
encores of this taxing aria that Andrea graced us with at each
performance at Avery Fisher Hall, I might not have been all that
anxious to hear it again for a while. But it never fails to amaze.
Andrea makes it seem effortless—the much vaunted high C for him is
all in a night’s work. Having the chorus was an extra treat, and
the combined effect was an operatic gift.
- The Act 1 trio
from Il Trovatore is, again, a terrific taste of opera for
any new fans at the concert who had been enticed by Andrea’s
latest Amore CD but have not yet ventured into his beloved
world of opera. It was an energetic and exciting moment in the
concert that made me dream of how great it would be if Andrea were
to attempt more concert operas. It definitely sent the crowd out for
the intermission all abuzz, judging by the positive comments I heard
in passing —“He’s just amazing,” “…incredible,”
“….sensational.” Just fill in the blank with any given
superlative; I heard them all.
- The conductor
Steven Mercurio’s own inventive and lushly beautiful composition Mercurial
Overture opened the second half of the concert. Mercurial,
“having qualities of eloquence, ingenuity, or thievishness
attributed to the god Mercury … characterized by rapid and
unpredictable changeableness of mood.” Watching the tireless
acrobatics of Steven throughout the concert on that podium (it’s a
wonder he remains on it), I would say these qualities from the
dictionary definition capture his personality. Even “thievishness,”
you ask? Well, he steals our hearts with the devoted attention and
obvious friendship he bestows on Andrea—professional comrades who
together forge a memorable performance. I have said it before and
repeat, it always seems to me that Steven is thrusting the notes
INTO the orchestra, not coaxing them out of it. And maybe they got
the gods mixed up. Maestro Mercurio is more like a young Thor
thrusting his thunderbolts of powerful musical direction at the
musicians left and right, and doing it in all directions nearly
simultaneously because he is such an athletic conductor. This was
most apparent in the William Tell overture. I love how the
dawn of recognition suddenly hits the audience when the piece
reaches the familiar passage of cartoon and Lone Ranger legend. This
time they even granted themselves a congratulatory round of applause
for their recognition. It was also nice to be challenged by the less
familiar overture from Luisa Miller that opened this concert.
There is little that Verdi wrote that fails to thrill.
- This audience,
like most others I have been part of, quickly fell in love with
Steven’s comic and tender touches that I am sure both relax and
reassure Andrea. The clasped hands between arias, the solicitous
straightening of the white tie to make that tenor presentable, the
hand gesture—extraneous though it is—to milk the applause for
all it’s worth or to comment that the last song was really HOT,
the generous and unfailing sharing of spotlighted moments with key
members of the orchestra, the unmistakable investment and surrender
of his whole body and soul into the music…they are clearly kindred
spirits, tenor and conductor. Their partnership is a joy to watch.
- Never was it more
evident than in the little repartee between the two that introduced
the pop half of the concert. Steven commented that for him New York
was home, but he asked Andrea what it was like for him to perform at
the world-renowned Madison Square Garden in the equally famous city.
The self-described “lazy” Andrea made the initial request that
he be allowed to talk about it in Italian, with Steven doing the
translation. Nice try, but Steven wasn’t buying it, and he made
the tenor work at his English skills. It went well, to a point.
Andrea began easily enough by stating that when he first came to New
York it was overwhelming. It was noisy, and crowded, and there was
so much traffic, and …here he trailed into Italian, with Steven
translating that “he lost himself in the city.” But then, Andrea
noted (now entrenched in the safety of his Italian) that there is no
city on earth that has given him a warmer welcome, thinking of when
he first performed at Madison Square Garden. This statement elicited
a thunderous affirmation from the audience that it was true this
time as well. This newfound ease of Andrea’s in communicating with
his audience is so endearing and welcome.
Andrea took to this song like a duck to water. It swept us off our
feet at the Hollywood Bowl when he debuted it last summer. It is
evident from this performance that he is still refining and
sculpting each note of it. “Granada” is its own little musical
universe for Andrea. You can see him responding with a smile to the
sheer force of the grandeur and drama of this music, keeping time
with his hand to the prominent beat. He has firm command of the
song’s vocal power when the orchestra is in full sway, and he
holds the final note for all it’s worth, stunning the audience
with its emotional force. Credit is due to Maestro Mercurio for the
compelling arrangement of this song; indeed, this and the next four
songs of the program were all his arrangements. Yet another aspect
of Steven’s talent.
- “Vieni sul mar”
and “Funiculi, Funicula” again illustrated how beautifully the
chorus worked with Andrea to round out the romantic sound of these
songs, underscoring the old-fashioned romance of the first and the
lively energy of the second. Andrea seemed to enjoy both the choral
company and the relaxed pace of the songs, and his voice is so
winning in this mode—full, and warm, and velvet-toned! The only
change in the program came at this point, the reversal of the order
of “Non ti scordar di me” and “Funiculi, Funicula” The
dreamy, lilting loveliness of “Non ti scordar di me” lives up to
it name, for the word nontiscordardime is the Italian name
for the darling little flowers of deep indigo that we call in
English “forget-me-nots”! Indeed, Andrea provided an
unforgettable bouquet of notes, sweetly enchanting but deceptive in
their beauty. Hidden in their midst is a challenging high note that
he delivered impressively…again.
- After the
interlude of Tango Sentimental y Apasionado came what is fast
becoming a quintessential Bocelli concert moment…the changing
of the coat. To the fans who have followed the tours of 2006,
this moment is no longer a surprise. But even though I knew it was
coming, it was a little like when you were a toddler and experienced
the jack-in-the-box popping out at you. Every time, that familiar
“surprise” would make you giggle with delight!! It is an equal
enchantment when Andrea comes out in that stunning white jacket and
the inevitable little gasp of admiration filters through the
audience, causing an irresistible answering grin from the tenor.
With comic aplomb and perfect timing, he announces the evident, “I
have changed the jacket.” The slightly impish delight in his voice
at this little proclamation just tickles us. The first time this
took place last summer, it was groundbreaking news. Now it seems so
natural that he stands with the mike in hand, so at ease, and begins
a relaxed conversation about how now he will also change the mood of
the evening, that he is happy with his new CD Amore, and will
sing a few songs from it for us. This announcement alone brought the
house down. Clearly there were many there who had been drawn to the
Garden by this wildly popular CD, and they had been waiting for this
moment. The first notes of “Besame Mucho” brought more
appreciative applause of recognition, as did the opening notes of
“Somos Novios” and the first encore “The Prayer.” These
latter two were sung with the accompaniment of Nita Whitaker.
Finally came the last song on the program, “Because We Believe.”
This is a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of song sung by a man who often
wears his there. The song was dramatically punctuated by the
synchronized lights that had provided a precise and effective
backdrop all evening for each piece. Though it is hard to lure my
attention from Andrea in these concerts, while he was singing I
found myself drawn to the face of an older, white-haired gentleman
seated in the row in front of me. He was transfixed by Andrea, the
emotion of the words and song reflected in the man’s rapt
expression of earnest faith and sheer admiration. We all know how he
- Of course, by now
the audience wanted it all to go on forever, and the standing
ovation was desperately pleading with Andrea not to leave. We had
already been granted “The Prayer.” When Steven led Andrea
off-stage, he gave a secret little hand signal indicating that if we
kept it up, we might coax yet another encore from Andrea. The volume
was already incredible, but when Andrea actually did return, and the
unmistakable notes of “Con te partiro” commenced, it impossibly
increased! When he finished, the tumultuous 21,000 around me—young
and old, men and women, dressed to kill and clad in jeans—were
whistling, applauding, calling, whooping, and shouting their wild
approval at a decibal level that I suspect might only be possible at
Madison Square Garden. I was silently screaming in my mind, “Ti
vogliamo bene, Andrea.” He never would have heard it if I
unleashed it in that sea of ecstatic noise.
- By then, we were
preparing to leave, knowing that “Time to Say Good-bye” normally
meant just that. Andrea gave his signature departing wave from the
front of the stage and again at the side as he walked off. But the
crowd had more faith and was unrelenting in their effort to bring
him out again. To my astonishment, he came. To my greater
astonishment, the notes from the orchestra made it clear he was
going to sing “Nessun Dorma.” Oh dio, how glorious could it get!!!
I don’t know where the energy came from, but Andrea flung that
aria out as if it was the first offering of the evening, ant it was
simply awesome. Repeat of the incredible response from the audience.
They were tireless. The wild applause flowed on and on. But finally,
as if to bring them back to reality and to save them from
collectively clapping their limbs off, the house lights came up.
- What a night
Andrea had given us. I
don't think there will ever be a concert now that doesn't show off
both his musical languages. He is the master of both, and this is
his strength and uniqueness. It brings to mind this quote from an
interview that was prompted by a question about crossover and the
relationship between the realms of opera and pop music:
believe these are two totally separate languages, which must remain
separate in order to keep their purity. The only thing they have in
common is the heart. In order for someone to sing, [it] has to go
through the heart, and that's the only way. Any kind of singing.”
- Never stop
touching our hearts with your singing, Andrea. It would be a world
that was colder and bleaker without you.
- by Cami
Colorado - Pepsi Center
When tickets went
on sale for the US December concert tour, I was still high from the
Avery Fisher concert--and also short of cash. Four days in New
York City had pretty much depleted my Bocelli fund and I did not plan
to attend any more concerts this year. I tried to put it out of my
mind, but in my heart, I felt a bit of sadness. How could I miss
getting together with my Bocelli friends? And how could I miss
hearing that voice? When Carolyn managed to obtain second row
center tickets, and offered an invitation to stay in her Rocky
Mountain home, Denver looked too good to resist. That voice was
beckoning! My daily companion for 6 years now in the form of
CDs--but as everyone knows, there is nothing like hearing Andrea
Bocelli live and in person. I knew I would be going to Denver!
It was a 24-hour
journey to Colorado from northern Michigan and with the new "Pagliacci"
recording in my CD player, my anticipation built as the train chugged
west. I looked forward to three wonderful days with Bocelli and
Denver proved to be
all that I had expected and more. The mountain views were
breathtaking--or was it the altitude that took my breath away?
As I struggled to carry my suitcase up a flight of stairs, I couldn't
help but wonder how the singers would be affected by the lower oxygen
levels and with little time to acclimate.
On Saturday night
our group gathered at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver. Our
second row center seats were close to perfection and so was Andrea!
I am one of those fans who loves to hear Bocelli sing opera. I
have thoroughly enjoyed the “Amore” CD and all of the great promo,
but I was hungry for opera! The first half of the concert was
filled with Andrea singing opera arias. Among the highlights for
me was his opening "Vesti la giubba," even more touching
than on the CD recorded over four years ago. This was followed
by "Au fond du temple saint" with baritone Luis Ledesma, who
was greeted warmly by Andrea as he joined him on stage. This is
a particular favorite of mine--I love the two voices with the
interplay of a lovely flute. I had tears in my eyes listening to
these two men sing of friendship.
Ailyn Perez was
Andrea's duet partner for "O soave fanciulla," an aria I've
heard many times. There was an interesting ending this time. I
remember reading that Puccini's score does not have the tenor singing
the high C with the soprano -- but somewhere along the line it began
to be customary for the tenor do so and that custom took precedence
over the score. I have always heard Andrea sing this note with
the soprano, but on this evening he chose the lower notes, presumably
as Puccini had written them. Although it was a surprise, I
thought it was quite lovely. If we had any doubts about his
ability to hit the high notes, they were quickly dispelled by a
rousing "Di quella pira," one of the most thrilling
renditions I've heard from him.
It is obvious that
Andrea dedicates himself to the operatic repertoire and the sojourn
into pop has not detracted a bit from his classical skills. His
voice was powerful and compelling. When listening to him I tend
to forget everything—I forget that I’m thirsty, forget that the
seat is uncomfortable, forget that there are 15,000 other people in
the arena—the only thing that matters is listening to Andrea Bocelli
sing! Oh, that voice!
Steven Mercurio is
always a wonderful asset. Our little cheering section in row 2
made sure he knew we were there, and he seemed pleased with our
hooting and hollering--and of course Carole's signature "Yo!
The second half of
the concert consisted of lighter fare--"Vieni Sul Mar,"
"Granada," and others, all beautifully sung. At a
certain point Andrea changed into a white jacket, signifying the mood
change as he treated us with some songs from "Amore."
It was obvious that many in the crowd had come just for that and there
were shouts of pleasure as they began to recognize the pop songs.
Andrea gave further evidence of his amazing breath control with a long
held note at the end of "Besame Mucho." I think it
must have set a new record and had all of us squealing in delight!
After a stirring "Mi Manchi," Steven said, "I can't
believe he sings that good, even at this altitude!" Again
the crowd roared!
I was pleased to
see the positive reviews in the newspapers the following day. It
was nice to realize that the writers had been touched, and weren't
afraid to say so. Everyone in our group of ten, consisting
of men and women, teenagers and senior citizens, was moved by Andrea's
performance. Carolyn's grandson, Weston, sent this email
to her the following day:
The seats at the
Bocelli concert last night were incredible. I have never experienced
anything where I was so close to the person on stage at a big event.
It blew me away, almost as Bocelli's voice did. It was very different from
hearing him on the CD in your car. You could hear him sing over the
microphone. I had a wonderful time and am very glad to have
experienced something like this.
experience ended all too soon for me. As my train slowly made
its way back east, I pondered a question that I am often asked
-- "Was it worth it?" I feel fortunate that I
have been able to hear Andrea Bocelli in person many times. How
can you place a value on an experience like this? What is the
value of travel to new and different places? Charming places,
exciting places, places that I probably would not have visited without
the "excuse" of hearing him in person.
And how can a value
be placed on friendship? Friends as precious as the voice that
brought us together! At the Bocelli Birthday Bash this
September, organizer Judy said, "I used to call them my Bocelli
friends--but now they're just my friends!" So true!
What a blessing they have been in my life, both in cyberspace and in
And what is the
value of that voice--and the man who works so hard to perfect it?
A voice that comes along once in a lifetime. A voice that
touches, caresses, excites. A very special voice that beckons
across the miles--come listen! And more than just hearing
Andrea, is the pleasure of watching him. To see the camaraderie
between him and Steven, the affection between him and his duet
partners, to watch him craft a song, the energy in those high notes,
the tenderness in the sweet notes, to see that smile light up the
arena...Yes, it is worth it. It is priceless!
– Arrowhead Pond
- ANDREA BOCELLI
IN CONCERT – HONDA CENTER – ANAHEIM – 12-10-06
- Maureen was unable
to go see Andrea this time, so my daughter in-law, Caroline, went with
me. This was the first time she has been to a Bocelli concert
and I will add that she was truly impressed and whooped and hollered
as loud as everyone else. It was a bit drizzly walking
from the hotel to the Honda Center but our umbrellas kept us dry.
Settled in our seats I looked for anyone I might know, but saw no one.
Em was unable to make it as she was ill.
- The concert began
with the Overture from Luisa Miller. Mr. Mercurio left the stage
and returned with Andrea Bocelli, elegantly dressed in his tux and
white tie. After singing “Vesti la Giubba” from Pagliacci,
he and Luis Ledesma sang “Au Fond Du Temple Saint” from The
Pearlfishers. Although I enjoyed it I’ve been spoiled
hearing Bocelli and Terfel sing it, but Caroline and I did like his
voice. The program continued with Ms. Perez singing “Je
veux vivre” from Romeo and Juliet. Not sung was “
Panis Angelicus”. Mr. Bocelli and Ms. Perez (wearing
a lovely red gown) sang the duet “O Soave Fanciulla” from La
Boheme. Then came the Overture from William Tell, and the lady
next to me said she loved watching Maestro Mercurio. Mr.
Ledesma and the choir (Val Voce Singers) sang “Votre Toast” from
Carmen. Next came “Di Quella Pira from Il Trovatore with
Bocelli and the choir. The three singers closed the first part
with the Act 1 Trio from Il Trovatore, and to a standing ovation and
- Apparently not
everyone was happy with the sound system as someone yelled out early
in the program to do “turn down the sound”, and this was just as
Andrea was about to sing. He and Steven just looked at
each other. From where we sat in section 103 (floor) it sounded
just fine. After intermission, it took several selections before
everyone finally (!) traipsed back to their seats. Personally,
I’m for a no intermission program, like Gigi d’Alessio did earlier
this year. Actually, people were trying to locate their seats up
to and including intermission!!!!! And you wouldn’t believe
the popcorn and other items consumed! Some people didn’t reach
their seats until the end or after the first half either. I
could see several ushers leading people to their seats.
- The second part
began with the Denver Sinfonietta playing the “Mercurial Overture”.
Mr. Bocelli returned to sing “Vieni sul Mar” with the choir.
Next he sang “Granada” and it was glorious. The orchestra
played “Cinema Paradiso”, and then we were treated to a wonderful
“Funiculi, Funicula” with Bocelli and the choir. I was
all a-twitter for the next selection, “Non ti scordar di me” with
the choir and I wasn’t disappointed. Hope he puts this on a CD
soon. The orchestra then played “Tango Sentimental y
Apasionado” with tango dancers dancing on the overhead screens.
- Now, for the big
moment when Bocelli changed to his white jacket. From where we
sat I could see him sitting inside the little enclosure at the side of
the stage and I could see this flash of white, before he returned to
center stage to sing “Besame Mucho”. Andrea
also sang “Mi Manchi” one song I love to listen to.
Next listed on the program was “Somos Novios” to be sung as a duet
with Ms. Whitaker, but it was skipped over. I think it was
here that Andrea rewarded us with “Mi Manchi”. Andrea
then came to the microphone, and with his dazzling smile announced
he had a big surprise for us – and out came David Foster. Mr.
Foster, Steven and Andrea bantered a bit and David went over to the
piano that was out of sight of the audience, and he played along with
the orchestra as Andrea sang “Because We Believe”, the last
selection on the program. The audience showed their pleasure
with bravo’s, clapping, whoops and hollers, and a standing ovation.
Andrea returned to the stage for his encores and our next surprise was
“Can’t Help Falling In Love”. The surprises
weren’t over yet! He announced another guest (I couldn’t
hear him due to the noise) and everyone just went nuts. Out came
Paul Anka!! Caroline was beside herself with this turn of events.
Andrea and Paul sang “My Way” and seemed to have fun doing
it together. Next to be introduced was Heather
Headley (at least I thought it was her) and she and Bocelli sang
“The Prayer”, and beautifully, I might add. It could
have been Ms Whitaker as she was shown on the program as singing
“Somos Novios” with and it wasn’t sung at all, so I figured she
wasn’t there and Ms. Headley filled in. Whatever, she was
wearing a gorgeous gown for the occasion. After each encore they
all left the stage to thunderous applause and ovations. Then
Andrea returned to the stage for the last time with Ms. Perez to sing
“Con Te Partiro” or “Time To Say Goodbye”. They ended
the song to yet another standing ovation and applause and left the
stage that we thought was “the end”, but that was not to be, and
Andrea returned to center stage with his dazzling smile one final
time. The orchestra was ready, and we were treated to a
wonderful rendition of “Nessun Dorma”. The orchestra
and choir, Steven Mercurio, Mr. Bocelli, Ms. Perez, Ms. Headley/Ms.
Whitaker, took their final bows and our Christmas treat had ended:
It had begun shortly after 8:00pm and ended around 10:45 pm.
- The only problems I
had were the 24 standing lights throughout the orchestra that possible
should have had some kind of cover to keep the light downwards onto
the orchestra and out of our eyes, and the “smoky” background.
At times it was like watching through fog. It was almost
impossible to see the choir in the background. As always, Mr.
Bocelli was fantastic and it’s a joy to watch Mr. Mercurio conduct.
I hope I have remembered everything correctly, but it’s difficult to
remember perfectly. I might add that at dinner before the
concert there was an uncovered candle on the table and the handle on
my purse fell into it and caught fire. The restaurant was most
kind though and gave me a VIP discount and a little thanks for not
burning down their establishment.
- It was almost
intermission before the audience finally warmed up before standing
ovations were given, but by the end of the concert everyone was on
their feet (well, almost everyone) clapping, yelling Bravo’s,
that brought a big grin from Andrea. After each bow to the
audience he stopped at the left side of the stage and bowed once more.
I wondered if there was someone special there. He didn’t go to
the right side of the stage. It took a long time before I could
settle down to sleep – and all I could think about was this
wonderful music. Caroline was amazed at Andrea’s breath
control and the fact that here she was, seeing this wonderful singer
in person. I think we’ve all felt that way.
This concert was a fantastic way to end his tour and I’m sure he,
his guest singers, the orchestra, choir and Mr. Mercurio went home
very happy, knowing they did well.
- by Dorris